What is this language game my daughter and her friends speak?

Discuss

134 Responses to “What is this language game my daughter and her friends speak?”

  1. Aaron Geiger says:

    My wife and her friends have a made-up language that is still indecipherable to me; it involves spelling out words, ending each consonant with “op” and speaking out the vowels. “Boing Boing” would sound something like this: “Bop, oh, eye, nop, gop, bop, oh, eye, nop, gop.” But they can speak it *very* fast. I can try to get a sound sample of her speaking it if you want. 

  2. asidorenko says:

    I haven’t heard something like this since primary school. They called it “speaking in jargon”.

    I never understood it, but it did involve adding letters between syllables.

  3. Bryn Mosher says:

    Sounds like it’s related to “Ob”. In Ob, you place an “ob” before every sounded vowel. Example:

    “Hi. How are you doing?”
    “Hobi. Hobow obare yobou doboobing?”

  4. satn says:

    You’re just old, sorry man.

  5. TheCakeBreaker says:

    “uf” or “if” are inserted into words before every vowel sound. Ubbi dubbi is similar, but with “ub” or “dub” before vowel sounds instead.

  6. Laura K. says:

    I’m pretty sure it’s just an “f” in front of every sounded vowel. Same as “arbish,” which is the same concept as what Bryn described. 

  7. gadfly says:

    Main rule appears to be adding a “feh” sound after vowel sounds, maybe the only rule. Easy to isolate “gofeh tofeh schoofell afet Cafempbefell Hafell” at the end.

    EDIT: in which case, efenglifesh might be a better name. good luck googling that one!

  8. egeus says:

    I’ve heard somethinglike this before as a kid in Finland. The girls used it in school to keep the boys from understanding. The way they did it (and I think it is the same here) is you insert an extra syllable after each syllable So(f0) you(fu) e(fe)nd u(fu)p ta(fa)lki(fi)ng li(fy)ke thi(fi)s.

    • thatbob says:

       Some folks are saying that you put the “f” sound before a vowel, but IMO it is much easier to speak this type of language rapidly if you echo the vowel sound back with the “f” in front of the echoed part, exactly as you do here.  I was quite fluent in this, but with “b” instead of “f,” in high school.  It’s essentially what Cosby uses in his “Dentists” routine.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBqY6cJD3CE

      But I like how switching it to “f” makes it sound like the hiss and hush of an audio tech glitch, like wind in the microphone, or a wobbly tape deck head.  I may have to practice this just to mess with some teens at the library!  :P

      • michiexile says:

        This sounds like exactly what’s going on here — duplicating each vowel, with a newly introduced /f/ sound in the middle.

        Thufus ifiit wifill soufound sofomefethifing lifike thifis.

    • D H says:

       Yeah, we have that exact same wordplay in Mexico too!

  9. Swampdog says:

    My little sister used to do what they called “op talk” which has been previously mentioned.  I was way too grown up and sophisticated by then to actually bother learning it myself.   Googling “op talk” comes up with 
    OP-Talk
    This isn’t a real language but, I read it somewhere: “Frog” becomes FOP-ROP-O-GOP. To learn how to speak OP-Talk just spell out the word and after every consanant add the word OP and for a vowel just say the letter.  

    • Lemoutan says:

      Hmm. If the base is a ‘real’ language like English then any derivative constructed from it by algorithmic production (unlike the ‘unreality’ of, say,  Esperanto) must be no less a language, but needn’t be ‘real’.

      Nice.

      • DMStone says:

        Nope. This is a sort of  crypto-constructed language, but not a language per se. A language, by the standard linguistic definition needs a speaker born into it learning it as their first language and a cultural identification that what they speak is their language. 

        Think of the difference of a pidgin and a creole. Or the quote my professor always gave, “A language is a dialect with an Army and Navy.”

  10. Onnena Victoriana Steam says:

    I used to do this with my friends in high school.  We had different forms.  The general rule was to add a syllable before each pronounced vowel or diphthong.  So, in “uffian”, “Mark” would be “Muffark” and “Boing Boing” would be Buffoing Buffoing”.  The more you practice, the better you get, and the better your ear is trained at disregarding the repeated syllable and hearing the content of the message. 

