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ERIC Number: EJ1050780
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1524-8372
Prosody in Infant-Directed Speech Is Similar across Western and Traditional Cultures
Broesch, Tanya L.; Bryant, Gregory A.
Journal of Cognition and Development, v16 n1 p31-43 2015
When speaking to infants, adults typically alter the acoustic properties of their speech in a variety of ways compared with how they speak to other adults; for example, they use higher pitch, increased pitch range, more pitch variability, and slower speech rate. Research shows that these vocal changes happen similarly across industrialized populations, but no studies have carefully examined basic acoustic properties of infant-directed (ID) speech in traditional societies. Moreover, some scholars have suggested that ID speech is culturally specific and does not exist in some small-scale societies. We examined fundamental frequency (F[subscript 0]) production and speech rate in mothers speaking to both infants and adults in three cultures: Fijians, Kenyans, and North Americans. In all three cultures, speakers used higher F0 when speaking to infants relative to when speaking to other adults, and they also used significantly greater F0 variation and fewer syllables per second. Previous research has found that American mothers tend to use higher pitch than do mothers from other cultures, but when maternal education was controlled in the current study, we did not find a significant difference in average pitch across our three populations. This is the first research systematically comparing spontaneous ID and adult-directed speech prosody between Western and traditional societies, and it is consistent with a large body of evidence showing similar acoustic patterns in ID speech across industrialized populations.
Psychology Press. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Fiji; Kenya
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A