Dr Marina Kalashnikova from the MARCS Institute at Western Sydney University has published research showing a subconscious purpose behind the use of babytalk by parents and carers. The study, published by the Royal Society Open Science, showed the subconscious reasons for changing voices when communicating with babies, or infant-directed speech (IDS) has a variety of benefits.
The research suggested that the higher pitch adults use in IDS could be due to attempting to appear smaller and less threatening to infants, a harking back to our hominid ancestors. Additionally, the simplification of language and the exaggeration of facial expressions and enunciation (particularly for vowel sounds) can help infants develop speech. Whilst the study doesn’t suggest that the subconscious exaggeration of the production of vowel sounds by parents and carers is done in order to teach language, it is perhaps an evolutionary accident.
Kalishnakova said: “Mothers’ speech also sounds more similar to an infants’ own vocalisation and this has been proposed to drive their preference for IDS; further, infants prefer to listen to speech that is similar to the sounds that they produce.”Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]