views updated May 29 2018

BABY TALK. Kinds of speech used by small children. When used by adults, it is sometimes known technically as MOTHERESE, caretaker language, caregiver language. In the utterances of young children there is little grammar, vocabulary is idiosyncratic, and pronunciation immature, such as Dada gone car (Daddy has gone in the car). Adults speaking to small children adopt simplified grammar, special vocabulary, and exaggerated intonations: All gone, doggie The dog has gone. The appropriateness of ‘adult baby talk’ is sometimes questioned on the grounds that to provide a child with such a distortion of normal speech hinders the process of language learning. However, many researchers consider that the simplified grammar and marked stress patterns have an important role in making the structure of speech more accessible to the child. Forms of baby talk are also used in jocular, intimate conversation. See CHILD LANGUAGE ACQUISITION.

baby talk

views updated May 11 2018

ba·by talk • n. childish talk used by or to young children.