While following the adventures of Yan, I learned a new language.
“Yan was much like other twelve-year-old boys in having a keen interest in Indians and in wild life, but he differed from most in this, that he never got over it,” wrote Ernest Thompson Seton, who chronicled Yan’s adventures in “Two Little Savages,” published in 1903 and reprinted in facsimile, with Seton’s original drawings, by Dover Publications. Seton was a naturalist for the government of Manitoba and heaped his book full of nature and Indian lore, including instructions and diagrams for building a tepee and for making fire, moccasins, and bows and arrows.
“Yan wanted to live as an Indian and desperately devoured any bit of knowledge to add to his stock, so with boyish enthusiasm he latched onto what sounded like an Indian tongue when … a new boy at school added to Yan’s savage equipment … he spoke a language called Tutnee. … It consisted in spelling every word, leaving the five vowels as they are, but doubling each consonant and putting a u between them. Thus b became bub, d dud, m mum, and so forth, except that c was suk, h hash, x zux, and w wak. Y became yak. The sample given by the new boy, sus-hash-u-tut u-pup yak-o-u-rur mum-o-u-tut-hash, was said to be a mode of enjoining silence.” http://rampantmandolin.blogspot.com/
Tutnee is commonly called Double Dutch, a secret language that alters English, making it unintelligible to the uninitiated. Double Dutch differs slightly from Tutnee in the excepted consonants: c is cash, h is hutch, j is jug, q is quack, r is rug, w is wash, y is yub and z is zub. Herbert S. Zim said about a half dozen secret languages existed in the United States when he wrote “Codes & Secret Writing,” first published in 1948, a fun little book packed with lessons on learning ciphers, secret languages and invisible writing.
The secret language familiar to most Americans is Pig Latin, source of the famous dismissal Amscray! The “Merriam-Webster New International Dictionary,” Third Edition, copyright 1961, defines Pig Latin as a jargon that is made by systematic mutilation of English. That definition was modified in the ninth Collegiate dictionary, published in the early 1980s, to systematic alteration.
The rules are simple, making Pig Latin easy to learn but difficult to follow, which is its purpose. If a word starts with a vowel, way is added to the end. Egg is eggway and away is awayway. If a word starts with a consonant, the first letter is moved to the end and ay is added after that letter. Head is eadway and his is ishay. If a word starts with multiple consonants, the consonants up to the first vowel are moved, turning break into eakbray and the into ethay. Break the egg over his head and run away becomes Eakbray ethay eggway overway ishay eadhay andway unray awayway.
Its mutilation limited to suffixes, Pig Latin is easier than Double Dutch and two others that add consonants to the interior of words: Turkey Irish and Opish. Turkey Irish dictates that the speaker insert ab before every vowel, turning goat into gaboabat, cat into cabat and about into abababoabut. The goat and cat capered about would be Thabe gaboabat aband cabat cabapaberabed abababoabut. Opish adds op after each consonant. Play the mandolin would be Poplopay tophope mopanopdopolopinop.
It’s possible to make up your own secret language. I invented a variation of Pig Latin once called Pigwar Latin. A couple of my friends went through this phase of adding war to the end of sentences — don’t ask me why; I dont know where it came from or what it meant; it was one of those weird things — so I combined war with Pig Latin’s ay endings. Dog is ogdarway and guitar is uitargarway. The dog howled when I played the guitar becomes Etharway ogdarway owledharway enwharway Iwarway etharway uitargarway. Utpay atthay inway ouryay ipepay andway okesmay itway!
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