Monday, March 15, 2010

"Parentese", Baby Talk

This is a short broadcast that discusses the benefits of “baby talk,” or what is known as “parentese,” a high-pitched, song-like way of speaking. It is believed that when an adult talks “parentese” to a child, the child is more likely to pay attention and distinguish words, thus learning language more rapidly. A child is less likely to pay attention to an adult that is speaking in a regular voice because it is monotone and harder to distinguish individual words. 

To test this belief, researcher Eric Theson from Carnegie Melon, conducted an experiment in which 75 children, ages 7 to 8 months, sat on their mothers’ laps in front of a set of speakers. Half of the children listened to the audio in a regular, monotone adult voice, while the other half heard it in “parentese.” What the study showed was that children understood words more clearly in the “parentese” version of the audio. The significance of this is that it turns out that “baby talk” is not just a cutesy form of talking to your child. It helps babies understand language better and faster.

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