Idioglossia Random House Dictionary ) Thesis

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Random House Dictionary (2009) defines idioglossia as a private form of speech invented by one child or by children who are in close contact, as twins. Its second definition describes it as a pathological condition characterized by speech so distorted as to be unintelligible. This form of speech may also be referred to as autonomous languages, cryptophasia, or twin language.

Twins are very capable of inventing speech of their own, not understandable to others. This is the lingo or language described above as autonomous languages, cryptophasia or idioglossia. Despite current belief, this "phenomenon" is not rare. Independent languages are present in about 40% of all twins, but often disappear quickly. The typical circumstances are where two or more close siblings -- they don't have to be twins -- grow up closely together during the time when they are learning to talk.

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If an adult is not present frequently to present a model of language, the children use each other and obtain the language incorrectly. The language may stay at that level. If some form of correct language is completely absent, the children may not develop the twin language. In every case known, the lingo consists of expressions that sound like the action taking place, made-up words, but for the greatest part, of words from adult language implemented through the inhibited phonetics possibilities of young children. These words are barely identifiable; the language may be incomprehensible to those modeling language, but they resemble each other in that they lack structure and that the order of the words is based on practical principles such as how they stand out and the meaning of the words (Bakker).

The very idea that twins do develop made-up languages that only they can comprehend has been a thing of fascination for decades for scientists and parents. Many times the twins are not speaking a new language. It's possible it could just be delayed or poor speech development in one or both of the siblings.

Thesis on Idioglossia Random House Dictionary (2009) Defines Idioglossia Assignment

For instance: Charlie has a hard time making certain sounds. Twin Carl can articulate those sounds, but instead he mimics the way Charlie speaks. They keep talking this way for some period of time, and understand what each other is saying. But, of course, it sounds like gobbledygook to a parent or other sibling.

But how does this happen? Deferred speech is usually, though not always, related to low birth weight and premature births. Almost 60% of twins are born premature. And the length of pregnancy decreases with each additional baby. A normal single-birth pregnancy lasts 39 weeks. For twins that number goes down to 36 weeks.

As we have mentioned, another factor might be restricted "talk time" with parents combined with twins' ability to communicate non-verbally. Sometimes twins have more one-on-one communication time with each other, rather than with a parent or guardian. So, it seems reasonable that they would continue to foster close communication with each other - even if it entails using incoherent modifications of real speech (Neer).

One Mom's Story

"They are speaking. Really, really speaking and, wow, is it cool. It all started just after their second birthday, the day I picked up the phone to make the appointment with a speech therapist. I got distracted and planned to call again later. Suddenly, I heard "Bye, bye, truck." And it just poured out from there.

Three months ago, Matthew and Jonathan would not string two words together. The single words they used were mostly one-syllable words and they often would leave off the ending sounds. I tried not to worry.

Many online friends with identical boys of similar ages were experiencing the same delays.

The county folks who had evaluated Matthew and Jonathan said they communicated in all other ways, and that they had simply fallen into the habits of twinese or twin language. They entertained each other and had no desire to please adults with their speaking abilities. The county team suggested sign language, but assured me that Matthew and Jonathan would eventually come around.

Our pediatrician recommended a few therapy sessions anyway just to encourage them to speak and to help ease the frustrations that bring about so many tantrums when children grow intellectually, but are still not able to communicate their needs and desires. This was the appointment I was trying to make that day in January. Now my concerns seem silly.

I was in the kitchen this morning when I heard, "Ready, set, go!" from foyer. Then around the corner came Matthew in the lead with the smaller toy shopping cart. Jonathan was at his heels, with the larger one, laughing like crazy.

When I told them they needed to get dressed, Jonathan said, "Shirt? Pants?" And went right for the dresser. He picked up a blue shirt with a ball and net on front and said, "basketball? Shirt on?" clear as day. The boys can count to ten. They know their colors. They know the alphabet and most of the letter sounds. They say, "One, two, three. Green!" when we stop at a red light.

This morning, as we headed out the door for a three-hour visit to the sitter, Matthew said, "Cole's house?" And that was exactly where we were headed. To the home of our three-year-old neighbor Cole and his nanny, who cares for Matthew and Jonathan two mornings a week. I answered him and the three of us -- Matthew, Jonathan and I -- had a little conversation about Cole and his little sister and their toy dinosaurs. We actually had a conversation. It was so cool" (TwinsMom).

Can Anything Help?

Reading as often as possible to twins, or any siblings, can play a very significant role in their development of speech. Talking about what you're doing may help children associate your actions with what you are saying at the time. "Baby talk" should not be used at all for obvious reasons. When your child says a word incorrectly, try saying it the correct way while pronouncing each syllable slowly.

Try to have your twins use real words rather than motions or baby talk to tell you something. If they gesture or make a noise wanting more juice, try asking, "Do you want more juice?" Play- time becomes a chance to assist with speech by clearly and slowly identifying each toy, or shape. Finally, if you or your spouse have apprehension regarding your twins' language progress, talk to your pediatrician for guidance.

It is notable and curious that in the early part of the century, idioglossia was associated with mental disability, slowness, or even insanity, and not necessarily with twins.

Goodhart and Still (1905) relate the following in their book The Diseases of Children about the "intelligent" child whose family may often has a "history of insanity."

"Idioglossia is a curious and rare speech defect which consists really in an extreme degree of stammering. The child substitutes altogether different sounds for many consonants and vowels, so that speech is absolutely unintelligible, and the child appears to speak a language of its own.

The speech is fluent, and the child may be quite intelligent; it may learn to read in its own way, and may write fairly well; moreover, it understands normal speech. One child about seven years old spoke thus, for " Father, come and play with me," he would say, 'Barpa, narm arn bi mi moo.' He could recite hymns fluently, but not a single word was intelligible to us; indeed it was difficult to imagine that he was talking English. The condition exists from the earliest acquirement of speech, and it is noteworthy that in several of the recorded cases there has been a family history of insanity. Some improvement has resulted from patient and careful education."

(Goodhart and Still)


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