Saturday, July 18, 2009


multiplangual: a word I've invented to describe the language that multiples develop amongst themselves.
Before the twins could talk I read about and heard stories of languages developed by multiples that no one else could understand. One in particular was of a set of twins that did not learn English until after they were five years old. Until that point, all they spoke was their twin language, and because their mother understood it, they didn't learn anything else. I was determined that my boys would learn English before 5 - but that didn't stop them from making their own. At 2 years old they would carry on full conversations with each other and I had no clue what about. Very little of what they said made sense to me, and I continued to reinforce English words. At one point I started to understand a small amount of what they were saying. I would catch key words for things like milk and hungry. I never repeated what they said, instead I would say the actual word. This worked well and eventually they learned to speak correctly, except for one word. "Gohn"

gohn: means 1. brother 2. Nathaniel 3. Tyler
I know it sounds a little odd, but Nathaniel couldn't say his own name or Tyler's and so he called Tyler "Gohn." Tyler would not say his own name or Nathaniel's, and he called Nathaniel "Gohn." This went on for years. Everyone in our family understood when Tyler said, "Where's Gohn," he meant, "Where's Nathaniel." If Nathaniel said "Gohn potty," that did not mean that he'd gone potty, it meant "Tyler potty."

I believe the boys were four years old before they grew out of it. If you ask them about Gohn now, they think you are nuts. They have no memory of calling each other Gohn, it was just what they did. Lately we have been reminded of Gohn as Bradley learns to talk. Nathaniel is a pretty hard name to say, so it was no shock when Bradley said "Tyler" first. As he develops his language skills he continues to call both twins Tyler. He knows who Nathaniel is and who Tyler is, but he calls them both Tyler. Even stranger, he calls himself Tyler. Put him in front of a recent picture of all three of them and point to Tyler and ask "Who's that?" Bradley will answer "Tyler." Point to Bradley and ask the same question, you will get the same answer, the same goes for pointing at Nathaniel. I don't understand this concept, but they do. And I guess that's all that matters.

As my mother once said, "I don't care what they call me, so long as they call me.''

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