Twin language?

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Categories Other people, Toddlers

Last week I caught up with a college friend who I haven’t seen in a long time. Her daughter is the same age as my boys and we were commiserating over toddler insanity. One of the first questions she asked was whether my boys truly have a secret twin language.

My first snarky thought was – if it’s a secret twin language, how would I know about it if I’m not a twin myself? Instead I answered that I’ve never seen any evidence of a twin language with my boys. In 2 1/2 years, I’ve gotten inappropriate questions, crazy questions, and standard questions, but never that question.

So it made me wonder – has anyone experienced twin language first-hand? And how often do multiple parents get asked this question?

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21 thoughts on “Twin language?”

  1. Really? No one has ever asked you that? People ask me all the time, which is particularly amusing as my kids appear to have almost no language whatsoever….

    So, no. No twin language here, unless you count mimicking raspberries.

  2. My 13 month olds aren’t really speaking yet. Each has a few words that aren’t necessarily applied correctly (ex: doggie for toys and brother, dada for the cat, the tv, whatever). But they do seem to have some sort of odd silent communication.

    Every so often when they’re in a mood, they’ll just look at each other and start giggling. Then they’ll chase each other around the room, occasionally switching who’s the chaser/chasee and they both seem to understand exactly when that change happens. And the funniest is when my husband and I are each playing with a child and they will leave us at the exact same moment to change to the other parent.

    It’s all stuff that we sometimes wonder if we’re reading too much into it. But it happens often enough that it does seem like something unspoken with each other.

  3. i am with jackie on this, our boys have some type of garbley gook that they share, but most of it is in the non-verbal communication. at times they seem totally in sync with their actions. and there is some weird learning curve thing where they teach other their latest language acquisition.

    i am interested to hear from others and whether it comes into play later. though i would rather not have them develop one. they have enough on me already.

  4. Our ID girls are 18 months and they do have a language we can’t understand! I used to think they were just babbling at each other but one incident in particular made me rethink that. Our babysitter was playing with Olivia, just up from her nap, when she pointed at the stairs and started to babble. They went up to get Claire and when Olivia got in the room they started their very fast babble–it sounds like gremlins talking. They went back and forth and then got instantly quiet. Then they turned their heads simultaneously to look at our babysitter, turned their heads again to look at each other and laughed! We don’t know what they said, but it sure was intentional.

    Every day they greet each other with this talk. I wish I knew what they were saying! Without this experience, we might have passed it off as just nonsensical babble, but now I’m pretty sure they understand each other.

  5. Really!? We get asked this ALL THE TIME! As in, well, they may not be talking, but don’t you think they just have their own language? Nope, no they don’t. They just don’t speak. This comment has picked up in frequency recently (they are 19 months).

  6. I probably get that question more than any other. Mine do get into giggle fits where they will come up with a made up word and say it back and forth, giggling hysterically, but as far as I know, it never means anything (well, as far as I know it could mean something, like, when are we busting out of this joint?).

  7. I got asked this all the time. I found that kids that are around a lot of adults (as we were) aren’t likely to develop their own language. It is children that play pretty exclusively together (without a lot of adult supervision) that do. I also always got asked – “if I hit you will your sister feel it?” Funny. Not.

  8. I get asked this all the time, but I figured it was both because my daughters are twins AND that I’m a linguist. There have been a few cases documented of multiples creating their own words just for one another (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3434134), and I think the media publicized the phenomenon way out of proportion. My girls don’t have their own language, but they certainly talk more like each other than like other kids their age. This is in part because they’re the only kids I know who were exposed to English, Bengali and Baby Sign from infancy on.

  9. Yes, my boys had it when they were first learning to talk. They had 2 or 3 words that we had no idea what they meant but they obviously meant something to each other. One “word” was used quite frequently and they’d laugh and laugh all the time when one said it. Actually quite cute. Otherwise, they’ve created their “tilt” on certain words that aren’t quite correct (a letter or two off) and then it becomes the normal way to say that word (for both of them).

  10. We were asked that question SOOOO often when our two were little…their “twin language” was early efforted English! Think they did “communicate” (e.g. mumbles, gestures, etc…much like their parents on occasion!), but doubt in our instance it was because they were twins…not to diminish the documented cases, but I tend to think any two same-age kids in constant contact would develop a means to interact.

