Season Three, Episode Two

What’s the Word?
Children’s Secret Languages

Transcript coming soon!

In this episode, we’re talking about children’s secret languages: linguistic spaces where young people not only protect their own private thoughts from adults but also create new categories of meanings that eventually shape the language we all use. From the secret languages twins speak solely to each other, to Pig Latin and internet slang, we celebrate the innovative (if clandestine) ways young people have devised to express themselves.

reading list

Brutus, Bianca. “This forgotten language is seeing a revival thanks to TikTok.” NBC News, 17 August 2021.  

Chrisman, Oscar. “The Secret-Language of Childhood.”  Century Magazine, vol. 56, 1898, pp. 54–58.

Cohen, Elizabeth. “Parents, Do You Know What These Texts Mean?” CNN, 26 August 2010. 

Diehl, Randy L.  and Katherine F. Kolodzey. “Spaka: A Private Language.” Language, vol. 57, no. 2, June 1981, pp. 406-424. 

Fridland, Valerie. “Teen Talk and Linguistic Evolution.” Psychology Today, 1November 2020. 

McIlwain, Gloria. “Tut Language.” American Speech, vol. 69, no. 1, 1994, pp. 111–12.

Thorpe, Karen. “Twin Children’s Language Development.” Early Human Development, vol. 82, no. 6, 2006, pp. 387-395. 

Salisbury, Harrison E. The Shook-Up Generation. New York: Fawcett, 1967. 

The Children’s Table enjoys the support of: