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Summary Details


Query:   Cross-ling Secret/Nonsense Language Names
Author:  Leena Kolehmainen
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Morphology

Summary:   Dear Linguistics

Couple of weeks ago we posted a query concerning the Finnish word ?Pig Latin/Gibberish? and relating words in other languages.

Several linguists responded to our query, and we were happy to be able to widen our perspectives. The topic has proven itself to be highly interesting: There are several delicious words for the phenomenon in different languages.

Following linguists helped us:
Werner Abraham
Flornce Bacabac
Melissa Beegle
Israel ''izzy'' Cohen
Corina Cojocariu
Lea Cyrus
Joris De Brucker
Sam Herrington
Robert Maier
Christopher Miller
Meng Nan
Mikael Parkvall
Marc Picard
Selja Sepp?l?
J L Speranza
Johnny Thomsen
Sheri Wells Jensen and the students
Jussi Ylikoski

We sincerely hope that we have not forgotten to mention anyone.

Below you will find a summary of the responses we received. In brackets you will find the name of the person who provided the information.

1) ARE THERE STUDIES ON THE ETYMOLOGY OF THE ENGLISH WORD ?
- cf. Hendrickson's Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins (Facts on File). (Marc Picard)
- Israel ''izzy'' Cohen suggests that both components of Pig Latin are derived from Semitic.

2) NAMES OF SECRET LANGUAGES:

FAROESE
- kr?kum?l ?(literally) crow language? (Johnny Thomsen)

FRENCH
- javanais 'Javanese' (Marc Picard; Sam Herrington)
- verlan (the opposite of 'l'envers', which means 'the opposite') (Christopher Miller; Sam Herrington)
- charabia (derived from the Maghribi?) (Christopher Miller)
- sh-arabiyya (derived from Arabic?) (Christopher Miller)
- baragouin - most often seen as the verb (apparently originated when Breton World War I conscripts asked for bread and wine in their language: 'bara' and 'gouin' respectively, cf. the Welsh 'bara' and 'gwyn') (Christopher Miller)

GERMAN
- H?hnersprache ?(literally) chicken language? (Lea Cyrus)
- L?ffelsprache ?(literally) spoon language? (Lea Cyrus)
- K?chenlatein ?(literally) kitchen Latin? (Robert Maier)
- Anglerlatein ?(literally) angler Latin? (Robert Maier)
- J?gerlatein ?(literally) huntsmen Latin? (Robert Maier)

ROMANIAN
- pasareasca ?(literally) birds' language (Corina Cojocariu)

SWEDISH
- r?varspr?ket ?(literally) robber language? (Mikael Parkvall)
- fikonspr?ket ?(literally) fig language? (Mikael Parkvall)
- rotv?lska (a loan from the German , for cf. the German expression Kauderwelsch below( (Mikael Parkvall)

3) WORDS/EXPRESSIONS MEANING ?A NOT UNDERSTABLE LANGUAGE?:

AUSTRALIAN ENGLISH
- 'it's Hebrew to me ?you don't get it? (Sheri Wells Jensen)

BELGIAN FRENCH
- tu parles un peu chinois ?(literally) you speak a little Chinese? (Melissa Beegle)

DANISH
- kragem?l ?(literally) crow language? (Johnny Thomsen)

DUTCH
- kutarwals (cf. the description of the German Kauderwelsch; Werner Abraham)
- Dat is Chinees voor mij ?(literally) that is Chinese to me? (Joris De Brucker)
- Ik spreek toch geen Chinees? ?(literally) I don`t speak Chinese, do I??/?the speaker is frustrated because his/her audience does not seem to understand what he is saying (in both cases, the reason for not understanding is usually the difficulty of what is being said)? (Joris De Brucker)
- aan het einde van zijn Latijn zijn ?(literally) to be at the end of one`s Latin?/?the speaker has tried every possible solution to a problem, with no success? (Joris De Brucker)
-Iemand iets Diets maken ?(literally) to make something Diets to someone?/?to make something clear to someone, ''to spell it out'' or ''to say it in plain English''; the word Diets used to refer to Germanic languages such as Nieder-Deutch and later Dutch dialects (Joris De Brucker)

ENGLISH
- it's Greek to me (Marc Picard; Sheri Wells Jensen)
- double Dutch (Christopher Miller)

ECUADORAN SPANISH
- Habla Cristiano '(literally) talk Christian? (Sheri Wells-Jensen)

FILIPINO
- ''It's German to me'' (Original Filipino expression not provided; Flornce Bacabac)

FRENCH
- parler fran?ais comme une vache espagnole ?(literally) to speak French like a Spanish cow' (Marc Picard; Selja Sepp?l?)
- C'est du chinois'' ?(literally) It's Chinese? (Sam Herrington; Marc Picard; Corina Cojocariu)
- J'y perds mon latin ?(literally) ?I lose my Latin in it? (Sam Herrington)
- C'est de l'h??breu ?(literally) It's Hebrew? meaning ?This is unintelligible, incomprehensible? (Corina Cojocariu)

GERMAN
- K/kauderwelsch ( (Dutch ) standing for ?Roman, Italian?, for the province Chur/Kauer) (Werner Abraham)
- das sind f?r mich b?hmische D?rfer ?(literally) that's villages in Bohemia for
me?/?the speaker does not know the first thing about a particular topic?(Robert Maier)
- das kommt mir spanisch vor ?(literally) that appears Spanish to me? (Robert Maier)

ICELANDIC
- hrognam?l (hrogna- in all probability is from ''hrogn'' (fish roe) in the sense of something ''pulpy, mushy'' and therefore incomprehensible) (Johnny Thomsen)

LUDE
- venalaizhed l?udin kielei pagizhijuoid nagrettii: ''oi t?? vazad! vazankielei pagizhette'' (?The Russians were laughing about the Lude speakers: You calves! You are speaking a calf language?; Excerpt from a Lude conversation; Jussi Ylikoski)

MANDARIN CHINESE
- tian1 shu1 (tian1 means ?heaven? or ?sky?, shu1 means ?books?, ?texts? or ?notes? -> ?text used in heaven? (Meng Nan) or alternatively, ?it's heaven book? (Jian, a student of Sheri Wells Jensen)
- God, what kind of ''bird language''! (used only by men; original Mandarin expression not provided (Jian, a student of Sheri Wells Jensen)
- In a conversation between two persons, when one interlocutor tries to instill some new information or knowledge into the other one who has no clue at all, we say the one who is instilling is ''playing dulcimer to an ox'' original Mandarin expression not provided (Jian, a student of Sheri Wells Jensen)

NORWEGIAN
- kr?kem?l ?(literally) crow language? (Johnny Thomsen)

ROMANIAN
- pasareasca ?(literally) birds' language? -> Nu inteleg pasareasca ta ?I dont't get what you're saying to me? (Corina Cojocariu)

SWEDISH
- rappakalja (the word is a loan from the Finnish word originally meaning a sort of ?beer?) (Mikael Parkvall)
- rena grekiskan ?(literally) pure Greek? (Mikael Parkvall)

We warmly thank everybody for helping us!

We will present our results in a poster on the first joint Finnish-Estonian conference of Linguistics to be held in Tallinn, Estonia, May 6-7 2004. If you are interested in receiving a handout after the conference, please do not hesitate to contact us. But please note that the handout will be only in Finnish!!!

With best regards,
Leena Kolehmainen (leena.kolehmainen@helsinki.fi)
and
Eija Jokinen (eija.t.jokinen@uta.fi

LL Issue: 15.1085
Date Posted: 30-Mar-2004
Original Query: Read original query


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