Alphadictionary.com

Our Sponsors

Technical Translation
Website Translation Clip Art
 

Baby talk

A discussion of the peculiarities of languages and the differences between them.

Baby talk

Postby M. Henri Day » Thu Apr 07, 2005 10:55 am

Loxodontic linguistic learning went over like a lead ... elephant, but incapable of learning from experience as I am, I hope that fellow Agorists will find the article on baby talk reproduced below of greater interest. After all, most of us were babies, once....

Henri

April 5, 2005

VITAL SIGNS

Child Development: Could I Have a Definition, Please?

By NICHOLAS BAKALAR

T
alking to babies in their own language - baby talk - may help them learn new words faster.

A group of researchers led by Dr. Erik D. Thiessen, an assistant professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, tested 40 8-month-old infants. The babies were played tapes of two sets of four-word nonsense sentences, one spoken in ordinary adult conversational tones, the other in the pitch and rhythm of baby talk.

For a few minutes, the babies listened to the sentence. Then a single word was repeated while a light flashed on one side of the room. As long as the infant looked at the light, the word continued to repeat. When the baby looked away, the recording stopped.

Dr. Thiessen says earlier studies have shown that infants consistently focus longer on the light when they hear a word they know. By timing the infant's gaze, the researchers showed that they learned words more efficiently when trained with baby talk than with adult speech. The study appears in the March issue of Infancy.

Discussing his findings, Dr. Thiessen said, "This way of talking, which we all have an urge to do, is actually beneficial for babies."

But he warns against adopting any particular method to help a baby's linguistic development. "Babies can learn from a wide variety of speech, not just baby talk," Dr. Thiessen said. "It's more important to interact through language in natural ways than to try to use some specific technique you think will make your baby grow up smarter."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
M. Henri Day
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1142
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 8:24 am
Location: Stockholm, SVERIGE

Postby Brazilian dude » Thu Apr 07, 2005 12:02 pm

Babytalk or motherese, as I saw the other day.

I've always taught infants to say words like inexorable, inextinguishable, abominable, orthodox, and ineluctable, but I don't think I've been very successful.

Brazilian dude
Languages rule!
Brazilian dude
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1464
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Botucatu - SP Brazil

Postby M. Henri Day » Thu Apr 07, 2005 12:13 pm

Just as long, BD, as you don't teach them «incorrigible», which word - alas - I had occasion to learn at an early age....

Henri
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
M. Henri Day
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1142
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 8:24 am
Location: Stockholm, SVERIGE

Postby Apoclima » Thu Apr 07, 2005 5:52 pm

I am alittle confused by the experiment!

The babies were played tapes of two sets of four-word nonsense sentences, one spoken in ordinary adult conversational tones, the other in the pitch and rhythm of baby talk.


For a few minutes, the babies listened to the sentence.


Still the nonsense sentence, right!

Then a single word was repeated while a light flashed on one side of the room.


Is this one of the nonsense words from the nonsense sentence, or is it a real word? And was it spoken in the adult tone or in baby talk, or either?

I guess some of each!

the researchers showed that they learned words more efficiently when trained with baby talk than with adult speech.


Shouldn't it read that "the researchers showed that they [most babies] learned nonsensewords more efficiently when trained with baby talk than with adult speech."

As for myself, I was walking and talking and didn't need diapers at 9 months. My mom used to love to get me to say "elegant elephants," for her friends, just before that it was "firetruck" which I think all boys love to see and remember, and which is a very dangerous word, if not said correctly.

Apo
'Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination.' -Max Planck
User avatar
Apoclima
Senior Lexiterian
 
Posts: 556
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2005 5:00 pm

Postby tcward » Thu Apr 07, 2005 5:59 pm

Thomas's first word was "Malibu", which was our cat's name at the time. His next real word was "tractor", which is right up there with firetrucks for their revelations of the sublime to boys of that age, based on my experience.

Of course, he usually was a bit relaxed with his enunciation and the excitement of seeing a tractor didn't help, so it usually came out as a string of "actorACTorACTOR!!!" as his little legs managed to force his weight off the ground while the wonderful machine passed in front of our little pink house in the country.

