"Even four year olds adjust their language when speaking to a two year old. The way that adults talk to babies is similar to the way they talk to dogs."
(Hirsh-Pasek and Treiman, 1982)
Child-directed speech aims to:
- Attract and hold the baby’s attention;
- Help the process of breaking down language into understandable chunks;
- Correct virtuous errors;
- Make the conversation more predictable;
- Encourage language development and conversational skills.
Features of Child-directed speech:
- Higher pitch and exaggerated intonation and stress
- Repeated sentence frames
- Repetition and partial repetition of adult’s own words
- Questions and commands
- Frequent use of the child’s name and an absence of pronouns (Durkin disputes this)
- Absence of past tenses
- A large number of one word utterances (holophrases)
- Omission of inflections e.g. plurals and possessives
- Fewer verbs, modifiers (adjectives in front of nouns) and function words (such as ‘at’ ‘my’)
- Use of concrete nouns
- Use of expansions – the adult fills out the child’s utterance
- Use of re-castings – baby’s vocab put into a new utterance
Does child-directed speech influence children’s language development?
Some Common Ideas about CDS
• A parent’s use of questions with ‘yes/no’ answers seems to be connected with many aspects of children’s language development;
• Complexity in a parent’s language CAN hinder a child's language development;
• The use of child-directed speech improves the child’s use of auxiliary verbs such as ‘could’, ‘have’, ‘did’, ‘might’.