Show Details

Twin Language

June 19, 2007

A listener asks: Do twins have their own secret languages?

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Do twins create private languages? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Twins often share a strong bond, but listener Tony Skura of Nome, Alaska, emailed us to ask if they ever share a secret language. Professor Michael Rutter of the Institute of Psychiatry in London has looked into this phenomenon, which has been widely reported. He found that on close inspection, only 6 percent of the twins he studied used a separate language that they alone could understand.

MICHAEL RUTTER (Institute of Psychiatry, London):
Most of the apparent secret language is probably just a normal developmental phenomenon. That’s to say when children are just learning to speak, it’s common for the brothers and sisters to understand better than the parents do.

HIRSHON:
And this may be especially pronounced in families with twins, since twins are the same age and develop language in parallel. If you’ve got a science question, call us at 1-800-WHYISIT. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.