Baby talk, motherese, parentese, caretaker, or child-directed speech (CDS) is a nonstandard form of speech used by adults, particularly mothers, in talking to children. It is usually delivered with a "cooing" pattern of inflection which is different from normal adult speech: high in pitch, and with many glissando-like rises and falls in pitch which are exaggerated by comparison with normal speech. Baby talk is also used by pet owners when talking to their pets, and between adults as a form of affectionate intimacy.

1."Baby talk" is a long-established and universally understood traditional term.
2."Motherese" is a term, more precise than "baby talk," which is very amenable to computer searches. The word motherese is disliked by child development professionals (and by critics of gender stereotyping) because all caregivers, not just mothers, use distinct speech patterns and vocabulary when talking to young children. Alternatives such as parentese have not caught on.
3.Child-directed speech or CDS is the term preferred by researchers, psychologists, and child development professionals.

Researchers such as Rima Shore (1997) believe that baby talk is an important part of the emotional bonding process, and contributes to mental development. It plays a role in teaching the child the basic function and structure of language. Studies have shown that even replying to babble with meaningless babble aids language acquisition, because even though the babble itself conveys no logical meaning, the interaction teaches infants that speech is bidirectional communication. Some experts advise that parents should not talk to infants and young children solely in baby talk, but include some normal adult speech as well.

Other researchers have pointed out that "motherese" is not universal among the world's cultures, and that its role in "helping children learn grammar" has been overestimated. In some societies (such as certain Samoan tribes; see first reference) adults do not speak to their children at all until they have reached a certain age. In others, it is more usual to speak to children as one would speak to anyone else, with some vocabulary simplifications. Furthermore, even where baby-talk is used, it is full of complicated grammatical constructs, mispronounced or non-existent words, and tends to refer only to objects and events in the immediate vincinity. Baby-talk often has the parent repeating the child's utterances back to him/her, and since children employ a wide variety of phonological simplifications in learning to speak, this results in "classic" baby-words like "na-na" for "grandmother" or "din-din" for "dinner", where the child has seized on a stressed syllable of the input and then repeated it to make a word.

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