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BABYLEARN: Role of infant-directed speech in early language development: Insights from Norwegian 6–18-month-old infants

This project is funded by the Research Council of Norway's FRIPRO scheme. 

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About the project

Intuitively, parents use Infant-Directed Speech (IDS) when talking to their infants: they lengthen sounds, exaggerate and vary their voice pitch, and hyper-articulate sounds. Previous research suggests that IDS is universal and parents use it to facilitate early language development in their infants. Yet, a number of limitations in previous research (mostly in English) and the results of recent advanced acoustic analyses of IDS challenge these interpretations.

The current study examines, longitudinally, the acoustic properties of Norwegian IDS and their role in speech sound discrimination, word comprehension and word production in 6 to 18-month-old Norwegian-learning infants. Infants’ language skills will be tested, in an eye-tracking paradigm, at the ages of 6, 9, 12, 15 and 18 months. Norwegian language does vary pitch and lengthening to convey meaning. Would Norwegian-speaking parents emphasize them even more while talking to infants? How does variation in IDS relate to infants’ language skills? Finally, if parents do not exaggerate pitch or hyper-articulate while talking to infants, what other cues facilitate language learning in Norwegian infants?


The project will attempt to answer the above-raised questions and, therefore, represents a unique opportunity to examine, longitudinally, infant-directed speech in Norwegian (so far unstudied) and to assess its role in early language development.


Duration: 01.05.2020-01.03.2024


Research Council of Norway, FRIPRO (Researcher Project for Young Talents) scheme. Funding: 8M NOK (PI: Natalia Kartushina). 


BabyLing Lab (UiO) - Julien Mayor

Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique, Département d’études cognitives, ENS, EHESS, CNRS, PSL University - Alejandrina Cristia


Eye-link eye-tracker

Tags: Multilingual competence, Language Acquisition, Infant-Directed Speech, Psycholinguistics
Published Jan. 24, 2021 4:41 PM - Last modified Nov. 2, 2021 5:51 PM