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Gibberish (sometimes Jibberish) is a language game or secret language similar to Pig Latin that is played in the United States, Canada and Northern Ireland. Similar games are played in many other countries. The name Gibberish refers to the nonsensical sound of words spoken according to the rules of this game.
There are not many variations of Gibberish in the English-speaking world. They use -itherg-, "thg", -elag-, -itug-,-uthaga-, -uvug-, -idig-, -atheg- (th in then and the two vowels are pronounced with a schwa), and -adeg-. The dialects are given different names. Another form of gibberish known as allibi is spoken using the insertion -allib-.
When a syllable starts with more than one consonant, the infix is added after the onset consonants. Example:
When the syllable begins with a vowel, that vowel is used in place of the first i in the -ithieg- infix. Example:
Words of more than one syllable repeat the rules for each syllable.
This dialect works in much the same way as the previous dialects, with an additional rule. When a single syllable word begins with a vowel, the infix acts as a prefix, with the initial "a" becoming like that vowel.
The sentence "I hit the alarm clock when I woke up" could be "Ittiguy Hittigit thittagee addagalitigarm clidigock wittigen Ittiguy wittigoke uttigup".
Another paradigm involves infixing (V)rV+g following the onset of a monosyllabic word, or less usually after each onset or nucleus of polysyllabic words. In words consisting of a single diphthong, the Gibberish morpheme breaks up the syllable into a sequence of vowels plus a glide. The vowels of the Gibberish morpheme typically harmonize for quality with the vowel of the syllable nucleus, but can be reduced if unstressed according to English stress rules. The [ɡ] syllabifies into a new onset. Examples:
L can also be commonly used instead of r. Examples:
The term "gibberish" is used more generally to refer to all language games created by inserting a certain infix before the vowel in each syllable. For example, if the code infix were "ob", then "Hello, Thomas" would be translated as "Hobellobo, Thobomobas". While a relatively simple code, this can be difficult to understand when spoken swiftly and sounds merely like meaningless babble, which is how it received its name. The terms "Double Talk" and "Double Dutch" are alternate names for such codes. While any syllables could be used as code syllables, some syllables are more commonly used. These include:
Another variation consists in the code syllables not having a specific vowel, but repeating the vowel of the syllable in which it is being inserted. This variation is common in Switzerland, where the inserted syllable thus could be "@n@f", where @ denotes the original vowel, e.g. "Hallo, Chrige" would be translated into Hanafallonofo, Chrinifigenefe. Similarly, "Lalafa" replaces each occurrence of a vowel with "@ləf@." In Gibberish as spoken in the United Kingdom, the infix code syllable is often "@rag".
In some variants only the first sylable of each word is modified. On the other hand, combining (or double-encoding) forms of Gibberish, or by further encoding with other languages games such as Pig Latin and Tutnese can result in increasingly hard to decipher (and pronounce) words. For instance, combining Pig Latin, Hard Gibberish and Openglopish might result in a phrase idigopidigatthidigopidigay idigopidigoundsidigopidigay idigopidigikelidigopidigay idigopidigisthidigopidigay ('that sounds like this').
Language games in the Gibberish family are not unique to English-speaking countries. Gibberish games in other languages include: