Gibberish

From Academic Kids

Gibberish is a generic term in English for talking that sounds like speech but has no actual meaning. This meaning has also been extended to meaningless text (such as "gadeegoolagoochigoogallygadgad").

It is also used to refer to language games created by inserting a certain code syllable in the middle of each syllable of a regular sentence. For example, if the code syllable 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. While any syllables could theoretically be used as code syllables, there are some which have risen to greater use.

  • Ubbi dubbi – "ub"
  • Double Dutch – "ag"
  • Op (or Oppish, or Openglopish) – "op"
  • Gibberish (pronounced with a hard 'G') – "itug" or "idig"

In addition, some variations exist with longer code sequences such as "ubbagg", resulting in even more gibberish-sounding gibberish. (Yubbaggou dubbaggon't wubbaggant tubbaggo knubbaggow).

Another variation consists in the code syllable not having a specific vowel, but repeating the vowel it of the syllable it is inserted in. This variation is common in Switzerland, where the inserted syllable thus could be called "VnVf", where V denotes 'any vowel', e.g. "Hallo, Chrige" would be translated into "Hanafallonofo, Chrinifigenefe".

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').

Origin of the term

There are a couple of possible origins here. One says that the basis is in the old word "gibber" which is allied to "jabber". The problem with this one is that "gibberish" was in use before the word "gibber", therefore making things dubious. A better explanation says the word comes from Geber, the name of an Arabian alchemist in the 11th century. He invented a strange terminology so that his works could not be understood by others; more importantly, he could not be accused of heresy, which was punishable by death. "Gibberish" in its modern sense was certainly known by 1811.

Despite the intelligent purpose behind the creation of the term, "gibberish" today is used as a derogatory term to suggest something has no merit (i.e. "that's a lot of gibberish") rather than the (supposedly) more accurate use, which would be akin to "that sounds like a lot of encrypted information," which nobody says. Common usage dictates that gibberish mean unintelligent, meaningless, uninformed, or worse, when in fact, the opposite is true. Often enough to be considered, the term happens usually to be aimed at politicans, public speakers and "pseudo-intellectuals" (depending on the point of view).

A seperate language related to Gibberish is Gibblaterish. It involves combining both Gibberish ("itug or idig") and Pig Latin to create an ultimately simple and yet tough to decipher language to a non Gibllaterer.

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