ERIC Number: ED209937
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Nov
Reference Count: 0
Vocal Communication with a Three-Month Old Baby.
Sandner, Gerhard W.; Wagner, Edith
The ontogenetic development of human vocal utterances and their role in early interaction processes were studied with a three-month-old baby. Recordings were made of infant vocalizations in the home and the sounds were classified. During a five-minute segment between the mother and infant, the infant produced 59 utterances, 93 percent of which had features typical of flats (i.e., having a fundamental frequency that is smooth, comparably low, approximating pure harmonic tones, and having a similarity to vowels). A computer program was developed to plot the fundamental frequency, intensity, and time pattern of the vocal utterances of both partners. The amount of turn-taking suggests that the infant not only produced a series of vocalizations but actually engaged in a kind of conversation. Those phrases that the baby responded to had a common feature: they exhibited a very similar pitch contour. Fifteen out of a total of 18 utterances with a rising contour were responded to by the infant during a segment. There was a surprising conformity between the utterances within each episode: in some cases the mother imitated the baby and in others the baby was able to copy the pitch contour of the mother's voice within certain limits. Reciprocity, imitation, and the use of bell-contours appeared to be important to the success of the exchange. The mother intended to talk with the baby and used infant-oriented speech, which the baby responded to within a few seconds. It is suggested that the rising contour vocalizations were used by the mother as turn-markers, strongly compelling the infant to respond. (SW)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Stanford Univ., CA. Dept. of Linguistics.
Note: In its Papers and Reports on Child Language Development, Number 20, p116-123, Nov 1981.