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What are Twins? What it's Like to Grow Up Twins

Updated on January 1, 2013
"Twin girls."  This is my sister and I (I'm on the left)
"Twin girls." This is my sister and I (I'm on the left) | Source

Growing up Twins

My sister and I used to be inseparable from the time we were born through most of our college years, as we both attended the same university. We've always shared the same of everything, except when, as we grew older, our interests began to become more distinct and our paths diverged as we entered the "real world." For example, even though we went to the same school, I was an English Literature major while she decided to go for nursing.

We may look alike, but we are actually fraternal (also known as dizygotic) twins. This means that, unlike identical (monozygotic) twins, my sister and I came from two different eggs, fertilized by two separate sperm. We may share that same crinkle in our eye as we smile, sometimes laugh in sync, and even have our own language but we are definitely not alike. Growing up twins didn't mean I grew up with a clone, it meant that I was lucky to have someone to grow up alongside me every step of the way and that I have a special bond with someone that not everyone else can say they have.

Good Morning America Talks About Twin Language

Tips For Parents With Twins

For the most part, twins catch up with the communication skills of single born babies once they get to school. However, problems with speech, reading, and/or spelling may be more lasting. There are a few ways for parents to help prevent that from happening by working at developing those communication skills early on. Here are three important things parents can do:

  1. Talk to your children. This can include reading to them, asking them questions, and motivating them to express themselves by not responding to grunts and other noises as communication.
  2. Let them socialize. Exposing twins to children of the same age group instead of remaining exclusive is a huge help toward expanding their language skills.
  3. Motivate them to speak. Don't interrupt them while they speak if they make an error. Instead, correct them afterwards. Also, don't let one twin dominate the conversation. Make sure both are allowed the same amount of time to talk so they both can develop successful skills together.

Psychology of Twins: Twin Language

My parents have footage of my sister and I before we could even speak properly communicating with each other with gibberish, or what I like to call "twin speak." Every morning, my mom said that she or my dad would come into our bedrooms to wake us, only to hear us talking to each other from our cribs from across the room before she/he even opened the door.

In later years, once my sister and I became fluent in English, we still used our own language. About 95% of the time, neither of us notices when we lapse into it until we start getting funny looks and questions from friends as to what we're talking about. To us, we sound normal, to others, I'm told it sounds like mumbling and gibberish. There are times we almost seem telepathic, as I can look at her and she knows exactly what I'm talking about without me uttering a single syllable.

Twin language is a fascinating topic when it comes to the psychology of twins. Sam and Ren McEntree, in the video to the right, are clear examples of twin language. Sometimes referred to as idioglossia, twin speech, or twin talk, twin languages are idiosyncratic, which means that they are unique to each particular group that speaks it. My sister and my language, for example, would not be understood by any other twins we would come across, just like neither of us would understand their language.

One surprising fact I learned when researching twin language is that it really isn't all that common for twins. It is believed that this language only develops as one twin mimics the other's attempt at language unsuccessfully. Any baby born without a twin babbles. Twin babies do too, of course, except their development isn't occurring alone. Unlike babies without a twin sibling, a twin baby has a partner to work with and copy. Unfortunately, what is mimicked isn't always the best use of language.

Only forty percent of twins, usually identical ones, come up with a language of their own that they keep forever. This includes nicknames, gestures, and terms that only they, or sometimes members of close family, recognize and understand. This language isn't usually shared with others.

Unlike those born without a twin, twin babies are forced to learn from each other more often than not, due to the exhaustion they cause from being two instead of one to care for. Therefore, it is highly common for multiples to develop communication skills later than singles. This is also what causes twins to talk faster, even skipping consonants or abbreviating words as they talk, which is most likely due to the twin's competitiveness in attaining their parent's attention.

My sister and I in highschool (this time I'm on the right)
My sister and I in highschool (this time I'm on the right) | Source

Likelihood of Having Twins

Even though getting pregnant becomes more difficult as we age, women are more likely to have twins around their 30s and 40s. This is because at around 25 our ovulatory cycles become irregular and we may ovulate two follicles at once instead of just one. My mother was 35 when she had my sister and I.

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Twin Pregnancy

Some kids were expected while others were a bit of an accident. I, on the other hand, was a complete surprise. My parents knew they were having a girl but, one day while my mother was getting her ultrasound, my hand waved across and suddenly they discovered there were two. How can a baby hide like that? Well, my sister's and my heart were both synchronized and she took center stage at the front of my mother's belly. It's no surprise to know that she's still the one getting all the attention as she uses her more aggressive and outgoing traits to try to protect my shy self from whatever might get in our way.

There are a few important things to take note of when it comes to twin pregnancy. Here are important facts to keep in mind if you are pregnant with twins:

  1. Women pregnant with twins need extra folic acid to decrease risk of birth defects (according to, they need one milligram per day, as opposed to 0.4 for singleton pregnancies).
  2. Twin pregnancies need more monitoring than single ones, so expect more visits to the doctor.
  3. Morning sickness may be worse because the hormone that causes it (human chorionic gonadotropin) are at higher levels for twin pregnancies than for singleton ones.
  4. Spotting may be more common.
  5. Women with twins are more likely to gain more weight during pregnancy than they would with just one bun in the oven.
  6. The likelihood of developing gestational diabetes is higher.
  7. The likelihood of preeclampsia is higher.
  8. Labor may come early.
  9. Cesarean sections are more common with twin births.

© 2012 Lisa


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    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 

      4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Passing this link along to my grown twins. Thanks.

    • BOGOBabies profile image


      6 years ago from Florida

      Nice hub. I hadn't thought about how the twin language phenomenon might cause my girls to develop speech problems--I am going to work harder to talk to them so they hear real words. (It's always so fun to watch them chat with each other though.)

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I enjoyed reading this. My twin boys are fraternal and I was able to relate to most of your hub.

    • LisaKoski profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from WA

      Thanks for reading, dmhenderson. If you're referring to the rise in births of multiples since around the 1980s, my guess would be that it has to do with fertility drugs becoming more used and available but I really don't know.

    • LisaKoski profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from WA

      Thank you ishwaryaa22 and shalini sharan for stopping by. Suzettenaples, I always appreciate your encouraging comments. I think your the one person here that's probably read everything I've posted so thank you very much for your support and kind words.

    • dmhenderson profile image

      Dave Henderson 

      7 years ago from Missouri, USA

      Very interesting reading! I'll wager there's a lot more you could tell us about the "twin" phenomenon.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      7 years ago from Taos, NM

      Lisa: What a delightful and interesting article on twins. You are fortunate, in my opinion, to be a twin. I have always heard that twins have a special bond and language of their own. Now I know that is true. For fraternal twins, you and your sister are nearly identical, but I can tell and see the differences. That is interesting that your sister is outgoing and you are more shy. We tend to think twins are the same all around. Thanks for an interesting and enlightening article. Voted up!

      Also, I just have to say you are one of our best writters here on hub pages. Your articles are always so interesting and engaging as others have said, also.

    • shalini sharan profile image

      shalini sharan 

      7 years ago from Delhi

      really useful tips on how to raise twins, i am impressed

      voted up

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      An interesting insight into twins with you and your twin sister being an ideal example in this regard. Your engaging hub is filled with interesting information about twins' communication and twin pregnancy. Well-done!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Interesting. Voted up & Socially Shared.

    • LisaKoski profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from WA

      Thanks mom :)

    • profile image

      Lydia Koski 

      7 years ago

      I'M the mother of these twins and I'm proud to say what a beautiful way to write about twins and their experience. Awesome reading.


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