Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ceah-zarny Speah-zeek

People that have worked in sideshows on carnivals live in a closed world of their own. A lot of this has to do with the nomad-like existence they lead. To protect themselves, carnies have a Pig Latin-esque tongue they lapse into whenever they wish to communicate with each other without being understood by the rest of the world (and the rest of the world we are mostly talking about are the police and the marks).

It’s called Carny or Carny Speak. It’s very simple. Take any word or name like Todd, and insert between the initial consonant and the first vowel the sound eah-z. The results sound like Teah-zodd. For multiple syllable words or names, like Robbins, usually just the first syllable is changed making it Reah-zobbins. Some carnies like to do all the syllables, such as, Reah-z0b-beah-zins. Until you get comfortable with Carny Speak, just do the first syllable of words. For words that start with a vowel, like of, the eah-z is added in front of the word, making it eah-zof.

So a simple (and truthful) sentence would be Teah-zodd Reah-zobbins eah-zis thea-zee grea-zatest!

It takes awhile to get good at Carny Speak. The best way to gain proficiency talking and hearing it is to learn it with a friend and speah-zeak eah-zit beah-zack eah-zand feah-zorth.

I learned Carny Speak from a wonderful carny performer named Bob Brown. Bob worked as a magician, lecturer and outside talker for Dick Best back in the 1950s.

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