MOTH­ERS CHANGE VOICE QUAL­ITY WHEN TALK­ING TO BA­BIES

The Gulf Today - Panorama - - Have You Heard? -

While speak­ing to their ba­bies, moth­ers tend to shift the tim­bre of their voice in a rather spe­cific way, which could play an im­por­tant role in baby’s lan­guage learn­ing as well as en­gag­ing their emo­tion, re­searchers say. The spe­cial com­mu­nica­tive mode, which moth­ers use when talk­ing to their young in­fants, are known as “moth­erese” or “baby talk” — some­what mu­si­cal form of speech which in­cludes ex­ag­ger­ated pitch con­tours and short repet­i­tive phrases. “We found for the first time that moth­ers shift their vo­cal tim­bre when speak­ing to in­fants, and they do so in a highly con­sis­tent way across many di­verse lan­guages,” said Elise Pi­azza, a post­doc­toral re­search as­so­ciate at the Princeton Univer­sity in New Jersey, US.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­searchers, the unique tim­bre tone could help ba­bies learn to dif­fer­en­ti­ate and direct their at­ten­tion to their mother’s voice from the time they are born. It also plays an im­por­tant role in lan­guage learn­ing, en­gag­ing in­fants’ emo­tions and high­light­ing the struc­ture in lan­guage, to help ba­bies de­code the puz­zle of syl­la­bles and sen­tences.

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