How baby talk words can boost infants’ language skills
London: Do you often speak to your baby? The more baby talk words that the infants are exposed to, the quicker they can grasp the language, suggests a study.
The study of nine-month-old babies by the University of Edinburgh researchers suggested that those who hear words such as bunny or choo-choo more frequently are faster at picking up new words between nine and 21 months.
The team noted words that end in ‘y’ — such as tummy, mummy and doggy — or words that repeat sounds — such as choo-choo and night-night — could help infants identify words in speech.
“Our findings suggest that diminutives and reduplication, which are frequently found in baby talk words across many different languages can facilitate the early stage of vocabulary development,” said lead researcher Mitsuhiko Ota, from the University’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences.
For the study, appearing in the journal Cognitive Science, the team recorded samples of speech addressed to infants learning English.
They checked the speech addressed to each infant for features that characterise baby talk words.
As well as analysing so-called diminutives ending in ‘y’ and reduplication — which contains repeated syllables — they checked for onomatopoeic words that sound like their meaning, such as woof and splash.
They examined the rate of the infants’ language development by measuring the size of the children’s vocabulary at nine, 15 and 21 months.
They found that infants who heard a higher proportion of diminutive words and words with repeated syllables developed their language more quickly between nine and 21 months.