“Baby talk” is the same in all languages! Adults who speak to young children use lively, high-pitched, slow-paced speech – no matter where in the world they come from
- Baby talk is a style of speech used by adults when talking to a baby
- Researchers set out to see how babies’ speech varies across languages
- They analyzed 88 previous studies of baby language in 36 languages
- They found similarities in pitch, melody and articulation rates
We’ve all been there – you meet an adorable baby and immediately find yourself using an exaggerated, high-pitched, singsong voice.
Now, a study has found that this “baby talk” is the same in all languages, with people around the world transforming their voices when talking to babies.
Researchers from the University of York and the University of Aarhus studied infant speech in 36 languages and found similarities in pitch, melody and articulation rates.
Christopher Cox, who led the study, said: “We use a higher pitch, more melodic sentences and a slower rate of articulation when talking to infants compared to how we talk to adults, and it seems to be the same in most languages.”
We’ve all been there – you meet an adorable baby and immediately find yourself using an exaggerated, high-pitched singing voice
Researchers from the University of York and the University of Aarhus studied infant speech in 36 languages and found similarities in pitch, melody and articulation rates
WHAT IS BABY TALK?
Baby talk is a style of speech employed by adults when talking to an infant.
It is characterized by a higher and wider pitch, slower speech rate, and a “sing a song” intonation pattern.
Talking babies also exaggerate facial expressions – they open their mouths wider, raise their eyebrows and smile a lot.
Scientists claim that chatting with babies under the age of one helps them make friends and makes them brighter as they are better able to experience the world around them.
Baby speech, or infant-directed speech (IDS), refers to the way we talk to young children.
Typically, it includes lively, high-pitched, slow-paced speech.
While baby talk has been studied for years, in the new study, researchers set out to understand if it has a universal quality.
The team analyzed 88 previous studies on the properties of baby talk in 36 languages.
The results revealed that pitch, melody and articulation rates were the same in most languages.
However, they found that there was a marked difference in the extent to which caregivers exaggerated differences between vowel sounds.
“In English, caregivers typically exaggerate vowel difference in infant-directed speech, but this seems to vary across languages,” Cox explained.
“More work is needed to understand why this is, but we might expect, for example, that speakers of languages with lots of vowels would be more likely to clarify this vocal signal for their children.”
The study also found that babies’ language changes over time as infants become more fluent in language and speech.
The tone and speed of delivery gradually become more similar to adult speaking style, according to the researchers.
However, high-pitched melodic sounds and exaggerated vowels continue into early life.
Dr Riccardo Fusaroli, co-author of the Aarhus University study, said: “These results really highlight the interactive nature of this style of speech, with carers providing dynamic and responsive feedback to the vocalizations of their children and responding to the changing developmental needs of infants.”
Professor Tamar Keren-Portnoy, co-author of the University of York study, concluded: ‘We have shown how similar infant speech is across different societies, but at the same time our results also show an impressive degree of variability between cultures. in how some of the different properties are expressed.
WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF BABY BABBLE?
Scientists claim that talking to babies gives them benefits in life far beyond a broader vocabulary.
They say chatting with babies under the age of one helps them make friends, as well as making them brighter as they are better able to experience the world around them.
There is some debate about its importance and also whether adults should use their normal voice.
Slower talking, using a singsong voice and using strange words are commonplace when talking to toddlers, but previous research has shown that it can be detrimental to a child.
Conflicting research says the high-pitched voice used to talk to a baby is essential.
Many believe that “baby talk” helps develop early speech and language skills.
These are associated with success in developing reading, writing, and interpersonal skills, both later in childhood and later in life.
Long before they can speak clearly, babies understand the general meaning of what you are saying.
This bond is important in their development and happiness.
Other tips include:
- Have back-and-forth conversations in baby talk
- Imitate baby vocalizations such as “ba-ba” or “goo-goo”
- Reinforce communication by smiling and mirroring facial expressions.
- Imitate baby’s gestures because body language is important for his communication
- Smile at the baby often, especially when the child talks baby
- Watch the baby while the tot makes noises