Many of you have told me that you’re learning English with your children. What a great experience! Some of you have also told me that you teach English to kids in your communities. In today’s culture post, I’m going to teach you something you can use with the young English speakers in your life…or with anyone else! It’s a popular children’s word game that most non-native speakers never learn, and it’s called Pig Latin. Keep reading to learn what Pig Latin is and how to speak Pig Latin like a pro! Or should I say… eak-spay ig-Pay atin-Lay ike-lay a-yay o-pray! 🐷

 

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What is Pig Latin?

 

Pig Latin is a code that children use to make it difficult for people to understand what they’re saying, especially any eavesdropping teachers or parents! Adults use it, too, but normally just to be playful.

 

Pig Latin is common within the United States, although from what I understand, it’s not widely used in other English-speaking countries.

 

Imagine how fun it would be to speak this with your children! If you’re not living in the States, no one will understand you, so it could be your secret language! And let’s face it, if you get used to speaking in Pig Latin, going back to normal English is going to be a piece of cake!

Does your native language have something similar to Pig Latin? My husband has told me about vesre in Uruguay and Argentina, and I’m familiar with Cockney rhyming slang in London. If you know of more examples, please share them with us in the comments!

 

How to Speak Pig Latin: Pig Latin Rules + Examples

 

The rules of Pig Latin are fairly simple, and the first thing you need to know is that Pig Latin has nothing to do with Latin. That’s a relief, isn’t it? I give you lots of examples in this section, but if you want the short and sweet version, scroll down for an infographic of the Pig Latin rules.

 

Related: Do you like learning English with infographics? Check out this fun infographic of 18 words to describe your enemies!

 

Pig Latin Rule 1: When the Word Begins with a Consonant

 

When the English word begins with a consonant, you translate it to Pig Latin by (1) removing all of the letters up until the first vowel, (2) placing them at the end of the word, and (3) adding the sound ‘-ay’.

 

Here are a bunch of examples!

 

brother   ➡️   other-bray
cat   ➡️   at-cay
daddy   ➡️   addy-day
flutter   ➡️   utter-flay
ground   ➡️    ound-gray
hello   ➡️   ello-hay
Jennifer   ➡️   ennifer-Jay
kiss   ➡️   iss-kay
lavender   ➡️   avender-lay
mother   ➡️   other-may
night   ➡️   ight-nay
practice   ➡️   actice-pray
queen   ➡️   een-quay
round   ➡️   ound-ray
stupid   ➡️   upid-stay
ten   ➡️   en-tay
vicious   ➡️   icious-vay
weather   ➡️   eather-way
xenophobia   ➡️   enophobia-xay
yellow   ➡️   ellow-yay
zoo   ➡️   oo-zay

 

Sometimes, a consonant might have a soft sound in front of some vowels, but a hard sound in front of ‘-ay’. Pig Latin is based on sounds, not writing, so keep the original sound of the letter. Don’t change it to go with ‘-ay’.

 

Examples:

 

cell   ➡️   ell-cay (pronounced ell-say)
Cinderella   ➡️   inderella-Cay (pronounced inderella-Say)
cyst   ➡️   yst-cay (pronounced yst-say)
gel   ➡️   el-gay (pronounced el-jay)
gist   ➡️   ist-gay (pronounced ist-jay)
gyrate   ➡️   yrate-gay (pronounced yrate-jay)
sugar   ➡️   ugar-say (pronounced ugar-shay)

 

Want some practice? Here are a few words and phrases in English. Try to convert each word or phrase into Pig Latin by yourself, then click on the box to see if you got it right!

 

vacation

acation-vay

books

ooks-bay

You speak really well!

ou-Yay eak-spay eally-ray ell-way!

love

ove-lay

Do you want to play cards?

o-Day ou-yay ant-way o-tay ay-play ards-cay?

cheddar cheese

eddar-chay eese-chay

bulldog

ulldog-bay

Sancho Panza wants your steak.

ancho-Say anza-Pay ants-way our-yay eak-stay.

 

Related: Learn how to pronounce sch- words in English! (video post)

 

Pig Latin Rule 2: When the Word Begins with a Vowel + One-Letter Words

 

When the English word begins with a vowel, you (1) pronounce the word normally and then (2) add ‘-ay’ to the end.

 

In other versions of Pig Latin, you add ‘-way’ or ‘-yay’ to the end, and those are also acceptable. The important thing is to choose the version you are going to use, and be consistent. I personally grew up speaking the ‘-yay’ variation, so that’s what I use.

 

Ready for some examples?

