Secret languages of twins


The most interesting thing about this phenomenon, from some linguistic research I did, is that it happens more often with identical twins than fraternal ones.


My brother and I are 13 months apart. We didn’t have a secret language, but we often when we were alone talked in the voice of characters that for some reason had our dog’s name, and they had a whole little world of their own and way of interacting. We don’t do it now that we are adults, but we started it when we were 9 & 10 and would talk like that throughout our high school days.

I could kinda see that. Given that at least some of your personality is genetically determined, identical twins may develop it easier because, at the age when they’re beginning to develop language skills, they may have a slightly better idea of how the other thinks than fraternal twins in the same situation would.

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That’s not so impressive. I have a secret language that I share with nobody at all.


I actually did make up my own alphabet in grade school – I would write notes to myself in the margins of my notebooks.


Someone should mention the much more lurid tale of the Gibbons twins in Wales so I will.

They inspired some interesting fictional accounts too, e.g.


One of the theories is that talking to an identical twin is like talking to yourself. Babies haven’t quite figured out where they end and other people begin, yet. So having someone identical to you in every way parroting your babbling back to you is just enforcing the unusual speech pattern. Twins get as much or more vocal input from each other than they do from their parents.

The thing I thought was interesting is that the theory also says that parents of twins, being somewhat overworked, have less one-on-one with each child. But you’d think fraternal twins’ parents would have the same issue. Also, in my research, I interviewed an identical twin who had a full-time nanny in addition to both parents and she and her sister still had idioglossia.

What I was most dying to know - and there appears to be no research on - is if it happens in larger multiples. Identical triplets aren’t nearly as common as twins. Quadruplets? Bigger?


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