    I DO remember Darren calling Sarah “Hun-yah” for weeks…as close to “Sar-ah” as he could get! My fear is that they’ll develop a twin language as teens! 😉

  11. Well, for what it’s worth, my best friend and her identical twin sister did have a secret language. Her mom was telling me there would be words they would make up…like “baby balu”. When one of the girls would yell this they would start running around like crazy then throw everything out of their cribs. After mom caught on to what they were doing she would run in yelling, “No baby balu, no baby balu!!!” Sounds like fun to me :)

  12. Mine don’t have a language, but definitely one or two words that only they know the meaning of. In fact, they’re quite frustrated that we don’t know what it means!

  13. Since our babies don’t talk I don’t think they have their own language. Sometimes though Preston will babble and Lily babbles back this will go on for about 10 mins so I am assuming there is some sort of communication going on. They also do the chasing/chasee thing, so funny!!

  14. I totally understand your irritation with the questions that go along with having twins – why dont you dress them alike, do they have “twin moments”. I hate being asked if I like being a twin, I dont know, do you like being a singleton? I dont know any different!

    My least favorite conversation regarding being a twin goes as follows:

    Me: I have a twin brother, B.
    (I am woman, with the short feminine frame and long hair to prove it, so it is not as though people could mistake me for a boy, as they can with babies or toddlers)

    Person: Oh that is so cool! Are you guys identical??

    Me: Well, he is a boy and I am a girl.

    Person: Blank stare

    Me: In order to be identical, you must have identical genes. Boys have XX, girls have XY

    Person: blank stare

  15. My boys have a few shared “nonsense” words that clearly aren’t nonsense to them, but I wouldn’t call it a whole language.

    And some of their earliest words were shared non-words, like Nay-Nay to refer to one another. They both said it to refer to the other…very strange!

  16. I waited with eager anticipation to hear my girls’ “secret language” and I am still waiting. They just turned two and they talk ALL THE TIME. In fact, they don’t shut up. They fall asleep talking and they wake up talking. Maddie (aka Baby B) feels like she is required to narrate her every observation and action and thought throughout the day. It’s really quite adorable. They started very early and are currently regularly using upwards of 7 word sentences. It’s insane-they are suddenly little PEOPLE. They do seem to have a special non-verbal connection of sorts. They play very well together – like they have every movement pre-planned. Oh…and people ask me about the secret language all the time! I don’t find it as annoying as most of the other stock twin questions though.

  17. I would be interested to see if the twins that used twin language were identicals or fraternals. I’m don’t think that it matters, but it would be neat to see.

    My girls are identical, they will be turning 10 in Dec. and they definitely spoke “twin language” to each other for nearly three years, and into Kindergarten. They had speech delays and used their twin language with each other to “speak”. I wish I had recorded it, but I was just so overloaded with babies and children back then that I didn’t think to. I really wish I had, it was so neat. The babies came out of the delivery room (the OR) humming to each other in the bassinets. I asked that they be put in the same bassinet together, they kept humming. I don’t remember exactly when it started, but the first one to talk started talking what sounded like “gibberish” and then the second one to talk started responding back and they’d go do something, as if that meant something. Or they’d laugh. That’s when we knew they were talking in twin language. They did it all through their toddler years and then on up into Kindergarten. They’d switch back between English and Twin Talk.

    I’ll post this on my blog. Sorry for the long response.

  18. I get asked that a lot too. We had some nonsense words that both used to use (nana for water, for example) but not a real language. They definitely have inside jokes that I just don’t get – saying “me-me!” and shaking their heads and laughing. And insisting that they are someone else. But not a real language.

  19. Yup, my boys have a language. I believe this is why their english skills have been a bit delayed. They seem to have been working hard at figuring out a few key phrases that they both use (I’m picking up on some of them and have even started to use them back in the same context that I think they should be said… they think this is hellarious!). Then again, their Au Pair is from Brazil, and I still have not figured out how to say much in Portuguese, so maybe they are just speaking a whole-nother language all together!
    Dana

  20. I have a friend who has a fraternal twin brother and he has told me stories of a connection they share. One time my friend banged his head falling down on some concrete at a friends house and at home his twin suddenly cried out in pain clutching his head. Also the first time my friend got drunk his twin started stumbling around the house and had a hangover the next morning.

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