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Baby Talk Better Than Adult Speech

The way you talk to your baby may be more than just cute -- scientists say it could be helping the youngster master the language.There has been some controversy swirling around about whether baby talk is good for your little one.// Some have suggested that normal grownup talk is actually better for infants' speech development.So, University of Washington in Seattle researchers took one step towards settling this issue once and for all.

In a previous study, Patricia Kuhl and colleagues found that adults do, in fact, talk differently to infants than they do to other adults. They were able to show this by using a computer-based program to "listen" to how adults pronounce vowel sounds when talking to infants vs. adults. They discovered that baby talk sounds are not only clearer but are actually spoken differently.

In order to see if this baby talk is any more helpful than the way most adults speak to each other, the researchers used this computer program to pick out key vowel sounds in English. They chose "o", "oo", and "ee" because these sounds were felt to be very unique. Then 10 mothers were recorded saying the words "sock", "shoe", and "sheep" in two different ways. The first go around the moms were talking to an adult. The second time they spoke the words to their babies.

After analyzing hundreds of spoken words, the computer was easily able to tell the baby-talk sounds apart. However, it could not distinguish the difference in adult vowel sounds. The researchers claim that this is an indication that babies probably understand baby talk better than adult speech because the words are spoken with clearer, more distinct sounds.


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