Baby talk

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Baby talk is a type of speech associated with an older person speaking to a child. It is also called caretaker speech, infant-directed speech (IDS), child-directed speech (CDS) or motherese.[1][2][3][4][5]

Infant-directed speech (IDS) is characterized by a "sing song" pattern of intonation that differentiates it from the more monotone style used with other adults e.g., IDS has higher and wider pitch, slower speech rate and shorter utterances.[6] It can display vowel hyperarticulation (an increase in distance in the formant space of the peripheral vowels e.g., [i], [u], and [a])[7] and words tend to be shortened and simplified. There is evidence that the exaggerated pitch modifications are similar to the affectionate speech style employed when people speak to their pets (pet-directed speech).[8] However, the hyperarticulation of vowels appears to be related to the propensity for the infant to learn language, as it is not exaggerated in speech to infants with hearing loss or to pets.[9][10][11]


  • The first documented use of the word baby-talk, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, was in 1836.
  • Motherese and parentese are more precise terms than baby talk, and perhaps more amenable to computer searches, but are not the terms of choice among child development professionals[citation needed]. Critics of gender stereotyping also prefer it to the term motherese, because all caregivers, not only female parents, use distinct speech patterns and vocabulary when talking to young children[citation needed]. Motherese can also refer to English spoken in a higher, gentler manner, which is otherwise correct English, as opposed to the non-standard, shortened word forms.[12]
  • Child-directed speech (CDS) is the term preferred by researchers, psychologists and child development professionals.[13]
  • Infant-directed speech (IDS) is also used. The terms are interchangeable.
  • Caregiver language is sometimes used.


CDS is a clear and simplified strategy for communicating to younger children, used not only by adults but also by older children[citation needed]. The vocabulary is limited, speech is slowed with a greater number of pauses, and the sentences are short and grammatically simplified, often repeated.[14] Although CDS features marked auditory characteristics, other factors aid in development of language. Three types of modifications occur to adult-directed speech in the production of CDS[15]

  • linguistic modifications, particularly prosody, including the simplification of speech units as well as emphasis on various phonemes.
  • modifications to attention-gaining strategies, providing visual cues through body language (kinesics), particularly movements of the face, to more effectively maintain the attention of their infants.
  • modifications to the interactions between parents and infants. Parents use CDS not only to promote language development, but to foster a positive relationship with their infants.

The younger the child, the more exaggerated the adult's CDS is. The attention of infants is held more readily by CDS over normal speech, as with adults.[16] The more expressive CDS is, the more likely infants are to respond to this method of communication by adults.[17]

CDS also incorporates body movements that assist visually in conveying meaning of language to infants[citation needed]. Due to the visual cues, infants are more highly motivated to engage in communication.

A key visual aspect of CDS is the movement of the lips.[18] One characteristic is the wider opening of the mouth present in those using CDS versus adult-directed speech[citation needed], particularly in vowels. The horizontal positioning of the lips in CDS does not differ significantly from that used in adult-directed speech. Instead, the observed difference lies in vertical lip positioning: By making the opening of the lips larger, infants are more likely to focus on the face of the speaker[citation needed]. Research suggests that with the larger opening of the lips during CDS, infants are better able to grasp the message being conveyed due to the heightened visual cues.[18]

Head movements emphasize various syllables within language production. These visual cues provide infants additional information needed to perform accurate speech discrimination during language development[citation needed].

Visual cues also allow infants to discriminate speech differences in environments in which they cannot rely upon their hearing (e.g., noisy environments). However, the auditory and visual aspects of CDS do not exist independently. Infants rely equally on both methods of understanding and, as development continues, infants strengthen the link between these two important categories.[citation needed]

Research indicates that infants do not play a passive role in this interaction, but engage interactively, and are attracted to people who engage in CDS[citation needed]. Through this interaction, infants are able to determine who positive and encouraging caregivers will be in their development. When infants use CDS as a determinant of acceptable caregivers, their cognitive development seems to thrive because they are being encouraged by adults who are invested in the development of the given infants.[19] Because the process is interactive, caregivers are able to make significant progress through the use of CDS.[18]

Purpose and implications[edit]

Use with infants[edit]

Studies have shown that from birth, infants prefer to listen to CDS, which is more effective than regular speech in getting and holding an infant's attention.[20] Some researchers[21] believe that CDS is an important part of the emotional bonding process between the parents and their child, and helps the infants learn the language. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Wisconsin found that using basic “baby talk” may support babies in picking up words faster.[22] Infants pay more attention when parents use CDS, which has a slower and more repetitive tone than used in regular conversation.

