Ubbi dubbi is a language game spoken with the English language. It was popularized by the 1972-1978 PBS children's show Zoom. ... Ubbi dubbi works by adding -ub- /ʌb/ before each vowel sound in a syllable.

I was exposed to this game from Zoom, but didn't actually learn how it worked until early high school.

From the Language Game wiki article, it looks like there is something called Fanqie (反切), but this doesn't really feel like a language game in the same way Ubbi Dubbi does; Ubbi Dubbi is spoken just for fun (or maybe to be slightly secretive, but native speakers can often understand it even if they don't know how it works)

Are there games like Ubbi Dubbi for spoken Chinese (preferable Mandarin, but would be interested in general)? Any audio or video examples?

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    There is a whole section about language games in Duanmu San's The Phonology of Standard Chinese. I don't have the book nearby at the moment, but if I recall correctly, he describes several variant where parts of syllables are moved around and nonsense syllables are inserted. Not much of an answer, but at least you know where to find more if you wish!
    – Olle Linge
    Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 5:32
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    @OlleLinge Thanks for this reference! As luck would have it, it's in my university online library. It looks like section 4.6 (about 5 pages) covers 3 language games: Na-ma, Mai-ka, Mo-pa.
    – Stephen C
    Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 15:19

1 Answer 1


To my knowledge, I used to play a game called 成语接龙( Idiom Solitaire, perhaps), which I think it may be similar to the spoken game that you just mentioned.

In the 成语接龙, you are required to say an idiom, and your frind have to say anthor idiom starting with a Chinese character whhose pronunciation is similar to the final Chinese character's pronunciation of your idiom.


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  • This looks like an interesting game, but not quite what I had in mind. Looking for more a "secret language within the language" kind of game.
    – Stephen C
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 0:51

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