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grammar errors and secret languages


Webmiss recently asked me, regarding my journalism background, "Does it drive you crazy to read other people's blogs and see all manner of grammatical and punctuation errors?"

In a word: YES!

It's like the age-old debate of the chicken or the egg, I don't remember now if I had this skill before college or not. But it's sort of like being bilingual (I assume, a side note regarding that is on its way); I don't have to think about it, the errors just jump out and assault me. Interestingly enough, one "rule," if you will, (I think it was more of a pet-peeve) that has stuck with me since middle school involves the word "get."

My seventh-grade English teacher, Dr. Schelke, would not allow the use of the word "get" in her class. She insisted there was always another word that could be used that was more descriptive or, if nothing else, more useful. You would think I was given electroshock therapy regarding the use of that word. I avoid it like the plague. Sometimes I actually use it, but it's rare and I usually try to find another, more descriptive word to replace it.

Okay, time for the side note regarding being bilingual. I am not. My mother grew up speaking both Polish and English, in fact she learned English at school when she started Kindergarten, as they only spoke Polish at home. Anyway, she did not teach me or my siblings Polish.

My paternal grandfather grew up in Canada but ended up in Detroit. He was not bilingual either, unless you consider Pig Latin an actual language (which I do.) He called it Canadian Pig Latin, but I'm not sure if that's accurate. And before you jump to false conclusions, I am not talking about the pedestrian Pig Latin that every American child learns at some point in life. Example: am-scray, ease-play ass-pay the utter-bay (scram, please pass the butter.)

According to Wikipedia, the version I am talking about is known as Aighi Paighi, "a less known variant which was featured on British DJ John Peel's Saturday morning radio show. It works by adding -aigh- (pronounced ayg sort of like egg, but with a long a instead of an e) before the vowel of each syllable. Examples: speak becomes spai-gheak, hello becomes hai-ghell-ai-gho."

All of my siblings and I speak this Pig Latin fluently. (Surprisingly, my father and mother do not understand it or speak it. Bonus!) Some of us speak faster than others and can understand better than others, but I still employ this type of speech (with my siblings) on certain occasions. The craziest part of this Pig Latin is that I have absolutely no memory of actually learning it, I always knew how to speak it and until recently could not explain the grammatical rules. My sisters remember my grandfather actually teaching them the rules and how to speak it.

I tried to teach my husband early in the marriage so we could gossip freely in public, but he's not like that and never took an interest. Every so often, I will still start a sentence in Pig Latin to him, and then trail off as I remember he doesn't understand. I think I'm going to teach my kids, so the tradition lives on.

Do you think I could list Aighi Paighi on my resume as a fluently spoken foreign language?


2007-07-13 at 6:31 a.m.

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