CDS has been observed in languages other than English.[23]

Purposes and benefits of CDS include support the ability of infants to bond with their caregivers. In addition, infants begin the process of speech and language acquisition and development through CDS.[18]

CDS may also contribute to the modulation of infant attention, assist infants in determining relevant syntactic qualities including phonetic boundaries, and convey positive emotion to infants[citation needed].

Children learn fastest who receive the most acknowledgement and encouragement of what they say, who are given time and attention to speak and share, and who are questioned.[24] Six-month-olds can discriminate between medial position syllables in words with multiple syllables when CDS is used[citation needed]. Infants are able to apply this to larger words and sentences as they learn to process language.[15]

CDS aids infants in bonding to caregivers. Although infants have a range of social cues available to them regarding who will provide adequate care, CDS serves as an additional indicator as to which caregivers will provide developmental support. When adults engage in CDS with infants, they are providing positive emotion and attention, signaling to infants that they are valued.[19]

CDS can also serve as a priming tool for infants to notice the faces of their caregivers. Infants are more sensitive to the pitch and emphasized qualities of this method[citation needed]. Therefore, when caregivers utilize CDS, they expand the possibility for their infants to observe and process facial expressions. This effect could in part be due to infants associating CDS with positive facial expressions such as smiling, being more likely to respond to CDS if they expect to receive a positive response from their caregiver.[25]

CDS may promote processing of word forms, allowing infants to remember words when asked to recall them in the future. As words are repeated through CDS, infants begin to create mental representations of each word. As a result, infants who experience CDS are able to recall words more effectively than infants who do not.[26]

Infants can pick up on the vocal cues of CDS and will often pattern their babbling after it.[27]

Children of depressed mothers, who do not regularly use CDS, display delayed language development[citation needed]. Even when depressed mothers provide their infants with positive faces, infants do not respond to their attempts at CDS, and in turn do not benefit from this important route for language acquisition. Infants are unable to create the link between speech and visual face movements in situations such as these. When fathers who are not depressed are able to provide the stimulation of CDS, infants respond well and are able to compensate from the deficit left by their mothers[citation needed]. This too can inhibit language and speech development. Therefore, this deficit can be especially harmful to infants with depressed mothers and little contact with male caregivers.[28] Socioeconomic status has been found to influence the development of vocabulary and language skills. Lower-status groups tend to be behind the development of children in higher-status families. This finding is thought to be due to the amount of time parents spend with the child and the ways they interact; mothers from higher-status groups are found to say more to their children, use more variety, and speak in longer sentences.[29]

Aid to cognitive development[edit]

Shore and others believe that CDS contributes to mental development as it helps teach the child the basic function and structure of language.[21] Studies have found that responding to an infant's babble with meaningless babble aids the infant's development; while the babble has no logical meaning, the verbal interaction demonstrates to the child the bidirectional nature of speech, and the importance of verbal feedback.[citation needed] Some experts advise that parents should not talk to young children solely in baby talk, but should integrate some normal adult speech as well. The high-pitched sound of CDS gives it special acoustic qualities which may appeal to the infant.[30] CDS may aid a child in the acquisition and/or comprehension of language-particular rules which are otherwise unpredictable;[30] an example is the reduction or avoidance of pronoun reversal errors.[31] It has been also suggested that motherese is crucial for children to acquire the ability to ask questions.[32]

Use with non-infants[edit]

The use of baby talk is not limited to interactions between adults and infants, as it may be used among adults, or by people to animals. In these instances, the outward style of the language may be that of baby talk, but is not considered actual "parentese", as it serves a different linguistic function (see pragmatics).

Patronizing / derogatory baby talk[edit]

Baby talk and imitations of it may be used by one non-infant to another as a form of verbal abuse, in which the talk is intended to infantilize the victim[citation needed]. This can occur during bullying, when the aggressor uses baby talk to assert that the victim is weak, cowardly, overemotional, or otherwise inferior.[33]

Flirtatious baby talk[edit]

Baby talk may be used as a form of flirtation between sexual or romantic partners. In this instance, the baby talk may be an expression of tender intimacy, and may perhaps form part of affectionate sexual roleplaying in which one partner speaks and behaves childishly, while the other acts motherly or fatherly, responding in "parentese"[citation needed]. One or both partners might perform the child role. Terms of endearment, such as poppet (or, indicatively, baby), may be used for the same purpose in communication between the partners.

