When I was a child, we used to have these games where we would speak Spanish with only one vowel sound. We’d agree on which of the five vowels we’d use and from then on speak only with thatone. For instance, when playing the game with the vowel “a”, the sentence “Ayer vi a tu hermano en el supermercado” becomes “Ayar va a a ta harmana an al saparmarcado“.

A couple of years ago, I showed my small children this game and they were able to quickly catch what what I was saying. They even ventured to say a few things with just one vowel. It was a simple game, but a lot of fun. Warning: some vowels are hilarious!

Of course I had to make it complicated.

I decided that I wanted to play the game in hard mode, and I made up a variation which did not replace all vowel sounds with the same chosen one,  but instead replaced each vowel sound with the next. In essence:

  • A becomes E
  • E becomes I
  • I becomes O
  • O becomes U
  • U becomes A

This leaves the example sentence from above as “Eyir vo e ta hirmenu in il sapirmirquedu“.

I called this Ispeñul, as this is the result of applying the rule to the word “español” (Spanish).

This was too complicated at the time for my children, so they promptly forgot about Ispeñul. But I never forgot about it. In fact, I bring it up periodically to my kids, hoping that there will come a time when they are old enough to be able to do translate with certain agility, but not too old to find this uncool.

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