Monday, June 2, 2008

The reality of twinese

Mmmmwa. Mmmmwa.
Mmmmwa a familiar sound in our house.
We hear it whenever Matthew runs out of Baby Goldfish, raisins, tortellini, bananas or whatever his favorite food of the day might be. He looks up at us with all the confidence in the world and says, "Mmmmwa," his word for "more." And it works. Matthew relishes its results as his request is fulfilled.
Until recently, Jonathan remain quiet.
As we praised Matthew and piled more food onto his tray, Jonathan would simply sit and say nothing. Again and again, I would ask him, "More, Jonny? Do you want more?" And he would just stare at me, eventually crying in frustration until I gave in.
But everything changed just the other day.
It was lunch time. Jonathan's tray was empty of green beans, a favorite food of both twins, when I heard that familiar sound coming from his direction.
I saw Jonathan's mouth move, but I found myself staring at Matthew. Jonathan said it in exactly the same way and in, of course, the same voice. I was stunned. I didn't know what to make of his precise imitation of Matthew's grossly mispronounced word.
A few Internet searches later and I had my answer.
This is the beginning of what some people call twinese.
I had always believed that twinese was a secret language, a code developed among twins that was independent of our language and that only they could understand.
I was wrong.
Twinese, scientifically known as idioglossia or cryptophasia, is exactly what I had just witnessed. It occurs when one twin imitates the other in his mispronunciation of words.
When they say the words wrong, they understand each other even if no one else does. If the mispronunciations are not corrected, twins eventually fall into the habit of using the wrong sounds regularly and, what might have seemed cute in the beginning, becomes a problem. They grow older; they start school; and no one else can understand them.
Fortunately, it sounds like we have little to be concerned about.
Though twinese is fairly common in the toddler years, studies show that serious cases generally develop when twins are frequently left on their own by parents who are detached from their language development. In most cases, twinese disappears on its own by the preschool years.
It won't become serious for us for a simple reason: because I am an annoying mom.
Restating the misspoken word correctly is a habit of mine that grew from teaching my first two children to enunciate. Each time the boys ask for more, I drive them crazy. "More? You want more? Okay, you can have more. Here's more."
More. More. More. More. More.
Twinese wouldn't be much fun for my guys.


jay_say said...

I completely understand... the boys favorite was "Uckie Dookie Pile" - which simply stated was dirt pile. It annoyed my mother something fierce, but I encouraged their creativity. Today, they don't use any of their twinese language - they will be five in September.

Java with the Johnsons said...

Hello...I'm new to the world of identical twin boys...we knew we were having identical twins...but didn't know that they were boys until yesterday... i'm very interested to start reading your blog... just wondering if you used a way to tell them a part in the beginning...bracelets or whatever...we have several friends with identical girls...and they used nail polish and earring to tell them apart... what do you do with boys... help...

Twinsmom said...

Congratulations Brooke! All twins are a blast, but identical twins are a different kind of fun. I hope your pregnancy is going well and that you are able to make it full-term. We were not prepaped for identical twins, so we used the hospital wrist bands for the first week. But those seemed so uncomfortable on their tiny little, fat-free bodies. So we started using blue nail polish on Jonathan's toes. It wears off slowly and, even if you forget to touch it up, you can usually find a little residue. By about four months, they each developed a different vein across their noses (one narrow, one thick). We know that will fade someday, but that's how we identify them now. Their personalities are also different. It's hard in the beginning, but you will find that something will surface as they grow that will differentiate them just a little. I would not use anything that can easily be removed like bracelets or different colored clothing. It's too easy to accidentally mix those up. Our pediatrician had also recommended putting a dot on one baby's foot with a sharpie. Congrats again and thanks for reading!