Baby Talk: A Critical Analysis
Rajabi, P., & Marzoughi, S. (2018)
In all speech communities there are probably special ways of talking to young children who differ more or less systematically from the more normal form of the language used in ordinary conversation among adults. Baby talk refers specifically to a speech register, optionally used by caregivers to infants and young children, and is marked by slow rate, exaggerated intonation, high fundamental frequency, many repetitions, simple syntax, and a simple, concrete vocabulary. Conversations with babies serve to introduce new words in many conceptual domains. The here-and-now nature of many conversations with young children helps guarantee joint attention along with physical and linguistic co-presence. It also helps adults interpret what young children are likely to be saying. This allows children to make maximum use of contextual cues in assigning an interpretation of unfamiliar words and constructions. The fact that some form of baby talk is universal in all cultures strongly suggest that it can influence language acquisition, or may in fact, facilitate it. The current study takes a critical stance towards this issue in language acquisition.