-Tim
User avatar
tcward
Senior Lexiterian
 
Posts: 789
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2005 5:18 pm
Location: The Old North State

Postby KatyBr » Thu Apr 07, 2005 6:35 pm

Ah, Tim, does the now-almost-a-teenager Thomas Know his dad is telling baby stories (albeit cute stories) about him in a public place?

I like the tracACKACTtors, my daughter who could ask the librarian at 2 in perfectly understandable English for books on prestidigitation, couldn't say Massachusettes, it was Massachuchits for years. And Motorcycles were Mackosackos. We'd say no, Meredyth it's MOtorcycle and she'd say, "Oh, MOTO Mackosacko"

Katy
KatyBr
Senior Lexiterian
 
Posts: 959
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2005 5:28 pm

Postby Stargzer » Thu Apr 07, 2005 6:50 pm

Speaking of the Tower of Babble . . .

. . . No matter what the language, baby talk contains four distinct, universal patterns of vowels and consonants--ma-ma, da-da, ba-ba, goo-goo--that may have been the original building blocks of speech, University of Texas researchers contend. . . .

. . . Two-month-old babies can remember word sounds and the variations of speech. At six months, infants begin to pair sounds with a specific meaning. About the same time, infants are tuned to the distinctive sounds of their native tongue. By 7 months, they can deduce where sentences appear or words start and stop. And infants start memorizing words they hear long before they have any idea what they might mean.

An average year-old infant may understand 50 words. That number can triple in a month or two. By 24 months, children can recognize a word in their vocabulary within 600 milliseconds. By high school, the average young person may know 60,000 words, picking them up at the rate of about 10 new words a day. It makes learning a language look like child's play.


From a review of the book HOW BABIES TALK: The Magic and Mystery of Language in the First Three Years of Life:

. . . Infants enter the world "hard-wired" for language, Hirsh-Pasek says. "Babies are not simply passive, receptive beings who sit there being cute," she explains. "Sure, they're adorable, but they also have very active minds, and they take in everything we give them." In fact, researchers know that a 7-month-old fetus can hear its parents because, like a newborn, its heart rate declines and then returns to normal in response to interesting sounds. . . .

. . . But forget piping Mozart to your unborn fetus or flashing foreign words at your newborn: "All you need to do," Hirsh-Pasek says, "is to talk and listen. Your baby wants to communicate with you. And, when toddlers are immersed in language, they use their language earlier and more efficiently." . . .


The review also gives a summary of what they learn at various ages.

Also:

The Origins of Babble:


In their decades-long search for the universal truths about language acquisition, Jusczyk and collaborators around the world have found that at every stage of development, babies know a lot more than they'd been given credit for. The very seeds of language learning, in fact, start to develop in the womb.


"The rhythmic properties of English are such that English words usually (about 75 percent of the time) begin with a stressed (or accented) syllable," says Houston. Think of "bottle," "carrot," "baby," "pencil." Babies raised in an English-speaking environment, the theory goes, apparently recognize this acoustical strong-weak pattern, and use it to pick out words in the sea of babble--that is, to segment speech.


If a word does not fit the strong-weak pattern, Englishspeaking parents make it conform to the pattern, adds Jusczyk: "horse" becomes "horsie." "Dog" becomes "doggie." It is as though parents instinctively know that the strong-weak pattern will help their baby learn the outlines of a word. Not every word in English obeys the strong-weak rule, but finding words that abide by the rule may be an entry point into the language.

But not all languages favor strong-weak accented two-syllable words. Consider chalet and touché and many other French words. They are syllable-timed. Both syllables receive approximately equal emphasis. "So how do French babies learn to segment words?" asks Jusczyk.

The last syllable of many French words is slightly longer than the first syllable (think of château). "Maybe French babies look for [a second] syllable that is accented just a little bit longer," posits Jusczyk. Jusczyk's wife, Ann-Marie, who is laboratory coordinator for the infant language studies, recently trained researchers in France who are now investigating this question. After France, the Jusczyks hope to conduct similar studies in countries where other languages are spoken.


