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April 09, 2007


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What you refer to as "inversion of syllables" are actually two substantively different types of changes. GOTAN is an inversion of the syllables of TANGO; but LOSANGE retains the same syllabic structure as SOLANGE and simply transposes the first and second consonants ... as does LACKEEN for COLLEEN.

Were these techniques simply a form of wordplay, were they the result of mis-hearing or mispronunciation, or were they a deliberate attempt to create a simple oral cipher, along the lines of "Pig Latin"?


Bob--You're right, of course. "Inversion of phonemes" is closer to the mark. And it's my understanding that such transpositions are conscious word play, more like Cockney rhyming slang (which inserts an occasional phrase into more or less standard English) than Pig Latin, which is an entire invented language. But I'd love to hear from a real linguist on this subject.

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