The influence of speech on the development of the child

Parents have long thought that the best way to communicate with their young child is through baby talk. Speaking more slowly, using a sing-song the influence of speech on the development of the child, and using strange words may not, in fact, be the best way to communicate with your child, researchers have revealed. In fact, they say parents should just speak clearly. Scientists claim that talking to babies gives them advantages in life far beyond a larger vocabulary.

They say that chatting to babies under the age of one, helps them make friends, as well as making them brighter because they are better able to discover the world around them. The research findings in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, found that mothers may actually speak less clearly to their infants than they do to adults. A team of experts at the Laboratory for Language Development at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Tokyo then spent 5 years annotating the 14 hours of speech, marking specific aspects of the speech including the beginnings and ends of consonants, vowels, phrases. To our knowledge, this is one of the most finely annotated large corpora of child-directed speech in the world,’ said the researchers. Next, the researchers applied a technique they had developed to measure the acoustic similarity between any two syllables, like ‘pa’ and ‘ba’, ‘po’ and ‘bo’. Could cars be controlled like a smartphone? Because the analysis is automated, the international team was able to examine the 118 most frequent syllable contrasts in both the adult- and child-directed speech.

The results were surprising: Mothers spoke slightly less clearly when talking to their child than to the experimenter. This finding is important because it challenges the widespread view that parents do and should hyperarticulate, using very robust data and an analysis based on a study of 10 times as many syllable contrasts as previous work,’ says Alejandrina Cristia, a researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris. Previous research has claimed  talking to babies gives them advantages in life far beyond a larger vocabulary. By studying all the frequent contrasts in spontaneous speech, we can be confident that we have gained a view of the child’s input that is both comprehensive and realistic. The researchers caution that these findings don’t provide any evidence regarding whether speaking more or less clearly to your child boosts language acquisition.

But they may shed light on why babies seem to be so much better at learning the distinctive sounds of their language than adults are. Our results suggest that, at least for learning sound contrasts, the secret to infants’ language-learning genius may be in the infants themselves — the fact that they are able pick up sounds from input that is less clear than that used by adults with each other makes this accomplishment all the more remarkable,’ explains researcher Andrew Martin, a member of the Tokyo team. It’s time to man up, Harry! Georgia Walsh, 16, killed herself last year after accusing her stepfather Brett Connell of sex abuse.