Code Talking for the Dumb

Pig Latin:

A 29-year-old man was taped using the code language Pig Latin to organise reprisal gangs the day after the Cronulla riots, a Sydney court heard today.

Yep, Pig Latin.

Posted on August 20, 2007 at 3:48 PM • 17 Comments

Comments

ThomasAugust 20, 2007 4:16 PM

He probably got the idea form the Fantastic 4 who used pig Latin to hatch an escape plan while Dr Dooms hench-robots were listening.

Cool episode, Bruce, you'd have loved the robotic squid with the tentacles squirting corrosive poison.

GrahameAugust 20, 2007 10:28 PM

Nothing wrong with Pig Latin. I used to use it with my brother and uncle when I was a kid. I think it was quite common in Australia for a while. If you get good at it, you can go quite fast.

Though I did catch him and his wife exchanging something quite unsuitable for public consumption using pig latin some years later. (a common security problem: Who else can read your code?)

SkippernAugust 21, 2007 2:36 AM

I have a friend who could have fooled the police there, though his fellows would have equal problems understanding him.

If you record a conversation with him when he is drunk you might be able to write it down as assembly code and get a running program (most likely on M68K chips...)

What is that for code for you?

extra88August 21, 2007 9:02 AM

When I spent a week in Denmark with a group of U.S. students, we got a annoyed that some of the local teens would switch to Danish and talk amongst themselves. To "retaliate," some of us would speak to each other in Pig Latin. As you can imagine, the Danish teens were fluent in English but being unfamiliar with our "code," they couldn't understand what we were saying.

J.D. AbolinsAugust 21, 2007 11:34 AM

According to the news article, the suspect was recorded saying, "Ring up a few boys - bring 'ankshays' and 'atbays'". The Pig Latin was used only for the weapons in that statement. If the suspects only Pig Latinised words for weapons and such, the switch from English to Pig Latin would draw attention to the Pg Latin words.

Now, if they spoke complete Pig Latin sentences, it might have made it harder for investigators. But these conversations were being taped, so there would be opportunities to replay the recordings. Without recordings and just human memories, it might be a different story. (I can just picture a human witness being challenge by the defence about his expertise in Pig Latin. The defence starts asking questions in Pig Latin...)

I was pondering what if the suspects had tried the Navajo Code Talk system. It was useful for the US during the Second World War. It seems, however, that its strength via obscurity has diminished over the years. The code talkers dictionaries are available online and a recent UK & US best selling book for children has a Navajo code talk section. (The Dangerous Book for Boys by Hal Iggulden) The Navajo "bah-has-tkih" -- secret -- is no longer as much of a secret as it once was.

OkayAugust 21, 2007 2:47 PM

I think the title of this post should be "for the stupid". "Dumb" can also mean unable to vocalize speech. I had a mental picture of Pig Latin in sign language, and was wondering how that worked...

anonymousAugust 22, 2007 11:44 AM

@JD As I understand it, the Navajo Cold Talking System was protected on several levels. Sort of a perfect storm of security by obscurity.

Navajo was very obscure to start with, but you needed a Navajo trained in the system. Navajo native speakers untrained in the code would get lots of garbage/non-sense. I recall hearing that some Navajo's were captured and couldn't understand the system.

Portable recording technology was a bit scarce then. Even if you recorded it, I doubt that Japanese speakers would hear all of the sounds correctly. This would create confusion. Like orientals and english L/R or english speakers and the different Korean P's.

It was tactical, fast, and messages were done on the fly.

anonymous canuckAugust 22, 2007 11:59 AM

An idea whose time has past, by about a hundred years. Wasn't this what Cockney Rhyming Slang was all about, confusing the cops.

There are a bunch of less well known ways of speach scrambling. I used to know a few. Besides Pig Latin, there was alfalfa, turkeyish, dobby. None hold up to someone with a recording and google.

@JD Abolins - I recall hearing of a pair of Scottish POWs that escaped in WWII. They spoke only Gaelic and supposedly were caught and released a couple of times before getting away.

KanlyAugust 22, 2007 5:53 PM

Doesn't make sense. The gentleman organizing the reprisals was Lebanese:
Shouldn't he have used Pig Lebanese?

The riots were by right-wing Aussie drunken thug yobbos who spend the day riding around Cronulla bashing up anyone with colored skin: Lebanese were the target, but they got a few Indians too.

BTW Russell Crowe narrated a self-promotional documentary by the thugs. Not hard to see what he and they they have in common. Neither Prime Minister Howard or then Opposition Leader Beazley would criticize the rioters: "More yobbo votes to be had then leb votes".

TankAugust 26, 2007 2:19 AM

Who cares what he said.
I would have thought the only interesting story here is that in an environment where hundreds of random individuals were making calls only 24 hours after a riot involving none of them (in fact directed at them) had just occurred, the police have any idea what they said at all.

If I told you that one of these anti-war marches in DC got violent and that the cops had a recording of what a pro-war advocate (who wasn't involved in that rally) had said on his phone the next day, the only story there is that this guy was being surveilled before he did anything wrong. Regardless of what words he used.

TankAugust 26, 2007 2:24 AM

"BTW Russell Crowe narrated a self-promotional documentary by the thugs."
Posted by: Kanly at August 22, 2007 05:53 PM

No, he narrated a documentary about the Bra Boys, who stood with Lebanese community leaders in condemning the riots.

"Not hard to see what he and they they have in common. Neither Prime Minister Howard or then Opposition Leader Beazley would criticize the rioters: "More yobbo votes to be had then leb votes"."
Posted by: Kanly at August 22, 2007 05:53 PM

Wrong again, there wasn't any politician who didn't condemn these riots in every available medium for days afterwards.

Way to talk shit there pal.

KiloAugust 26, 2007 2:30 AM

"Just one word for it: Upidstay"
Posted by: Tammy at August 20, 2007 04:34 PM

This is a strange sentiment to take.
Someone taps your phone before you commit a crime, and you're stupid if you use a weak code to disguise what you say.

Well, where's that leave you and all your buddies who've been bitching about having all your calls intercepted for the past 2 and a half years ?
You don't use any code.
What do we call you ?

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