Some secret languages exist in the world today, spoken and understood only by those in the know. These various secret tongues are employed by a diverse range of groups, including traditional healers, professional wrestlers, citizens of specific communities, and even criminals. Here are ten secret languages explained in detail, complete with links to some dictionaries or converters we could find.
Polari started off as a means of communication among British sailors in the 19th century but became the unofficial language of British gays between the 1930s and 1960s, when being gay was illegal in Britain. Polari allowed gays to secretly talk with themselves and strike conversations with strangers they felt were gay. If the stranger replied, they knew he was game, but if he did not, they continued minding their business—all without giving a clue to their sexuality.
In Polari, sex is called “trade,” while “cottaging” refers to the act of looking for partners in bathrooms. “Vada” means “look at,” “dolly eek” refers to a pretty face, and a “chicken” is a young man. Police officers are called “sharpy,” “lilly law,” or “charpering omi,” while an attractive man is called a “dish.” A telephone is called a “polari pipe,” while Polari itself means “talk.” A dictionary of Polari terms can be found here.
2. Pig Latin
Children, and sometimes adults, use Pig Latin, which is formed by altering words of the English Language, to secretly communicate among themselves. It was first used around 1869 and has been called other names, like Hog Latin, Goose Latin and Dog Latin. Some Pig Latin words like “ixnay,” which was derived from the word “nix,” and “amscray,” which was derived from the word “scram,” have been adopted into the English language.
Converting an English word to Pig Latin depends on the letter or group of letters that begins the word. If it begins with a vowel, “way” is added to its end, so “awesome” becomes “awesomeway.” If it begins with a consonant followed by a vowel, the consonant is moved to the end of the word, and “ay” is added, so, “happy” becomes “appyhay.” If it begins with two consonants, both consonants are moved to the end of the word, and ”ay” is added, so, “child” becomes “ildchay.”
An English–Pig Latin converter can be found here. “Pig Latin” translates to “igpay atinlay,”