 

abs   ➡️   abs-ay, abs-way, or abs-yay
air   ➡️   air-ay, air-way, air-yay
airways   ➡️   airways-ay, airways-way, or airways-yay
apple   ➡️   apple-ay, apple-way, or apple-yay
aunt   ➡️   aunt-ay, aunt-way, or aunt-yay
awesome   ➡️   awesome-ay, awesome-way, or awesome-yay
ear   ➡️   ear-ay, ear-way, or ear-yay
Eek!   ➡️   Eek-ay!, Eek-way!, or Eek-yay!
egg   ➡️   egg-ay, egg-way, or egg-yay
eons   ➡️   eons-ay, eons-way, or eons-yay
escalator   ➡️   escalator-ay, escalator-way, or escalator-yay
Europe   ➡️   Europe-ay, Europe-way, or Europe-yay
ice   ➡️   ice-ay, ice-way, or ice-yay
illness   ➡️   illness-ay, illness-way, illness-yay
is   ➡️   is-ay, is-way, or is-yay
oats   ➡️   oats-ay, oats-way, or oats-yay
odor   ➡️   odor-ay, odor-way, or odor-yay
Oink!   ➡️   Oink-ay!, Oink-way!, or Oink-yay!
over   ➡️   over-ay, over-way, or over-yay
udder   ➡️   udder-ay, udder-way, or udder-yay
unity   ➡️   unity-ay, unity-way, or unity-yay
up   ➡️   up-ay, up-way, or up-yay

 

So what about one-letter words? Simple! Follow the same rule as with other words beginning with vowels!

 

a   ➡️   a-ay, a-way, or a-yay
I   ➡️   I-ay, I-way, or I-yay

 

It’s Pig Latin practice time again! Trying converting these English words and phrases into Pig Latin out loud, then check yourself by clicking on the box. I’m going to use the ‘-yay’ variation because that’s the style I’m used to, but feel free to use any of the three variations here!

 

earlobe

earlobe-yay

away

away-yay

I love you.

I-yay ove-lay ou-yay.

octopus

octopus-yay

An elephant never forgets.

An-yay elephant-yay ever-nay orgets-fay.

India

India-yay

umbrella

umbrella-yay

Ethel never ever told me that.

Ethel-yay ever-nay ever-yay old-tay e-may at-thay.

 

Related: Quiz yourself on vocabulary words for 10 terrifying creatures in English!

 

Pig Latin Rule 3: When the Word Is Hyphenated

 

What about when the word is hyphenated? When the English word is hyphenated, Pig Latin treats each element as a separate word.

 

Here are some examples!

 

about-face   ➡️   about-yay-ace-fay
full-time   ➡️   ull-fay-ime-tay
non-stop   ➡️   on-nay-op-stay
sugar-free   ➡️   ugar-say-ee-fray (pronounced ugar-shay-ee-fray)
upsy-daisy   ➡️   upsy-yay-aisy-day

 

high-class

igh-hay-ass-clay

top-notch

op-tay-otch-nay

make-up

ake-may-up-yay

all-inclusive

all-yay-inclusive-yay

 

how-to-speak-pig-latin-rules-pig-latin-infographic-Next-Step-English

 

Related: Check out this infographic showing you why English spelling and pronunciation is so crazy!

 

Pig Latin Phrases

 

Now that you know how Pig Latin works, it’s time to start using it! Here is a mini Pig Latin “phrase book” to get you started. An audio clip for each phrase follows the visual!

 

pig-latin-examples-pig-latin-phrases-Next-Step-English

 

 

 

 

Related: Would you like some inspiring English listening practice? Alberto Alonso narrates his guest post about why learning English is like getting in shape! Listen while you read!

 

Pig Latin in Pop Culture

 

Two Pig Latin words have become so common that they’re now slang words in their own right, ‘ixnay’ and ‘amscray’.

 

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In fact, you may remember ‘ixnay’ from The Lion King!

 

 

 

Pig Latin pops up in TV shows and the movies all the time, but my all-time favorite example of Pig Latin in the movies is from the comedy classic, Robin Hood: Men in Tights! 😁

 

 

Related: Do you want to explore humor in English? Check out these 16 hilarious video clips illustrating the double entendre!

 

urray-Hay or-fay ig-Pay atin-Lay!

 

Whether you use this amongst friends as a “secret language” or teach it to your kids as a fun new word game—or however you choose to use it—I hope you have lots of laughs with Pig Latin! And let me tell you, this is something that native speakers don’t expect you to know. So… igh-Hay ive-fay, epper-Stay! ou’re-Yay oing-day eat-gray!

 

👊😎

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