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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Idioglossia

My twin brother, Paul, and I were the hosts of our hometown spelling bee in Chelmsford, MA. Also known locally as "Chemzfid." It was a joy to be back in our hometown. We grew up there - from 1st grade to 12th. Old Skip's Ice cream and Lounge which crouches on Route 110, we learned tonight, was slated to be demolished to make way for a strip mall. Sigh.


ANYWAY.... the night was a grand success - raising much-needed funds for school kids in Chelmsford. (What a world it would be if public schools funded the "investment" in our future properly and saved us all from school fundraisers!)

ANYWAY..... We rattled off a bunch of words for the teams at the Bee. One of the words caught my ear. Fun to say and the meaning, as it turns out, quite ishfully resonates with me.


From Wikipedia:

"Idioglossia refers to an idiosyncratic language, one invented and spoken by only one or a very few people. Most often, idioglossia refers to the private languages of young children, especially twins. It is also known as cryptophasia, and commonly referred to as twin talk or twin speech.

Children who are exposed to multiple languages from birth are also inclined to create idioglossias, but these languages usually disappear at a relatively early age, giving way to use of one or both of the languages introduced."

Cool. Twin speech. Language-ish.

I can not help but see the parallel between the loss of "private language" and the "drying up" of "artifidence." Art confidence. The abandonment of original marks, original song and dance, original expression.

What if we allowed children to keep developing "private languages?"

Would they perhaps better understand the mysteries of the universe? Would they know a vocabulary into a better future. A future which demands delicate nuance and sensitive prose?

We have, as a society, managed to do one thing QUITE well - to trample on the originality.

I'll end for tonight with that word: Idioglossia. It is fun to say, and I like the general notion of it, but it worries me that it sounds like "idiot" as if to say that freedom of thought and expression might result in the diagnose of brain mis-function.

2 comments:

sarah said...

cool. the root actually derives from the greek "idios" which means one's own, private, personal, separate, distinct. "idiot" started as a term for an ordinary, private person with no professional skill, a worker/layman/soldier - basically an ignorant person... words are so cool!

Peter H. Reynolds said...

Idios... a nice concept - "idiot" sorta gave it a bum rap. (What does bum rap" derive from?? ) Knowing what "idios" means inspires some new words: idioretreat, idiovision, idiopop (that ne just SOUNDS nice!) Words ARE cool. Thanks for sharin'! You should call yourself "Sharah." : )