. . . as well as other interesting tidbits on grammar.

I found these links while searching for confirmation of something that I'd heard a while back, that babies tend to say "da-da" before "ma-ma." Haven't found that, yet.
Regards//Larry

"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
-- Attributed to Richard Henry Lee
User avatar
Stargzer
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 2546
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 3:56 pm
Location: Crownsville, MD

Postby Apoclima » Thu Apr 07, 2005 8:02 pm

Nice work, Larry! Thanks!

Apo
'Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination.' -Max Planck
User avatar
Apoclima
Senior Lexiterian
 
Posts: 556
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2005 5:00 pm

Postby anders » Fri Apr 08, 2005 9:53 am

Fortunately, I haven't had children of my own to experiment on. But from my own experience and looking at my next of kin, I'm quite convinced that using babytalk/motherese/nursery language will retard language learning. Why teach the child two languages, one of which will have to be discarded in a few years? A more useful way to promote language learning would be having the child exposed to two living, real, natural languages.

There still may be people who think that the child would be confused by this, and that "too" early bilingualism would make language development slower, but from what I've read and encountered, even three or more languages can be mastered during childhood.

I have in fond memory a Swiss boy of 4 (?). He spoke Züritüütsch (the colloquial German of Zürich) with his parents, and French with his grandparents, and standard German with the Swedish au-pair girl (and of course he learned some Swedish words, when her German failed.)

You may think that I'm contradicting myself, if it was on this board that I vented skepticism regarding the polyglottism of Moroccan (?) children, but I still don't rule out the possibility.

For a substantiated case, there's the Swedish linguistics professor Velta Ruke-Dravina [had to skip a fair number of diacritics]. I find no info on the Internet, but IIRC, she learned a Lithuanian dialect, common Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, German and French during her childhood.
Irren ist männlich
anders
Lexiterian
 
Posts: 405
Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2005 7:46 am
Location: Sweden

Postby KatyBr » Fri Apr 08, 2005 11:46 am

Fortunately, I haven't had children of my own to experiment on. But from my own experience and looking at my next of kin, I'm quite convinced that using babytalk/motherese/nursery language will retard language learning


Thank you Anders, I quite agree, I refused to speak baby talk and my daughter spoke inteligently by age 2. I did spend many hours a day teaching her to speak properly.....

Katy
KatyBr
Senior Lexiterian
 
Posts: 959
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2005 5:28 pm

Postby M. Henri Day » Fri Apr 08, 2005 12:23 pm

Apoclima wrote:...

Is this one of the nonsense words from the nonsense sentence, or is it a real word? And was it spoken in the adult tone or in baby talk, or either?

...


As the press release reproduced below shows, the words more easily learned were, in fact, nonsense words. I suspect the reason for using nonsense, rather than real words in the experiment was to avoid interference from possible previous exposure to the words used. As I understand it, the infants were exposed to the same «sentences» (four-word phrases) spoken with ordinary adult intonation and in baby-talk, respectively, and then tested as to whether they more clearly remembered (as defined by the length of the period their attention was held by a word enunciated in one manner as opposed to the other) words in the former or the latter guise. That they were better able to parse nonsense sentences spoken in the long-drawn and exaggerated tempo of baby talk is hardly surprising - after all, we often ask people speaking in a language or dialect in which we ourselves are not fluent to speak slowly for precisely the same purpose - but it is interesting to have this fact demonstrated....

Henri

Carnegie Mellon Study: Adults' Baby Talk Helps Infants Learn To Speak

PITTSBURGH -- Adults may feel silly when they talk to babies, but those babies will learn to speak sooner if adults talk to them like infants instead of like other adults, according to a study by Carnegie Mellon University Psychology Professor Erik Thiessen published in the March issue of the journal Infancy.

