What Is Cryptophasia, A Secret Language?

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Every person speaks their native language at home. It is the language that they learn as a child by listening to their parents. But as they grow up, their vocabulary becomes extensive. They learn words and phrases from schools that no one speaks at home.Also they pick up speech mannerisms from their peers. What about inside jokes with their friends that other people cannot understand. Having inside jokes and phrases with your friends make you feel like you belong to an exclusive group. It helps you communicate with your friends without having to worry that others will understand you.

Humans have always had secret codes and languages to help them communicate with others. There are codes that are used by military personnel to communicate with each other. There are also code words created by siblings so they can communicate without their parents knowing what they are talking about. One such unique secret language is cryptophasia that is developed by twins and cannot be understood by others.

twins secret language

What is Cryptophasia, a Secret Language?

Idioglossia is a language that is created and spoken by only one person. However, it is often confused with Cryptophasia, which is a twin language. The two are different because Idioglossia does not include the mirrored actions of twins. Cryptophasia is most commonly referred to as twin speech or twin talk. It is not limited to the spoken language of the twins but also their identical mannerisms and similar walk. The twin language can be developed by both identical and fraternal twins. It is developed at an early age. The majority of the words in the language are taken from an adult language and changed in a way to accommodate the limited phonological abilities of young children.


This private language is used by the twins to communicate with each other. It has not only words and phrases but also expressions that would only make sense to the speakers. Many factors can influence the development of a private language. In most cases, a delay in the phonological development of the twins leads them to create a language free of grammar rules. They don’t have to follow the grammar rules of their mother tongue in order to communicate with each other.

Popular examples of twin languages are the ones created by June and Jennifer Gibbons and Grace and Virginia Kennedy. June and Jennifer Gibbons were twin sisters from Wales that only communicated with each other using their private language. They also mirrored each other’s actions in their daily lives. They were bullied in school, which forced the twin girls to give up on society. It wasn’t until the death of Jennifer that June began to communicate with people.

Identical Twins

Grace and Virginia Kennedy were American identical twins that developed a language of their own. They continued to use the language until they were right. The invented language had an extremely fast tempo and a staccato rhythm. After getting speech therapy, the girls transferred these traits to spoken English. A linguistic analysis of the invented language showed that it was a mixture of English and German. The parents of the girls spoke English, but their maternal grandmother spoke German. As the twins spent most of their childhood with their grandmother, they picked up German verbs and nouns.

Why Twins Develop Their Own Languages?

Twins are known to share a deep physical and emotional connection. Some of them claim to feel the pain of the other. But whether there is evidence to support the claims of twins or not, no one can deny the connection between them. In some cases, the connection is so strong that the twins only want to communicate with each other. There are many reasons why a child would feel the need to invent a language.

Here are the main factors that influence the development of a private vernacular:

  • If a child feels closer to their sibling than the rest of their family, they will come up with a way to communicate with them only. As long as they are understood by their sibling, they won’t have to make an effort to learn the language of the adults. Although most of the time, twins develop such a language, it is also common for other siblings to only communicate with each other using code words.
  • If children experience parental neglect, that will affect their language development process. But if they cannot learn the mother tongue, they will make up one on their own. They may have trouble understanding the rules of the adult language as it is not spoken in front of them much, but if they create their own vernacular, they won’t have to worry about syntax and grammar.
  • If parents are not patient with their children and mock them for all of their language mistakes and mispronunciations, it might force the children to become reserved. In such a situation, children think of the world as their enemy and prefer confiding in their siblings.
  • There are games that children can play if they have a secret way of communicating with each other. If the parents are strict, they may not let children play games all the time. But with a secret communication method, children can easily have fun.
  • The strange language can also help toddlers and infants cope with a traumatic event. If the kids have been abused by their parents or were orphaned at a young age, the private lingo can be their way of coping with it. They can communicate with each other and ignore the world that has hurt them.
twin speak
twin language

The Downside to Cryptophasia:

Having a functional language to communicate with your twin is great. But if the twins continue to use the secret tongue instead of focusing on the human language spoken by their parents, it can harm their social and personal lives. It will also negatively impact their psychological health. Above all, the linguistic development of the twins will come to a halt. They will not think of the phonological possibilities they should try to conquer. They will not learn to share their thoughts with the outside world. The speakers of a secret tongue might not even talk to the rest of their family members. Such behavior can be very harmful in the latter life of the twins.

It is okay for twins to use a secret method of communication in their infancy. But if they refuse to learn the tongues spoken around them, they will not be able to survive. Children have to communicate with others in kindergarten to learn socialization skills. If they want to study, they will have to learn the language of their parents. Cryptophasic twins might need a long time to achieve fluency in the language of their parents, but it is not impossible. With the right help, they can learn everything from a new language to slang words.

Examples from history prove that Cryptophasic twins can lead normal lives if the intervention comes at the right time. The responsibility falls on the shoulders of the parents of such twins. They should be taught the importance of society. By teaching them the importance of communication, parents can get their children out of their bubble. Once twins learn to adapt to the world around them, they will be able to live healthy and happy lives.

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