Babbling and motherese

Over the past few days I’ve been observing, and to some extent participating, in my niece’s language acquisition. She is 8 months old and babbles a lot to herself and to others. Some of her babbling can sound like possible words, like dada, but they don’t seem to be associated with anything yet. She is also starting to direct her attention at various things, and especially at people, who she charms with her smiles.

From her mother (my sister-in-law) she is getting mainly Russian, and from her father (my brother) she is getting English. When I first heard her mother talking to her in Russian I didn’t understand much, but when I listened more closely I realised that the same phrases where coming up frequently – as with motherese or Child Directed Speech generally. Two phrases I understood where Что ты хочешь? (What do you want?) and Всё (all, everything). There are also a lot of terms of affection, which in Russian are often diminutives like котёнок (kitten).

I found more examples of Russian motherese on:

Всё seems to be quite a useful word which appears in various phrsaes:

– вот и всё, это всё = that’s all
– чаще всего = most often
– мне всё равно = it’s all the same to me
– всё там же = still there
– всё же = all the same
– всё ещё = still
– а всё-таки = all the same, nevertheless

One thought on “Babbling and motherese

  1. My niece is slightly younger (7 mths), and has not yet started to babble in syllables. But she’s very fond of her voiced uvular trills. Over Christmas, she learned how to clap.

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