  11. insert says:

    As others have said, seems identical to what I learned as op-language, but for the inserted syllable — “fi” here. Different from how others have described it, in the version I learned, the speaker adds “op” before every vowel.

    E.g.

    Mopy nopam opis opinsopert. (My name is insert).
    Moponopopopolopy (Monopoly)

  12. My parents, born in early 1900′s, spoke a language called “Tutalo”  It is similar to one Aaron described.  “Tut, rar, a, cuck, tut, e, rar” is “Tractor”.  We learned about it but never learned to use it.  One of the tricks that works to give users privacy is the speed they can get. 

  13. Ira Chaplik says:

    For those who are nearing or past 50, you may remember the old early 70′s TV show “Zoom”.  On that show, they would speak in “Ubbi Dubbie”, which (as TheCakeBreaker noted above), is essentially the same.  

  14. jamwin says:

    My sister in law still does this at 30 and I’m sure it’s no less annoying now than it was back when she was in school.

  15. Marius van Voorden says:

    Actually, most comments are only partially right.

    An “f” is placed after every vowel, and the vowel is repeated (phonetically).

    So the first few words are:
    “So today I went to school lunch”
    and are pronounced
    “Sofo tofodafay ifi wefent tofo schoofool lufunch”
    She makes a mistake at lufunch, and corrects slightly afterwards.
    She makes more mistakes along the way, making it hard to decipher.

    Interesting words:
    vifinefegafar chifips
    coofookiefies

    • Sekino says:

      Whaaa?… I feel SO inept. There is no way in hell I could ever speak like this as fast and accurately as she did on the recording.

      She’s some kind of jargon-jitsu master… I hope Mark is a fast runner or he’ll get hurt!

      • solitaire says:

        This reminds me of the girl who can speak backwards fluently.

      • Richard Dagenais says:

        We greatly underestimate the mental flexibility of our young people and waste most of this crucial time in their lives on dumbed down education in the name of normalizing curriculum for the slowbies.

        • Andreas Beer says:

          it’s the mental flexibility of the brain itself, a simple replacement rule like vowel -> vowel f vowel is one of the more easy tasks for our neurons, you can learn it with a bit of practice in a few hours. compare that to the “waste of time” of learning latin for several years…

        • Sekino says:

          I agree; what I’m saying is I don’t think I would have been able to do it this well even at that age.

          EDIT: Okay, I tried something similar in French and it’s a bit easier… I guess ‘pig latin’ comes more naturally in one’s mother tongue.

  16. Thomas Hodgson says:

    I was an Ob lad, but the weirder among us said ‘OLAFA’, which gets tedious. Who out there speaks Tutnee?

  17. Peter Ellis says:

    The variant I came across as a child was “egg talk” where yeggou 
    egginseggert eggan eggegg beggefeggore eggeveggereggy seggoundegged veggoweggel.

  18. cstatman says:

    Mark, 

    it is all part of her sekret plan,   be careful when a box of quadrotor flying machines arrive for her.   then?   you need to worry.  

    Remember, you can still take her out for ice cream, and keep her happy.

    :)

  19. ronharris2 says:

    Like other here, I learned the “op” version of this in school in the early 60s. We knew it as “Oppish.” We actually learned it out of a Scholastic Book Club paperback It was harder for others to understand than Pig Latin, but if you listened long enough you could figure it out. When our schoolmates reached that point we had to cease making snarky comments in front of our enemies.

  20. solstone says:

     I remember as a kid speaking ‘Gibberish’, which is similar to optalk and others like it except that you add ‘theg’ after every syllable (for instance ‘hello there’ becomes ‘hethegellethego thethegere’). Parentals and other adults, even those familiar with pig latin and such, could never parse what we were saying.

    Amazingly (to me anyway) I can still speak and understand this at full conversational speed. Weird. (Not that I often have opportunity or inclination, but still…)

    • haypenny says:

      Oh my god, I just posted on the exact same thing as you at the exact same time…weird. Where did you grow up?

    • wormhog says:

      methegee tuthegoo.

    • Emma Beckman says:

      My cousins and I learned gibberish (with “theg”) from our fathers growing up and I can still speak and understand it, similarly.  To make it really confusing my sister and I sometimes tried doing gibberish on top of pig latin (ethegellthegohthegay is hello) and every once in a while actually spoke a few words of French/Pig Latin/Gibberish! What a riot to see all these other, similar languages people have learned!