Baby talk with pets[edit]

Many people speak to their dogs in their native language with more than just commands — they speak to them as if they were another human being. These actions are not providing communication with the dog, but social interactions for the speaker, usually in order to solve some problem.[34]:304–306

The speaking style people use when talking to dogs is very similar to CDL, and has been referred to as Doggerel.[35] There are strikingly similar characteristics between CDL and pet-speak. People tend to use sentences of around 11 words when talking to another adult; this is reduced to four words when speaking to a dog. People employ more imperatives or commands to a dog, but ask twice as many questions of the dog as of other humans, even though they don't expect the dog to answer. Recordings show that 90% of pet-talk is spoken mostly in the present tense because people talk to dogs about what is happening now rather than the past or the future, which is twice as much as they do with humans. Also, people are 20 times more likely to repeat or rephrase themselves to dogs than they do to humans.

A significant difference is that CDL contains many more sentences about specific bits of information, such as "This cup is red," because they are intended to teach children about language and the environment. Pet-speech contains perhaps half the sentences of this form, as rather than instructive, its primary purpose is as a social function for humans; whether the dog learns anything does not seem to be a concern.[34]:308–310

As well as the raised vocal pitch, pet-speech strongly emphasizes intonations and any emotional phrasing. There are diminutives such as "walkie" for walk and "bathie" for bath. Words and phrases may be modified to make them less formal, using words such as "wanna" and "gonna". Although there is no evidence that speaking to a dog in this manner helps the dog understand what is being said, there is evidence suggesting that talking to dogs in a normal, purposeful, and meaningful manner improves their receptive language abilities.[34]:310

Foreigner talk[edit]

When addressing a listener not skilled in the speaker's language, people may simplify their spoken language in an attempt to improve understanding. Some use sign language to communicate with others, especially if they have a hearing problem, although this is not always understood by people, as some signs in sign language may be difficult to interpret by some people, especially if gestures have different meanings from place to place, so they may use a baby talk-like language to communicate, skipping out small words and possibly using demonstratives instead of pronouns, for example Do not cross the road becoming No cross road. While this kind of simplifications could be helpful for, say, foreign tourists, this type of communication is perceived as rude or offensive in some societies, because it may cause the foreigner to feel infantilized. It can also be considered insulting if the foreigner is skilled in the speaker's language. While not considered to be actual parentese,[original research?] it has aspects which make the two language styles similar.[citation needed]

Baby-talk words taken into adult speech[edit]

Sometimes baby-talk words are taken into adult speech. Examples are:

  • "nanny" = "children's nurse" to distinguish from "hospital nurse".
  • "nappy" for "diaper", in UK usage.
  • In Ancient Greek, "πάππος" ("grandfather") instead of expected *"ἄος" from Indo-European *h₂éwh₂os

Universality and differences by region[edit]

Researchers Bryant and Barrett (2007)[36] have suggested (as have others before them, e.g., Fernald, 1992[37]) that CDL exists universally across all cultures and is a species-specific adaptation.[38] Other researchers contend that it is not universal among the world's cultures, and argue that its role in helping children learn grammar has been overestimated, pointing out that in some societies (such as certain Samoan tribes),[21] adults do not speak to their children at all until the children reach a certain age. Furthermore, even where baby-talk is used, it has many complicated grammatical constructions, and mispronounced or non-standard words. Other evidence suggests that baby talk is not a universal phenomenon: for example Schieffelin & Ochs (1983) describe the Kaluli tribe of Papua New Guinea who do not typically employ CDS.[39] Language acquisition in Kaluli children was not found to be significantly impaired. In other societies, it is more common to speak to children as one would to an adult, but with simplifications in grammar and vocabulary, with the belief that it will help them learn words in the standard form[citation needed].

