You Say “Hello”, I Say “Hi-by”


By Audrey W.






“Wai-bell! I-bif i-bit-i-bis-i-bent my-by i-bold fri-bend Jai-bon.”


John Gage screwed up his face at the odd greeting. . .or what ever it was. . .he’d gotten from Chet Kelly as he came into the dayroom.


“Just tell me there’s coffee ready to go with one of these donuts,” he said, referring to the large box of pastries on the table in the kitchen end of the room.


“Shai-bur, Jai-bon-nai-be.”


“Chet, what is wrong with you? Besides the usual,” Gage added with a snicker as he headed for the stove to get some coffee.


“Vi-ber-i-be fi-bun-i-be.”


“Why’re ya talkin’ like that, man? Even better’n that, what are ya talkin’?”


 “Dai bub-i-ble Dai-butch. Thai-bat’s wai-but.”


“Dai what?”


Chet sighed and got up from where he was seated on the couch with the morning paper. Both he and Gage had arrived for duty at Station 51 before the rest of their crew, aside from their captain. With the current firemen and paramedics on duty still out on a run, the two were the only ones hanging around as they waited for Captain Stanley to gather them for roll call later.


With the newspaper left behind in a heap, Chet walked over to his shiftmate. John had just poured his cup of brew and was about to sit at the table. 


“Dai bub-i-ble Dai-butch.”


“Would ya knock off the gibberish and speak in English?” 


Chet pulled out a chair and plopped down at the table just as John took a seat as well.


“Not gibberish, Johnny. Double Dutch!”


Gage pulled the box of donuts toward him until he could see his choices clearly, at the same time taking a glance at his friend.


“I’ve heard of Dutch, of course. . .who hasn’t? But I’ve never heard of double Dutch. You gotta be makin’ it up.”


He picked up a raspberry filled jelly donut and sniffed it before taking a bite.


“It’s a way to code what you’re saying, so no one can figure it out.”


Gage shoved the partially chewed piece of donut into his left cheek. “Well, it certainly works.” He narrowed his eyes in thought as he added, “But what’s the point if no one gets what you’re talkin’ about? Isn’t it easier just to not say anything at all?”


Chet held up his right index finger. “Ah, contraire, Johnny. The whole point is to hold a conversation with someone, while others around you remain baffled at what’s being said.”


“Talking in code,” the paramedic acknowledged with a nod.


“Bai-by Gai-borge, I-bai thai-bink- hi-be’s gai-bot i-bit.”


Gage gave it thought as he finished chewing his first bite of donut, followed by a swig of coffee.


This *could* be fun. . .then again, it *is* kinda dumb. He sighed. Ah, what the heck. . .


“Okay, I’m in,” he said as he set his cup back down on the table. “Just explain how it works.”






Chet rolled his eyes at Gage’s already obvious verbal stumble with the double dutch when the dark-haired paramedic didn’t continue.


“Boy,” he filled in.


Still standing beside his partner who’d just walked into the dayroom a moment earlier, John put his left arm across DeSoto’s shoulders from behind.


“--Boy. Ri-boy. Gai-bood mai-borning--”


“Bing,” Chet quickly offered, again with a roll of his eyes, this time a sigh as well.


“Mai-born-ni-bing,” the other corrected.


Roy eyed the other two shiftmates, Mike Stoker and Marco Lopez, who’d arrived a short time before him. They were seated at the table with Chet, each with a donut and cup of coffee in front of them. He gestured with his head toward Gage.


“Okay, which one of you broke ‘im.”


“Don’t look at me,” Marco said, Mike agreeing to include himself as innocent. “I’m fluid in Spanish.”


Roy’s gaze focused on Chet.


“Hey, ya gotta admit, Roy, sometimes he makes less sense than he is now when he’s talkin’ plain English.”


The three at the table snickered while Gage’s expression soured.


“Very funny.”


“Don’t you mean, vai-ber-aibe fi-bun-nai-be?”


John jerked his head to the side, his surprised gaze immediately on Roy as he pulled his arm away.


“You know double Dutch?”


“Sure. Joanne and I had to find a new way to talk in code in front of Chris once he started to catch on to the spelling of certain words. The teenagers in the neighborhood use it sometimes. We just had to ask a couple of ‘um to explain it.”


Christopher was Roy’s son, who’d just recently turned seven years old. There was a disadvantage for parents when their kids could finally spell a lot of words, John surmised. He glared at his ‘teacher’.


“Some secret code, Chai-bet.


Chet shrugged. “Well, at least Marco and Mike here didn’t know.”


“We didn’t care,” Mike reminded him.


He was right. He and Marco had just chalked the bizarre language up to it being Johnny and Chet, and went about their business of getting a quick breakfast.


“But you can teach us now.”


Chet turned in his chair to glance at Marco while John voiced, “Now ya take an interest?”




“Hi-by, Kai-bap-tai-bin.”


“Hi-by, Kai-bap-tai-bin,” Mike repeated after Chet.


“I-by thai-bink hai-be’s gai-bot i-bit.”


“My-babe-bai-be, My-barc-kai-bo.”


“Hi-be sai-bound-dai-bed gai-bood tai-boo mai-be.”


John shook his head at Roy’s comment that followed his.


“Pai-bar-rai-but-ting dai-boes-sai-bent- kai- bount.”




Captain Stanley had just gotten word that the C-Shift was on their way back to the station; his men would soon take over and officially start their duty till the next morning. As he made his way to the dayroom to let the other members of his crew know, he overheard their various voices speaking what sounded like gibberish.


Just outside the doorway, he listened to first Roy, then Chet.


“I-bai thai-bink-sai-bo.”


“Nai-bah. Nai-bo-wai-bay.”


John’s voice sounded next.


“Chai-bet, yai-bor cri-bazey.”


“Baze-zi-be,” came Chet’s.


“Baze-zi-be. . .cri-baze-zai-be.”


Hank shook his head as he turned and headed back to the office.


“I have no idea what that’s about and I don’t think I even wanna know,” he mumbled to himself.


Since he decided to not join the men quite yet, John and Chet would never get the satisfaction of knowing their little game left someone baffled after all.



This was inspired by this fun way we used to talk sometimes in the 1970s.


Double Dutch: Unique and secret language that can be spoken, written, and read. The trick to speaking it is to add "ib" before or after (depends on the word) each syllable. Rules differ depending on the medium of communication. 

SPEAK>WRITE means writing it how it is spoken. 

WRITE>READ means writing it so that when it is read, it sounds like it is being spoken. Similarities between the two can be identified when both ways are written.


Example of Double Dutch: 

"The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy brown dog." 

SPEAK>WRITE translation: 

"Thibe quibick bibrown fibox jibumps iboviber thibe libaziby bibrown dibog." 

WRITE>READ translation: 

"Thaiba quibickbi brownfi boxjai bumpsai bovai berthai balai bayzai bibai browndai bog." 



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