  21. haypenny says:

    We had a similar language we called ‘gibberish’ when we were growing up.  Simply put ‘ithig’ in each syllable. I would like to go to the library – Ithgi withigould lithigike tithigo githigo tithigo thithige lithigibrithigarithigy. I’m not kidding – it’s surprisingly easy to tune into when you’ve had a little practice, and it has natural rhythm. Rhythigithm.

  22. Abie says:

    When it rains, it pours! I only just discovered those code langages quite recently: “Op” in The Big Bang Theory (as linked) and gibberish in Y-the Last Man (a comic which starts with the almost complete annihilation of male mammals, including men).
    The sample principles apply in other languages too: in French for example (my mother tongue), there is a slang code called “javanais” (Javanese), that adds “av” to syllables. It’s not gender specific though, and quite dated. 
    Succint English WP page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Javanais , more details on the French one.

    This code is referenced in Serge Gainsbourg’s song “La Javanaise”, whose lyrics are so alliterative that it sounds like javanais http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duAk5um3B30

  23. Peter Park Nelson says:

    I think Verlan, which I heard a bit of while studying in France during college, is even trippier: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verlan

  24. Art says:

    it’s Fenglish: “The language where one combines the word ‘f**k’ with any other word imaginable by simply placing an ‘f’ in front of the word.” http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:P-uiMUoWfW8J:www.urbandictionary.com/define.php%3Fterm%3Dfenglish+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk

  25. I definitely used the variant with lots of ‘B’ sounds when I was in grade school or junior high. ‘B’ or ‘F’, it is mysterious at first but then it’s pretty easy to understand and speak after a short while.

  26. lectroid says:

    Some of us merely past 40 remember it too.

    Write Zoom! Box three five oh, Boston, Mass Ooohhh two ooone three fooouurrr

    SEND IT TO ZOOM!

    I discovered one of my managers back in the 90′s actually got his start as a production assistant and later, camera operator on zoom.
     

  27. Am I the only one to remember the Jetsons and the episode with Elroy’s secret code?  All that I can say to that is:  Eep op ork ah ah

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=eep%20op%20ork%20ah%20ah

  28. caipirina says:

    The things one has to get ready for when having a kid … maybe time for a BB parenting section?

  29. yosemite says:

    As others have said, it’s simply a reduplication of each syllable, substituting an [f] for the onset of the substituted syllable.

    It’s in fact a very common language game across the world. “Farfallino” in Italian:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farfallino_Alphabet

    Also called “jerigonza” in Spain and Latin America, but usually substituting [p] instead of [f].

  30. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    In Catholic grade school we used Pig Latin a lot.  This worked around the nuns because they knew enough real Latin to be confused by the similar sounding words.  Then the metal rulers came out…

  31. jeligula says:

    People have been doing the same for thousands of years, Mark.  Chances are that your daughter and her friends are using something entirely idiosyncratic to them.  You are nowhere near the first parent to encounter something of this nature.  You can take comfort in the fact that they are very smart individuals and are not randomly speaking in tongues because they have Kool-Aid on the brain. Had you twin daughters, you would encounter a language that you could never hope to break.

    • Hollow says:

       Ah yes I knew this sounded familiar. I have twins and to be quite honest their first words were for each other rather then me or their father.  :(  To top it off, One’s first word was Strawberry, The other’s first word was chocolate.  Not something you HOPE would happen.  But I suppose all those books and time spent reading while I was pregnant with them did some good!

      But yes the word play between them baffled me, I could ALMOST make out a word here or there, but it was never to be, they only spoke half the time the other half was with their hands and making facial expressions. Right down to body language use at 2!  I would watch them when they didn’t know I was looking and the intensity and diversity of their “twin language” was astounding. I always felt I was missing something.  Still do.

    • buddy66 says:

      My sister had three kids packed in tighter than sardines. They spoke a language that was impenetrable to anyone else. Forty years later, they remember very little of it.

  32. Richard Schneider says:

    Does “speaking in tongues” fall in here somewhere?

