Speech production across situations and dialects

Infant-directed speech across development

We measure how people speak and how they speech differs depending on who they are talking to. In one of our studies, we analysed the speech of pregnant women and compared how they speak to an adult and to their unborn baby. Our analysis of vocalic sounds and voice quality showed that pregnant women address their unborn babies in a distinct speech style. Our work was the first one to report evidence for prenatal infant-directed speech (where infant-directed speech is well-known as a way in which people typically address young children).

Our second speech production study traces infant-directed speech across babies’ first year of life. We focus on the way parents produce various speech sounds contrasts and analyse whether they exaggerate various contrasts at various stages in their baby’s development (perhaps exaggerating exactly those speech sounds that their baby is currently learning). We have recorded the speech of about 60 mothers and 20 fathers when playing with their baby, as well as when speaking to another adult. So far, we have analysed and reported findings on vowels in Czech spontaneous adult-directed speech, which provide a thorough description of present-day Czech spoken in central Bohemia. Analyses of infant-directed speech across parent sexes and infant ages are underway.