Mothers speak less clearly to infants than to adults: a comprehensive test of the hyperarticulation hypothesis.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Infants learn language at an incredible speed, and one of the first steps in this voyage is learning the basic sound units of their native languages. It is widely thought that caregivers facilitate this task by hyperarticulating when speaking to their infants. Using state-of-the-art speech technology, we addressed this key theoretical question: Are sound categories clearer in infant-directed speech than in adult-directed speech? A comprehensive examination of sound contrasts in a large corpus of recorded, spontaneous Japanese speech demonstrates that there is a small but significant tendency for contrasts in infant-directed speech to be less clear than those in adult-directed speech. This finding runs contrary to the idea that caregivers actively enhance phonetic categories in infant-directed speech. These results suggest that to be plausible, theories of infants' language acquisition must posit an ability to learn from noisy data.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Martin, A; Schatz, T; Versteegh, M; Miyazawa, K; Mazuka, R; Dupoux, E; Cristia, A

Published Date

  • March 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 26 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 341 - 347

PubMed ID

  • 25630443

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1467-9280

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0956-7976

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0956797614562453


  • eng