  33. Sutra says:

    I never made up or played these kinds of word games but my best friend and I made up our own symbols for the English alphabet so we can pass encrypted notes in school without fear of our 8th gradey secrets and drama getting out.

    • faithnomore says:

      Hahaha! You just made me recall that my best friend and I transcribed and memorized all of Tolkiens runes from The Hobbit for the very same purpose.

      Nerds!

  34. creativehumanoid says:

    F that shit.

  35. brettjsnyder says:

    Look up efenglifish
    Take the vowel sound in each syllable add an ‘f’ and repeat the vowel sound again? So ‘e’ becomes ‘efe’ and ‘o’ would become ‘ofo’
    Cat would be cafat
    Carrot becomes cafarrofot
    Vinegar becomes vifinefegafar

    Brett

  36. penguinchris says:

    Everyone’s making it seem like this is something common and easy to do, but this is the kind of thing that I am not sure I’d be able to understand (much less speak) even with lots of practice.

    I have a hard time understanding people speaking normally, though, sometimes (though I don’t normally have any trouble with heavy accents for some reason). Must be something to do with how the brain processes language. I’m not sure if I have Asperger’s or what, but I know I process speech differently than most people do.

    • ROSSINDETROIT says:

      No, you’re probably normal.  It’s just that what many people let come out of their mouths makes no freakin’ sense when parsed as English.  Happens to me all the time.  

  37. travtastic says:

    Your daughter is in a gang. I’m sorry.

  38. D Ellis says:

    I think the linguists call them ludlings.  So much fun!

  39. Godfree says:

    Katie katie bo-batie,
    banana fana fo-fatie
    fee fi fo-matie, Katie
    Just look at it.

  40. Senor Schaffer says:

    Mark is parenting through his blog. 

    *returns Made by Hand*

    I kid. I kid. 

    *ashes comically large cigar on ground*

  41. Sofia Ortiz says:

    In Mexico we call it “efe”, which literally just means “F”, and you do it by repeating each syllable but replacing the consonant with an F…

    • Jennifer Ramirez Johnson says:

      Yes. I remember a friend of mine from Mexico teaching me the same thing. In fact, I still have a hard time calling her anything but Afamafadefeleefee (Amadeli)!

  42. kmoser says:

    When I learned this we knew it as “Egg Latin”. Or: “Wheggen Eggi leggearnegged theggis wegge kneggew eggit eggas Eggegg Leggatteggin.”

  43. Eeep Op Ork Ah Ah- “That means I love you”!- by default, Mark has become George Jetson and the circle is complete

  44. Guest says:

    I laughed when I read this because it reminds of some guys from New Jersey who, instead of syllables or sounds, just put the word f+++ in front of almost every other word.  
    It’s not a very secret language either.

  45. jkg says:

    In 1981 my favorite song was Frankie Smiths “Double Dutch  Bus” with tons of the Harlem “izzle”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fK9hK82r-AM

  46. Theonlygolux says:

    My friends and I used to speak Egg Language” which involved putting the word “egg” before every vowel sound, so “happy birthday” would become “heggappeggy beggirthdeggay.”  We could speak it very fluently, and this Finglish of which you speak sounds like the same but with, as someone above said, uf or if in front of every vowel sound.

    I can still speak Egg language and it distresses my wife no end.

  47. strougly says:

    As far as I can make out, this language is Gibberish (or maybe some variant thereof?).  See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibberish_(language_game) .

    I first noticed this from the movie in “Slums of Beverly Hills” when Marisa Tomei and Natasha Lyonne are talking to each other.  See a clip of the language here (potentially NSFW): http://movieclips.com/6Fnz-slums-of-beverly-hills-movie-our-secret-language/

    Where did your daughter learn it?

  48. David Kurtenbach says:

    Up with cryptology!

  49. Ellinor Fägerstam says:

    I’m from Sweden and here we have two major equivalents; Rövarspråket (the robber’s language) and Fikonspråket (the fig language). 