In order to relate to the child during baby talk, a parent may deliberately slur or fabricate some words, and may pepper the speech with nonverbal utterances. A parent might refer only to objects and events in the immediate vicinity, and will often repeat the child's utterances back to them. Since children employ a wide variety of phonological and morphological simplifications (usually distance assimilation or reduplication) in learning speech, such interaction results in the "classic" baby-words like na-na for grandmother, wawa for water, or din-din for dinner, where the child seizes on a stressed syllable of the input, and simply repeats it to form a word.[clarification needed]

The extent to which caregivers rely on and use CDS differs based on cultural differences. Mothers in regions that display predominately introverted cultures are less likely to display a great deal of CDS, although it is still utilized[citation needed]. Further, the personality of each child experiencing CDS from a caregiver deeply impacts the extent to which a caregiver will use this method of communication.[18]

CDS has been seen in other languages such as Japanese, Italian, Mandarin, British English, American English, French, and German[40] This is the basis for claims that CDS is a necessary aspect of social development for children.[15] Although found in many cultures, CDS is far from universal in terms of style and amount it is used.[41] A factor found to influence the way adults communicate with children is the way the culture views children. For example, if they view children as helpless and unable to understand, adults tend to interact with children less than if they believe that children are capable of learning and understanding. Often, cultures lacking a form of CDS make up for it in other ways, such as involving the children more in everyday activities, though the reverse might also be a valid assessment.[14]

Research suggests[who?] that in a tonal language, such as Mandarin, the use of CDS is beneficial to development[citation needed]. Specifically, Mandarin features lexical tones that must be used with every syllable which in turn convey meaning; in Mandarin and other tonal languages, mothers use CDS by heightening the pitch of speaking, making the product easier for infants to understand.

The raising of pitch in speech associated with CDS is present cross culturally and occurs regardless of the language being spoken. Psychoacoustic studies on intonation have been used to further determine the effect of higher pitch and exaggerated syllables used in CDS. These tests have determined that the properties of CDS do not create additional difficulty for infants when attempting to distinguish speech. Instead, the raised pitch and elongated style of CDS allow for more effective communication.

Further, Mandarin-speaking mothers who emphasized changes between phonemes had children with higher successes in language discrimination tests.

Vocabulary and structure[edit]


With respect to English-speaking parents, it is well-established[42] that Anglo-Saxon or Germanic words tend to predominate in informal speech registers, whereas Latinate vocabulary is usually reserved for more formal uses such as legal and scientific texts. Child-directed speech, an informal speech register, also tends to use Anglo-Saxon vocabulary. The speech of mothers to young children has a higher percentage of native Anglo-Saxon verb tokens than speech addressed to adults.[43] In particular, in parents’ CDS the clausal core[44] is built in the most part by Anglo-Saxon verbs, namely, almost all tokens of the grammatical relations subject-verb, verb-direct object and verb-indirect object that young children are presented with, are constructed with native verbs.[45] The Anglo-Saxon verb vocabulary consists of short verbs, but its grammar is relatively complex. Syntactic patterns specific to this sub-vocabulary in present-day English include periphrastic constructions for tense, aspect, questioning and negation, and phrasal lexemes functioning as complex predicates, all of which occur also in CDS.[citation needed]

As noted above, baby talk often involves shortening and simplifying words, with the possible addition of slurred words and nonverbal utterances, and can invoke a vocabulary of its own. Some utterances are invented by parents within a particular family unit, or are passed down from parent to parent over generations, while others are quite widely known and used within most families, such as wawa for water, num-num for a meal, ba-ba for bottle, or beddy-bye for bedtime, and are considered standard or traditional words, possibly differing in meaning from place to place.[citation needed]

Baby talk, language regardless, usually consists of a muddle of words, including names for family members, names for animals, eating and meals, bodily functions and genitals, sleeping, pain, possibly including important objects such as diaper, blanket, pacifier, bottle, etc., and may be sprinkled with nonverbal utterances, such as goo goo ga ga. The vocabulary of made-up words, such as those listed below, may be quite long with terms for a large number of things, rarely or possibly never using proper language, other times quite short, dominated by real words, all nouns. Most words invented by parents have a logical meaning, although the nonverbal sounds are usually completely meaningless and just fit the speech together.[citation needed]

A fair number of baby talk and nursery words refer to bodily functions or the genitals, partly because the words are relatively easy to pronounce.[original research?] Also, if a child is very young, bodily functions such as urination and defecation may be quite exciting for them. Scientific terms may be harder for them to understand and pronounce, so baby talk may be more convenient for a young child. Moreover, such words reduce adults' discomfort with the subject matter, and make it possible for children to discuss such things without breaking adult taboos. However, some, such as pee-pee and poo-poo have been very widely used in reference to bodily functions to the point that they are considered to be standard words, so ability to mention such subjects without adult negativity has recently faded.[citation needed]

Sometimes baby talk words escape from the nursery and get into adult vocabulary, for example "nanny" for "children's nurse" or "nursery governess".[46]


