Sick and tired of people using baby talk around your precious bundle of joy? As it turns out it may be more annoying to you than it is to your babe. At least that’s the word from scientists who have decided to delve a little deeper into the matter.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh recently discovered that when it comes to toddlers, the repetitive nature of baby talk may actually help them to grasp language skills a little earlier in life. So maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to correct our baby vocabulary after all.
The findings, which were published in The Language Learning and Development Journal, showed that tots who were spoken to in repeated syllables (think of words commonly found in “baby talk”) responded better than those who were spoken to in ‘nonreduplicated’ words. Think nee-nees and poo-poo over pacifiers and well… poop.
So how did they come to that conclusion, exactly? By giving the kids visual presentations of two objects, both of which were given made-up names. One was — you guessed it — made up of repeated syllables, while the other was not. The infants then heard a recorded voice-over introducing the objects, and in most cases, their eyes tended to draw more towards the objects with repeated syllables.
Maybe there’s a reason most cultures tend to use baby talk towards youngins after all — we’ve just naturally been doing what works best when it comes to learning words. It’s also in line with what other studies have found in relation to toddlers and learning: babies learn better with patter and repetition when it comes to music, vision and behaviour too.
At the very least, this proves none of us should feel too bad if our kids respond better to “tum-tum” than tummy, or “mama” and “dada” over mom and dad. If science says it’s cool, we’re down with it too. At least in moderation.
Now animals? That’s another conversation entirely.