When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I purchased all the books I could find on the topics of being pregnant with and raising twins. This was, after all, our first pregnancy and our first children, and I wanted to learn everything I possibly could about providing them with the tools they needed to help them thrive. One of the twin phenomena I read about in almost every book was idioglossia, also known as twin talk, which is the idea that twins develop a secret language with each other that no one else can understand.
But what causes twin talk, and why do some twins say they experience it, while others do not? Is this phenomenon a luck of the draw, or is there a real science behind it?
Twin Talk: The Secret Language of Twins
Is Twin Talk Real?
Twin talk, as cute as it is, can actually be a matter of delayed or poor speech development in either twin or both.
One child may have difficulty articulating certain sounds and words, similar to a child babbling to his reflection in a mirror, while the second child chooses to mimic the sounds the first child makes, even though he may be better at articulating words. The two continue to talk this way, understanding what the other is saying, but meanwhile, it sounds like a secret language to you and others around you.
Why Does This Happen?
There are a number of theories on why twin talk occurs. Delays in speech related to low birth weight and premature births, limited one-on-one communication time with parents, and more one-on-one communication with each other are just a few of the reasons some believe twin talk occurs.
The Secret Language at Our House
Our twins definitely had their own secret language when they were younger, and even though they are almost 6 years old, they still revert back to their secret language at times. I remember vividly how cute they were, sitting on the floor, face to face, while they babbled away about who knows what.
Was our twins' talk a matter of a speech delay? Yes, it probably was. Our twins were born 11 weeks premature, resulting in delayed speech when compared to most term children. Though they were delayed compared to standard medical charts, they were always right on track with the corrected age chart for premature children.
Since twin talk can be a matter of delayed or poor speech, it's always a good idea to talk to your pediatrician about your children's development level, to be sure additional speech therapy is not necessary.
If your pediatrician determines your twins' speech is on track for their age, then I say enjoy the twin talk. Cherish it, videotape it, and share it with your children when they grow up. This is just one of the many special twin phenomena your twins will share together as they grow up together.