PUBLISHED: 5:24 PM on Wednesday, May 30, 2007
No matter how you say it, secret codes can be "unfay"
When you were a kid, did you ever hear others - especially adults - speak in code around you? I did.

Code language in my home usually took place around the supper table. That's when Momand Dad spelled things out in front of me.

"We're having h-u-c-k-l-e-b-e-r-r-y p-i-e for d-e-s-s-e-r-t," Mom said.

"What did you just say?" I'd ask.

"None of your beeswax." My big sister could spell, and boy, did she ever want me to know it.Conversations like that just about drove me nuts - until I became a savvy third grader and adopted spelling as my lifelong favorite subject.One day I decoded Mom's secret and opened the fridge for an after-schoolsnack.

"What are you getting into?" Mom called out.

"H-u-c-k-l-e-b-e-r-r-yE p-i-e."

Boy, I was one smart cookie now. I'd broken the code. No more wool over my eyes.

Nosiree, Bub.


They switched to Pig Latin - or "igpay atinlay" - before I could even wipe the purple stains from my mouth. I never did quite get the whole Pig Latin thing, although it was supposedly a simple code to crack.

But Karen Robinson found it easy.

"You take the consonant that's at the beginning and move it to the end. For example, you take the 'p' in pig and move it to the end so 'pig' becomes 'igpay.' And it doesn't work with words that begin with vowels," Robinson said, who spoke Pig Latin proficiently as a third grader.

"My best girlfriend and I used it on the playground if we didn't want the others to understand; but of course, they did," Robinson said.

Wanda Sheets, a friend of Robinson, summed it up this way: "It's like text messaging today," she commented.Foreign languages became another source for secret codes.

"My husband and I used to speak Dutch in front of our kids. The oldest one knew it, but the second and third kids - they got lost," reader Shirley Pyl said.And just when I'd heard it all, another reader offered her own version of speaking in code - to her pets, no less.

"With my dad's dog, you'd spell, 'g-o f-o-r a r-i-d-e," and the dog understood, Beverlea Bolin said.Whether we're sneaking a piece of p-i-e, playing at recess, or taking the dog for a r-i-d-e in the car, speaking in code can be fun, don't you agree?

Or as Robinson might put it, using an "ecretsay essagemay" can be downright "unfay."

Coming up: Do you recall a lesson you learned from a special dad in your life? Contact me if you'd like to share it.

Judy Halone ( is a member of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.