Moreover, many words can be derived into baby talk following certain rules of transformation, in English adding a terminal /i/ sound at the end, usually written and spelled as /ie/, /y/, or /ey/, is a common way to form a diminutive which is often used as part of baby talk, examples include :

  • horsey (from horse)
  • kitty (from cat or kitten)
  • potty (originally from pot now equivalent to modern toilet or a chamber pot for a young child)
  • doggy (from dog)
  • ducky (from duck)

("Puppy" is often erroneously thought to be a diminutive of pup made this way, but it is in fact the other way around: pup is a shortening of puppy, which comes from French popi or poupée which means "doll". "Doll" is such a shortening for "dolly", which started as a pet form for "Dorothy".)[citation needed]

Many languages have their own unique form of diminutive suffix (see list of diminutives by language for international examples).


Baby talk phrases and sentences often skip out small words, imitating young children who can make little sense of sentence composition, such as to, at, for, my, so and as, and articles (the, a, an), thus resulting in an incomplete sentence, such as I need go potty or I want blanket. Sometimes, demonstratives are used instead of pronouns (he, I, it, she etc.), as it may help children learn people's names, for example, Daddy wants Susie to eat her cereal instead of standard adult-type speech, I want you to eat your cereal as pronouns are often confusing to young children. Also, labelling is practised, sometimes emphasising a word through repetition within a sentence, such as That's a car, Susie. It's a car. Some parents substitute a particular word in a sentence with a difficult sound to pronounce with another easier word, such as choo-choo instead of train as some children are unable to pronounce the /tr/ sound as infants, although most learn pronunciations and phonics as they increase in age.[citation needed]

All individual words have a logical meaning, although phrases made up of them are often based on random utterances, sprinkled with logical words, so the child can "sift" out the words with meanings and interpret them, as the parent may teach language by labelling, associating the word with the object or action.[citation needed]

Use as informal terms[edit]

Baby talk words and phrases such as mama, pee-pee, potty, yucky, no-no and tummy are sometimes used after infancy as colloquial or informal terms. However, reduplication is not practiced. For example, pee-pee becomes pee. Also, meanings may alter slightly to become more age-universal and specific: for example potty changing in meaning from any toilet to a container-like one for small children, yum-yum changing from mealtime to an informal expression of delight towards a meal, or stinky changing from defecation (as a countable noun) to an adjective for something smelling bad. Poppet or similar terms may be used as a term of endearment for a loved one of similar age, such as a romantic partner, and quick-quick or no-no may be used as expressions in school, university and even occupational work scenarios[citation needed]. Nonverbal utterances such as googoogaga may be used as figuratives for things misinterpreted or not understood. Words such as mama and nana are words often used for family members past infancy. The word doo-doo is used as a figurative later in age for something difficult or problematic, such as When the computer's jammed, we're in deep doo-doo.[original research?]


Most standard baby talk words consist of a single syllable duplicated, such as mama, dada, poo-poo, pee-pee, baba, boo-boo, bot-bot, num-num, dum-dum and wee-wee. These are often imitations of a baby's first utterances which take the shape of a word. These are made when the child takes a stressed syllable of the main word to shorten it and repeats it to form a word-like utterance[citation needed]. Words with similar sounds from stressed syllables, such as mama, dada and baba[original research?]include:

  • ba-ba from bottle
  • dum-dum from dummy (British term for a pacifier)
  • mama from mother
  • dada from daddy

Words can be made from a diminutive with an /i/ sound at the end, reduplicated, but the first letter of the duplication replaced with a /w/- for example teensy-weensy, puppy-wuppy or binkie-winkie. Realistic language examples following this same pattern known as partial duplications or modified duplications include okey-dokey, silly-billy, mumbo-jumbo and super-duper, which use the first letter as the point of modification. However, these patterns are more common in colloquial language and slang than formal English and rarely use a /w/ for modification.[original research?]

Many baby talk words for animals involve duplication of the onomatopoeia of the sound they make, including:

  • moo-moo (cow)
  • neigh-neigh (horse)
  • baa-baa, sometimes written as ba-ba (sheep)

Others, which do not relate to animals, include vroom-vroom (car) and choo-choo (train).[original research?]

Differences in pronunciation[edit]

Other transformations mimic the way infants mistake certain consonants which in English can include turning /l/ into /w/ as in wuv from love or widdo from little, or in pronouncing /v/ as /b/, and /ð/ or /t/ as /d/, and /θ/ as /f/ or /s/. It is a way of imitating how a baby or young child speaks, because most babies, when they start talking, talk as though they have a speech disorder because they mistake certain consonants. This usually is outgrown by the age of five or six.[original research?]

