Sigaboley—the secret language

Sundance-and-Emmy-Award-winning filmmaker Judy Irving, famous for THE WILD PARROTS OF TELEGRAPH HILL and more recently, PELICAN DREAMS, shares her memory of the imaginary language she invented as a child.

When I was 5 and under, I had a secret language called “Sigaboley,” and only my friend Peter and I could speak it. I could walk under the dining room table at the time, standing straight up. Peter Van Zandt and I walked under there and talked to each other in Sigaboley. I probably created “Sigabole” because it was easier to speak than English at the time. I had more freedom to make up words and sentences and blurt them out. Because of this, I felt accomplished and powerful. It must have sounded like gibberish to everyone but Peter, who claimed to understand what I was saying. There was no grammar, which meant more freedom of expression. I don’t remember any words now, alas, not even “love.” Because I couldn’t write when I was that young, Sigabole was never written down, it was just oral. I have no artifacts from that time, except memory.

Judy Irving at about two years old, maybe just beginning to conceptualize her imaginary language called Sigaboley!


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