    Rövarspråket is easy to learn. You double every consonant and add an o in between. Nothing is done to the vowels. For instance, Boing Boing would be Bob-o-i-non-gog Bob-o-i-non-gog. I would say that almost every swedish schoolchild is familliar with it, but at least when I was in that age some ten years ago it wasn’t widely used.
    Fikonspråket on the other hand is quite tricky and I have never really gotten the hang of it. You divide a word after the first syllable, co-|-ffee for example. Then you change the order of the two parts; -ffee | co-. Finally, you add fi- and -kon to the word respectively; fiffe and cokon. I don’t think many kids nowadays is familliar with this language, and it seems like a dreadful language to learn..

  50. Frode Helland says:

    Roremominondods mome ofof Rorøvoverorsospoproåkoketot!

  51. Nick Smith says:

    We had a similar language to the Gibberish vid posted above by strougly.

    At our senior school (Essex, UK, mid-80s) I believe it was called “uvvuguff” 

    I don’t know the exact rules of it, we all kinda just picked up as we went along, but it seemed that you added ‘uvvug’ into each syllable of a word, so:

    ‘The cat walked along the track’ became …

    The-uvvu c-uvvug-at w-uvvugalk-uvvug-ed a-uvvug-l-uvvug-ong th-uvvu tr-uvvug-ack

    You removed the ‘g’ at the end of  ‘uvvug’ if it made it difficult to say the word or it was too small …

  52. Petzl says:

    You muggles amuse me.  At my school, we simply used Parseltongue to get around the teachers.

  53. alissa mower clough says:

    Meusarry. (Old-time Noo Yawkese, popularized by Murry the K.) Boudledge. (Conlang peculiar to the Mitford Sisters.) Your daughter. Just leaves in a tree. 

  54. oscarfalcon says:

    Here we call it “speaking with the ‘eff’ “, it’s been around since I was in grade school, in my city.

  55. thermidorthelobster says:

    I’m pretty sure it’s Latvian.

  56. A friend of mine’s little brother had a language he called Ilsneh, which consists of inserting -ilsn in front of the first vowel, except for articles or prepositions. A frilnsnend of milsnine’s lilsnittle brilsnother hilsnad a lilsnanguage he cilnsalled Ilsnilsneh, etcetera.

  57. Bef says:

    It’s been used by children in Mexico for decades, and it’s called “Hablar con la efe” (to speak with the f). You have to add an f after every vowel sound while you speak. Hence, “Go to school” becomes “Gofo tofo schoofool”, and it sounds pretty complex when you first hear it but once you figure it out it’s pretty simple. I don’t know its origin, though, but it was used by my mom and aunt, who are now into their mid sixties.

  58. Susie Bright says:

    Mark, your daughter has a beautiful recorded speaking voice– audiogenic! And at her age, too… 

  59. mat catastrophe says:

    Kids can learn this shit but don’t know a damn thing about anything useful.

    /was totally one of those kids.

  60. buddy66 says:

    I worked for a touring carnival over 60 years ago and learned “Carny” — which is preceding or interjecting “eyuz” per syllable. I bet they still speak it, the carnies do.

  61. Nic Miskin says:

    Here’s an example of a similar language (I believe the same but with “b” instead of “f”) tossed into a poem by Vancouver’s Grand Slam Champion: Olivia B

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzAEnk2BxW4&feature=youtu.be 
    She starts at 1:36

  62. Präna Flux says:

    That is easy You just have to say add an extra syllable unsing an f and the last vowel used every for every syllable in the word sofo youfu cafan speafik afas thefey dofoo. greetings from a happy mexicun.

  63. anderalert says:

    Saw the Zoom comments already and would also add that friends of mine had carney parents that taught them a secret language to use around the marks. Carnies….

  64. eviladrian says:

    I’m always intrigued by Mark’s parenting posts, they’re like signposts to the future of parenting in the online era.  Crowdsourcing your kids’ secret code?  By 2014 there’ll be a Mechanical Turk iphone app for that!

    As an aside, I’ve noticed that girls nowadays seem to speak in a lower tone than when I were a lad, and the boys speak higher.  Is this just my ears getting older or is the change real?

  65. johne2 says:

    Sounds like Carnival speak or “Carny”

  66. megan finley says:

    Also interesting from a language and vocal standpoint, her accent sounded VERY familiar to me. I reasoned that she must be from LA or the valley. And when she ended it with “and I go to Campbell Hall” it all made sense — that’s the high school that I attended. 

Leave a Reply