Insights from the multilingual twin brothers who transformed their secret twin-speak into a constructed language.
Secret forms of communication have been around for as long as people have had secrets to keep – from the substitution ciphers used by the Romans to encrypt military intelligence to slang that can insulate a community from outsiders. But some secret codes are so esoteric that they are known by only two people and become languages unto themselves.
In the above video, Matthew and Michael Youlden warily admitted to me that they speak a “twin language” together, a secret language that only they know how to speak. “But we’re not going to talk about that, are we?” they concurred before quickly changing the subject. Ciphers, codes and slang are one thing, but a constructed language spoken by only two people on Earth piqued my curiosity and set my imagination into overdrive. What was this home-brewed, secret language? Maybe the Super Polyglot Brothers didn’t want to talk about it, but I sure did! So a colleague and I cornered Matthew last week to interrogate him on the subject (granted, it was a rather comfortable corner of an Italian restaurant in Kreuzberg, and our “interrogation” was nothing if not friendly and fuelled by genuine intrigue).
It turns out we weren’t the first people who have sought entry into the secret world of this two-person language. Matthew and Michael have had to rebuff would-be infiltrators before – like the linguist who desperately wanted to write his master’s thesis about their language. Keeping the secret remains a top priority, but Matthew agreed to answer some questions about the language while keeping its inner workings safely guarded.