Most adults speak to infants using so-called infant-directed speech: short, simple sentences coupled with higher pitch and exaggerated intonation. Researchers have long known that babies prefer to be spoken to in this manner. But Thiessen's research has revealed that infant-directed speech also helps infants learn words more quickly than normal adult speech. In a series of experiments, he and his colleagues exposed 8-month-old infants to fluent speech made up of nonsense words. The researchers assessed whether, after listening to the fluent speech for less than two minutes, infants had been able to learn the words. The infants who were exposed to fluent speech with the exaggerated intonation contour characteristic of infant-directed speech learned to identify the words more quickly than infants who heard fluent speech spoken in a more monotone fashion.

Thiessen's study may also explain why many adults struggle to learn a second language even though they are able to use their own language effortlessly. Children, after all, learn to speak practically from scratch, and most experts believe infants are more adept than adults at language learning.

"Learning a language is one of the most critical things that an infant has to do, because communication with other people is tremendously important," Thiessen said. "It makes a great deal of sense that the special way we have of talking to babies would help them learn."

Thiessen is director of Carnegie Mellon's Infant Language and Learning Lab, which studies how children are able to learn so much so quickly during their first few years of life. For more information, go to http://www.psy.cmu.edu/~thiessen/labpage.html.

Editor's Note: The original news release can be found here.
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
M. Henri Day
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1142
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 8:24 am
Location: Stockholm, SVERIGE

Postby Apoclima » Fri Apr 08, 2005 4:03 pm

I had a hard time with the link at the end of the article until I realized that the final period was being included.

But then the link on that page didn't get me to the current research page, so I offer this for those interested:

Erik D. Thiessen

Apo
'Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination.' -Max Planck
User avatar
Apoclima
Senior Lexiterian
 
Posts: 556
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2005 5:00 pm

Postby Stargzer » Fri Apr 08, 2005 6:36 pm

anders wrote: . . . I'm quite convinced that using babytalk/motherese/nursery language will retard language learning. Why teach the child two languages, one of which will have to be discarded in a few years? A more useful way to promote language learning would be having the child exposed to two living, real, natural languages.
. . .


Learning a language is different from leaning to speak. I think the use of babytalk is in the earliest stages, when an infant is just learning that she can communicate with sound. They have to experiment (i. e., practice) by babbling, then they are reinforced when their mother goes "ma-ma" or "da-da."

It should not be surprising that a young child could learn several languages--their brains seem to be wired for learning language at that age, and it seems to disappear (especially in my case :wink: ) as they get older.

When my children were young and beginning to talk (as opposed to babbling) I always talked to them in full, complete sentences. I do the same to my dogs, who listen and mind me just as well as the kids did. Dogs are, after all, nothing but four-footed, furry, fanged two-year-olds. :wink:
Regards//Larry

"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
-- Attributed to Richard Henry Lee
User avatar
Stargzer
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 2546
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 3:56 pm
Location: Crownsville, MD

Postby KatyBr » Fri Apr 08, 2005 10:24 pm

I completely disagree with the Carnegie Mellon Study, in my own observations Adults achieve nothing by talking baby talk but sounding stupid. I see this as another example of too much head knowledge fowling up true wisdom. If one Must teach two languages to a child, make it real languages.

I don't believe babies like being patronized anymore than anyone else does.

Katy
KatyBr
Senior Lexiterian
 
Posts: 959
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2005 5:28 pm

Postby anders » Sat Apr 09, 2005 3:49 am

KatyBr wrote:I completely disagree with the Carnegie Mellon Study, in my own observations Adults achieve nothing by talking baby talk but sounding stupid. I see this as another example of too much head knowledge fowling up true wisdom. If one Must teach two languages to a child, make it real languages.

I don't believe babies like being patronized anymore than anyone else does.

Katy

Agree 100 %. And the Skinnerian "reinforcement" theory was dead in the 1960's among linguists.

Psycho(logist)s and sociologists (remember Ruhlen - Greenberg?) should stay away from language research, like linguists and other sane people stay away from social science.
Irren ist männlich
anders
Lexiterian
 
Posts: 405
Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2005 7:46 am
Location: Sweden

Next

Return to Languages of the World

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests