Kids and made-up languages

Any Dopers out there who made up their own languages or whose kids made up their own languages? Can you tell me about it? And when did it start, peak and/or stop?

My son is 6 and, though he’s had his own language for a couple of years, lately his language (he calls it “Bonish”) has started getting more complex. I don’t see this as an issue - his behavior is fine (if anything, it’s improved); he’s where he should be academically and socially; and he’s under less stress now than he is during the school year; and he automatically translates to English whenever he speaks his language - he just started speaking in this second language more often lately.

Anyway, I’m not really concerned, but hadn’t been able to find any good resources online for school-aged kids who have their own language - it’s all about learning to read, write and tell stories at this age. I’m more curious than anything else because I don’t recall having done this when I was younger.

Any recommendations? Stories? Should I be concerned about this if he’s acting normally otherwise?

Just popped in to say the thread title/username combo made me chuckle. :slight_smile:

Hah! Good point. Did I mention my son also talks a LOT? I wonder where he got it?

I know a little about cryptophasia (where ‘languages’ are created by twins), but I believe there’s evidence that this is more to do with equally delayed phonological acquisition. This seems to be something very different.

I think the most interesting thing is that he has given the language a name. So it’s not just a case of him giving objects he’s unsure about made-up placeholder names, he’s aware that it is separate from English. That’s fascinating, and I’d love to study his language!
I’m curious though, is this purely a language made up of nouns, or does he have verbs too? If so, does it follow a similar pattern to English, or does it have its own grammar? (e.g. he will say something akin to ich komme aus England/I come from England, and not aus England ich komme/From England, I come.).
If it is just nouns, then this may simply be a case of him being linguistically creative, a bit of a game. If there are verbs involved, and he can make sentences, then this is indeed truly fascinating.

I believe I did read that it may be the case that he’s especially gifted. I wouldn’t be surprised if you find he can learn other languages quite quickly. Might be worth introducing him to some, he may be a multilingual prodigy!

He does have some verbs and, from what I can understand, his terminology is all fairly consistent. In other words, he’s not just spouting out random syllables and calling them language.

From what I can tell, his language doesn’t have an English/Germanic basis. It sounds a bit more like an East Asian language than anything else. My husband is from India, so it’s possible that’s where it’s coming from, but we only occasionally speak in languages other than English in the home because our language sets don’t intersect. Both of us are multilingual, but his dad speaks three Indian languages plus Japanese and a bit of Italian while I speak Spanish fluently, French fairly well, Italian and Portuguese.

Language might well be an area in which he could be gifted - both his dad and I are multilingual and when we were in India, my son picked up Hindi pretty well when he was 18 months old, though he remembers very little of it. I might have to look into that.

I created the basic grammar and vocabulary of a made-up language when I was about twelve, but it existed only on paper – I never tried to *speak *it!

In other words, it seems to me your son is simply interested in language, and already skilled at understanding how each language has its own structure and vocabulary. Thanks to his parents, he’s been exposed to multiple languages – but I’m guessing that, because you and your husband only have one language in common between the two of you, your son has only learned one language fluently, so far (English).

This seems to me the perfect situation in which a smart child would make up a language, partly out of curiosity – wondering what it’s like to speak a second language fluently.

My guess is, he’ll “grow out of it” soon, especially if he starts really learning a second (Earth) language deeply, but that his love of language in general will always be there – and will serve him well, professionally and/or for the sheer pleasure of it.