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The term "cipherlang" (or "cypherlang" if you prefer) is what I call a verbally speakable means of systematically alterating an existing language. A cipherlang generally applies a specific set of rules to each word in a sentence to create a new ciphered sentence. A cipherlang need not be trivially translatable by a computer; it can apply modifications to the source language's grammar or even introduce a new grammar entirely, and it can even introduce its own unique set of vocabulary if it really wants to; however the key distiction between cipherlangs and proper languages is that it must be possible to apply a systematic set of rules to any given word in the source language in order to produce a valid word in the cipherlang with identical meaning and semantics.

Cipherlangs include language games which you may well have heard of before, such as Pig Latin and Ubbi Dubbi. Similar is Verlan in French, although that's less of a language and more a set of slang for concealing specific words, so it may not be considered a true cipherlang.

Among the conlang community, most people don't consider cipherlangs to be true conlangs, and often shun them as being a beginner's first step to creating "real" conlangs. However, I think it is fascinating and perhaps useful to have a system of concealing speech which does not require the memorization of any vocabulary, and (at least with English and its messy phonotactics and spelling) it can be an interesting challenge to create a cipherlang that balances efficiency (how long sentences end up being compared to their equivalent in the source language), pronouncability (whether it is easy or unwieldy to pronounce words in the cipherlang), obscurity (how difficult it is for someone who doesn't know the cipherlang to determine what's being said), and ease of learning and use.

The aim of this page is to include information about as much cipherlangs as I can, as well as a few things which may or may not be truly classified as "cipherlangs" under my definition, but which I still consider to be worth mentioning. Keep in mind that as an English speaker, this list is quite biased in favor of cipherlangs with English as a source language. It is simply much more likely that I'll find someone's obscure cipherlang based on English than someone's obscure cipherlang based on a language that I don't speak. Feel free to contact me if you think there is any cipherlang I should know about, preferably if you have documentation for it or otherwise have substantial information about how it works.

list of cipherlangs

(NOTE: This list is currently far from complete; there are many cipherlangs that aren't listed here yet either because I simply haven't got around to listing them yet, or because I haven't yet remembered they exist.)


(Source language: English | creator: Naru | year: 2020 at the latest)

Gnomish is a conlang based on a ciphering system for English, but it also has a bunch of unique grammar and vocabulary. Although, one is theoretically free to ignore all the grammar rules and just use the cipher, resulting in "a kind of pidgin-Gnomish that ignores most of the rules of Gnomish's elaborate grammar, but sometimes broken Gnomish is better than none." The cipher primarily works by converting each group of 2 letters into a specific syllable.

Gol nemwdfyn lomwthed in lydmonden
"I remember skiing in the winter"


(Source language: English | creator: Qwynegold | year: 2013)

Inng is an astonishingly complex (or at least, thats what all the big tables and paragraphs make it look like) cipherlang, with a grammar similar to English but nonetheless distinct. It encodes only the first few letters of English words, creating many homophones which are often disambiguated with compound words.

Ein gei gèh-kloò haht pẹe kang, hee bung haht pẹe zéi.
"If the thief had been caught he would have been executed."


(Source language: English | creator: Garret Warren | year: 2020)

Kotzelfoa is Garret Warren's fourth cipherlang iteration. It alternates between encoding each letter as an onset (one or more consonants) and as a rime (one or more vowels optionally followed by a consonant). This effectively converts each pair of letters in a word into a syllable, like Gnomish except in a more deterministic fashion. An audio sample from the creator is available here.

Riaskin skin riati vahenria katzoinskoatam shkojhamhoshi skiani dogi.
"This is the fourth working language I've made."


(Source language: Spanish | creator: Justin B. Rye | year: 2012)

Ostamer is a phonemic substition cipher made by Justin B. Rye, of Futurese and anti-Esperanto fame. Spanish was chosen as its base language for its comparatively simple phonotactics, reducing unweildy consonant clusters.

Ospe os in sukhlabe tel sispupisuén khenónhuka.
"Esto es un cifrado por sustitución fonémica."
(This is a phonemic substition cipher.)

Pig Latin

(Source language: English | creator: unknown | year: unknown)

Pig Latin is the most well-known English language game. It generally works by moving the inital letter(s) or sound(s) of each word to the end and adding the suffix -ay, although there are many variations and disagreements on what exactly the rules are. Some variants simply move each letter to the end of the word no matter what. Some variants treat words starting with consonants and words starting with vowels separately: vowel-inital words have nothing moved at all and simply have a special suffix added, which itself is wildly variable between people (-ay, -way, -yay, ...). Some variants only move the first consonant of a word to the end, while others move all consonants preceding the word's first vowel (the "onset") to the end. The example below uses the variant of Pig Latin I personally learned (entire onset to the end; -way for vowel words).

Iway ancay eakspay Igpay Atinlay.
I can speak Pig Latin.

Shilgne S'drawkab C'navdair

(Source language: English | creator: Tom R. | year: 2005)

Shilgne S'drawkab C'navdair (Backwards English Advanced) is based on reversing English words, and applies many grammatical modifications.

D'na thrae loh ebavit gaugnalis nos d'na cheepsis nos.
And the whole earth had one language and one speech.


(Source language: English | creator: Nicholas Hershy | year: 2014)

Uasi is a cipherlang which shifts each vowel letter to the one which follows it alphabetically, while also incorporating many other grammatical rules and even phonemic clicks, gulps and chest slaps. Uasi was the inspiration for my own cipherlang Viesa.

Osi Uasi lengaegi os nut es cumplix es Sua thonk. Woth ikaku lottli prectoci, Sua readP phresiT loki thos woth iesi.
(The Uasi language is not as complex as you think. With a little practice, you will be reading phrases like this with ease.

Ubbi Dubbi

(Source language: English | creator: unknown | year: unknown)

Ubbi Dubbi is a language game in which the syllable 'ub' /ʌb/ is placed before each vowel sound (with each 'ub' typically being stressed). It was popularized by the PBS Kids television series "Zoom" in the 1970s and its reboot in the early 2000s. Note that as a language with rules specific to spoken language, spelling in Ubbi Dubbi is often unclear, as the below example will demonstrate.

Wube nubeed tuboo gubet tuboo Plubantubashubon Ruboad ubon tubime.
We need to get to Plantation Road on time.


(Source language: English | creator: viba | year: 2018)

Viesa is my own creation, and is the cipherlang of mine I have put the most attention towards. It shifts each vowel to the one preceding it alphabetically (the opposite of Uasi, which Viesa was inspired by). It applies grammatical modifications and is usually written with the Cyrillic alphabet.

It was sort of created completely haphazardly and wasn't really meant to attain any of the goals described at the top of the page. It largely fails in the obscurity department, as it mostly does nothing but change vowels and leave most consonants unchanged, and it has a fair (but in my opinion not absurd) number of arbitrary and haphazardly added rules that may be confusing to learners. The only things it succeeds at are being efficient to speak and not particularily unwieldy to pronounce. However, it wasn't really meant to be good at anything, it was just a fun way of speaking I created one day.

Ђа лунгоуџа хува ги ћрио муни чунџас сенса нак краушеин.
"The language has gone through many changes since its creation."


(Source language: English | creator: Garret Warren | year: 2020)

Yalɪm (or Yalim) is Garret Warren's fifth and latest cipherlang iteration, which works by swapping individual English phonemes.

ge boɹaikk yalɪm
"by Garret Warren"

some external pages about cipherlangs