Among my many GSL French Polynesia memories of homestays, Polynesian food and Tahitian dance, was one non-native facet: Çcleonika (KEK-LEE-ON) a language unique to Lakeside. Àyọ O. ’21, the creator and first of two fluent Çcleonika speakers, brought it all the way from Seattle to French Polynesia, and spoke it constantly. In the February issue of the Tatler, along with Mason S. ’21, Àyọ was voted most mysterious junior. In an effort to dispel the cloud of secrecy around our fellow classmate Àyọ, my investigative partner Ann and I set out to discover the secret language of Çcleonika.

Although Çcleonika may not have the historical roots of Spanish or French, it’s making up for lost time with its exponential development. Çcleonika originated from something we all probably took part in: creating our own made-up world. While living in Oregon during sixth grade, Àyọ created the nation of Karem. After drawing a map, he went on to complete his kingdom by giving it a national anthem, flower, and yes… its very own language. After eight years of development, Àyọ has created a word in Çcleonika for almost anything you can imagine. Àyọ, who speaks many languages, including Yoruba, French, and a little bit of Turkish and Spanish, drew from all four when creating Çcleonika.

As of right now, the list of Çcleonika speakers is rather short. It consists of Àyọ, his ten-year-old brother, and a few of Àyọ’s close friends who’ve learned through Kahoots and a Google Slide presentation. Àyọ’s older brother is sometimes included on this list, but as Àyọ told us, “He is kind of stubborn, so I speak to him in Çcleonika, and he responds to me in English or Spanish.”

Àyọ’s trust in the internet falls shortly after his Google Slideshows. When asked where he keeps track of the immense Çcleonika vocabulary he has created, Àyọ said he has written the words down in two paper dictionaries. 

Like us, you may be wondering, what do Àyọ’s parents — who don’t speak or understand Çcleoninka — think of this? It might not surprise you that they sometimes find it frustrating having children who speak their own incomprehensible language, and at times have banned Çcleonika in the household. Àyọ doesn’t seem to be bothered by his parents’ frustrations though, saying, “I continue to speak it regardless of what they say… It’s just one of those languages that gets juggled around the house.”

Finally, we asked Àyọ about the future of Çcleonika and whether he thought it would catch on. He replied, “I don’t know where it will take me. I’m just going to enjoy the moment and speak it for as long as I can.”


Ccleonika words/phrases:

How are you? Com aréré youle?

My name is… Meyi n’yemi ‘sa…

Do you speak Ccleonika? Fieç youk akaç Ccleonika?

True! Braig!