One of the latest home videos to hit the web features a pair of 17 month old twin boys from Brooklyn, New York.
They are chatting up a storm in their kitchen. What are they talking about? Who knows. But they’re pretty excited about something. (I’d be pretty excited about stainless steel appliances in my kitchen!)
I’ve always said that living with our twins is like watching a social experiment in progress. Watching two little girls who were born at the same time and spend all their time together, yet have different personalities, preferences and interests.
As a mom of twin girls, we receive many questions about their habits and characteristics. Lately we’re asked about their talking and if they have their own special language. I personally don’t think that they have a “special” language at this time, but I do feel that they talk to each other and help each other communicate their wants and needs — both verbally and non-verbally.
Cryptophasia, or “twin talk,” is not the concept of the kids speaking an entirely new or separate language, but a matter of delayed or poor speech development in one or both of the children. “Twin talk,” according to many websites, is a popular myth about multiples. But twins who develop their own language are extreme situations, and often due to poor socialization and isolation.
These twins from Brooklyn, some say, may just be mimicking each others attempts at vocalization. Young twins tend to spend most or all of their time together. So just like any two people who spend a lot of time of together (i.e. husbands and wives, domestic partners), over time, they begin to understand each others grunts, grumbles, and other verbal and non-verbal indicators. However, as twins acquire language, this tends to disappear over time, usually by the age of three.
The scientific study of “twin talk” actually has roots in San Diego in the mid-1970s. I found this video about Grace and Virginia Kennedy (aka Poto and Cabengo), who made headlines in the San Diego Union: “Twin Girls Make Up Own Language” (above the fold, no less.) The video starts out a bit slow, but at around 2:21, you’ll see film of the girls who are about age 7 or 8 at the time. And this Wiki entry, gives a great synopsis of the possible cause of the “twin talk” in Virginia and Grace. One of the factors in their case was poor socialization with their family members and with the outside world.
What do you think? Is “twin talk” a reality in your household?