Still other transformations, but not in all languages, include elongated vowels, such as kitty and kiiiitty, (emphasized /i/) meaning the same thing. While this is understood by English speaking toddlers, it is not applicable with Dutch toddlers as they learn that elongated vowels reference different words.[47]


CDS includes features of higher pitch, exaggerated pitch changes, elongated vowels and long pauses between phonemes. This is done in order to allow infants time to process the information being conveyed to them[citation needed]. Rhythm is also heavily emphasized in this practice and is used closely with the emphasis of various syllables. Vowel space is also expanded in CDS allowing for accurate phoneme discrimination. Words that are somewhat difficult in terms of the sounds that make them up, or phonologically difficult words, might be simplified.[citation needed]


CDS features a unique syntax, usually having a simplified form. Caregivers utilizing CDS often use short utterances rather than full sentence structures in order to convey meaning to their infants. These short units are often repeated so infants have practice in a particular concept. CDS allows for infants to detect syntactic boundaries. Further, CDS makes linguistic patterns easier to discover than when adult-directed speech is used. Infants begin to understand word order through CDS which slowly expands into a deeper understanding of sentence structure as a whole.[citation needed]

Communicating with children can be difficult if the adult cannot maintain their attention, so the topic must be on things that interest them. Research has found that five topics tend to dominate the conversation: members of the family, animals, parts of the body, food, and clothing[citation needed]. Conversations with children are mostly about the present and the here-and-now, rather than topics pertaining to another time.[citation needed].

Examples in literature[edit]

  • The novelist Booth Tarkington, in Seventeen (1917), gives this example of baby talk, in this case, from a pet owner speaking to her dog:
...pressing her cheek to Flopit's, she changed her tone. "Izzum's ickle heart a-beatin' so floppity! Um's own mumsy make ums all right, um's p'eshus Flopit!"
"A Peke, the ickle angel pet, wiv his gweat big soulful eyes and his ickle black nosie — oh so ducky-duck!"
  • Punch, April 23, 1919, in a humorous piece purporting to pose examination questions on "the interesting language known as Bablingo", quizzes the examinee on items such as "Wasums and didums, then? Was it a ickle birdie, then?" "Did he woz-a-woz, then; a Mum's own woz-man?" and "Did she try to hit her ickle bruzzer on his nosie-posie wiz a mug? Did she want to break him up into bitsy-witsies?"
  • In her New Yorker review of A.A. Milne's The House at Pooh Corner (1928), Dorothy Parker, writing under the book reviewer pen name Constant Reader, purposefully mimics baby talk when dismissing the book's syrupy prose style: "It is that word 'hummy,' my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weader fwowed up."
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003), J. K. Rowling gives this example of baby talk, from Bellatrix Lestrange to Harry Potter: "The little baby woke up fwightened and fort what it dweamed was twoo."
  • Siblings Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey recorded their childhood memories in Cheaper By The Dozen. Their father, Frank Gilbreth, refused to use baby talk with his firstborn, Anne, stating that “the only reason a baby talks baby talk is because that’s all he's heard from grownups. Some children are almost full grown before they learn that the whole world doesn't speak baby talk.” He insisted on talking to the newborn Anne like an adult, going so far as to hire a German nanny so that Anne could learn German right along with English. However, Gilbreth didn't hold too fast to his rule: "At night, when the light was out Dad would reach over into the bassinet and stroke the baby's hand. And once Mother woke up in the middle of the night and saw him leaning over the bassinet and whispering distinctly: “Is 'ou a ittle bitty baby? Is 'ou Daddy's ittle bitty girl?” “What was that, dear?” said Mother, smiling into the sheet. Dad cleared his throat. “Nothing. I was just telling this noisy, ill-behaved, ugly little devil that she is more trouble than a barrel of monkeys.” “And just as much fun?” “Every bit.”

See also[edit]

  • Babbling – sounds that babies make before they learn to talk
  • Crib talk – toddlers talking to themselves
  • Developmental psychology
  • Elderspeak – the style of speech used by younger people when talking to older people
  • Mama and papa – the early sounds or words commonly used by babies
  • Girneys – sounds similar to baby talk that are used by some large monkeys


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Further reading[edit]

  • Evans, Chris ([1196–1200]) Use on British Channel 4 program TFI Friday. e.g. the ickle drum kit.

External links[edit]