[Lingtyp] Query: syllable-reversing ludlings

David Gil gil at shh.mpg.de
Sun May 17 16:03:04 UTC 2020

Dear all,

Ludlings (aka play languages or secret languages) are often constructed 
by reversing the order of syllables in a word.Using numerals to denote 
syllables, 12 > 21.But what happens when there are three (or more) 
syllables in the word?For tri-syllabic words, the two most common 
outcomes are

(a) 123 > 312

(b) 123 > 231

The Riau Indonesian ludling I have written about has the (a) pattern, 
eg. /bahasa > sabaha/. But a friend of mine in Papua has recently 
started writing to me in a ludling using the (b) pattern, e.g. /bahasa > 
hasaba/.Which got me curious.According to Wikipedia, the French ludling 
/verlan/ may use either option, e.g. /cigarette/ > /restiga/ or /garetsi/.

I would appreciate any information you might be able to provide with 
regard to syllable-reversing ludlings of this kind that you might be 
familiar with in other languages.Specifically, I would like to know:

(1) which pattern is followed in tri-syllabic words: (a), (b), or 
perhaps other?

(2) what is the location of word-stress in the language?

The motivation behind the second question is that I have a hunch that 
the difference between the ludlings in closely related Riau Indonesian 
and Papuan Malay might be due to their different stress patterns — a 
hypothesis that is easily tested by looking at a handful of other languages.



David Gil
Senior Scientist (Associate)
Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Kahlaische Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
Email: gil at shh.mpg.de
Mobile Phone (Israel): +972-556825895
Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-81344082091

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