The Secret Language of Tennis Champions
February 16, 2015 3:28 AM   Subscribe

Hang on, what makes these guys' code words different from the in-joke code words that spring up among friends? For years I instinctively used the word "bronze" to stand in for "that's too much information", just because it had been an in-joke among a tight-knit group - and none of us were twins.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:56 AM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hang on, what makes these guys' code words different from the in-joke code words that spring up among friends?

I think this is always one of the questions about twin-language. It seemed to me reading the article that being twins meant that they'd had more time and contact to develop that shorthand language than other doubles partners might, and it seemed a bit of a stretch to connect their current large complement of shorthand terms to the private languages of twins who are developing language as young children. I was interested in this but wanted a more in-depth article that did a better job exploring the issue.
posted by not that girl at 6:16 AM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

There's an interesting thread in both their childhood and adult experiences: how do past learning experiences dictate future actions?

It manifested itself clearly in their childhood, in the development of their own private language. One brother makes a sound in a particular situation, the other repeats it shortly thereafter, and a new word is born.

The article touched on how it manifested itself in their tennis career: each brother always seems to know what move the other one will make next. When they get into a particular situation on the court, they probably both independently draw from their bank of past experiences with the same situation: what shot tends to work well, and what shot tends to fail miserably? How much of a risk-taking mood are they in today? (What is their level of confidence in being able to pull off a low-percentage shot?)

Gaining a lot of experience and practice is how any tennis player develops into a dominant figure in the game. You could call it their "tennis sense." Because the Bryan brothers shared in the vast majority of their learning experiences, perhaps they developed identical "tennis sense."

I think the article missed its own main point: the Bryan Bros' new shared language is tennis itself.
posted by mantecol at 7:31 AM on February 16, 2015

Your Empress:

I guess it's a question of degree. If you have a group of friends that's very intensely close-knit and has an extensive vocabulary of code words, I suppose we could compare it to the experience of identical twins. But not really.

I have a good friend with identical twins, and it's a very distinctive experience being around them. (They're 4.) They don't just have the private language; they sort of make one coordinated verbal expression that goes back and forth. They don't behave identically but complimentarily, still with the impression of being one.

I suppose there are parallels in close friendships but I can't imagine they approach the kind of synchrony that many twins feel.
posted by argybarg at 7:48 AM on February 16, 2015

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