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Motherese

Motherese is a special way of talking to infants and young children. Its unique characteristics highlight what is important when adults speak, which in turn helps infants and children to develop speech and language. It is also known by the terms infant-directed speech, child-directed speech, caretaker speech, and parentese. When using motherese, speakers unconsciously use a higher pitch and a more exaggerated pitch contour (i.e., rise and fall). These serve to gain infants’ attention, which is critical for learning speech. Infants actually show a preference for listening to motherese. It can be used by anyone speaking to an infant or young child. It is similar to how humans speak to their pets (pet-directed speech). Motherese use has been observed across various languages. Its use may ...

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