If you’re one of those parents who uses Baby Talk (also known as Motherese) on your infant then researches want you to know that you are among the norm. Researchers have said that, not only is the musical and somewhat musical form of speech found across language, it has also has been shown to play an important role in language learning, engaging infants’ emotions, and highlighting the structure in language. Basically it helps infants figure out how language works.
Princeton University researchers focused on the shift in timbre that mothers use when speaking motherese. Elise Piazza, a postdoctoral research associate with the Princeton Neuroscience Institute (PNI), says that “Timbre is best defined as the unique quality of a sound, Barry White’s silky voice sounds different from Tom Waits’ gravelly one — even if they’re both singing the same note.”
She and her colleagues found that the timbre shift was consistent among women who speak 10 languages when interacting with their children. Those languages include Cantonese, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Mandarin, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and English.
There are scientific results from this study that could prove useful, such as speech recognition software, however it also means if you are one of those parents or grand parents who has been accused of using “Baby Talk” you can now tell them that science has proven many people do it and its helpful!
Story and Audio from Princeton University.