Baby talk starts at an early age when a child wants to express himself. It is a situation where the child speaks by closely imitating an adult; this is a way of sending messages about his feelings. The message might not be clear to an adult but for the baby that is his first step towards language development. The most important issue in baby talk is that the child is trying to speak. To enhance language development, the exchange of words between an adult and the baby is important. To further understand the communication between the two, I have documented observations from a 2 year old boy who is a native African. The boy spends most of his time with the mother in an urban home setting. In a typical urban family setting, the family is small with two other children and the father. Mothers are the primary caregivers whom stay home to take care of the children while the father spends most of the time at work. Weekends are meant for family bonding where all children interact with parents. The house is located in a secluded part of the town with fewer interactions with neighbors. Other family members considered to be significant in the child’s development are the grandparent who visits once in a while. Both the grandparents assist in taking care of the child while the mother is away for other family commitments. The two siblings are considered important in language development. When playing with the boy their interaction is imitated by this boy. Although there are different variations of baby talk from different regions I will be presenting a normal African setting which English is the predominant language.
While analyzing the child’s speech I have categorized them in terms of how the child identifies body parts and function, the basic qualities, his kin and other nicknames he uses. Others include how he identifies familiar objects and actions lastly how he expresses exclamation and noises. In communicating about body parts , the child uses repetitive words for emphasis of what he want for example he calls food – yum yum, the feeding bottle is referred to as dede while to defecate is poo poo. To urinate the child says susu. When he wants to eat he says didi .
His speech is altered with words that are reduplicated or some words that miss some syllables making no sense to an adult. But to the child it means something .For example water is referred to as wah, sleep is referred to as nene. These are words derived from adults but are modified according to the child’s understanding.
In identifying basic qualities the child speech is more derivate with allot of and reduplication to find meaning, for example a bruise is referred to as owie; anything not pleasant is called icky. Love is called wui. Some of his speech can be categorized to be diminutive as he tries to express quantity of what he wants. He uses opsi for something small and also refers to something good as be be .at times the child uses just one letter to indicate quantity for example the letter f can mean little. When the child wants to identify with his kin he uses nicknames that can be categorized as onomatopoeia. These are words similar to derivation and reduplication categories when classifying baby talk. Words are deleted and replicated to form different word like father becomes, baba, mother , mama , both grandparents are called nana and sister sisi .Brother is called bubbi. Any small child is called toto .
When the child identifies familiar objects and creatures the child speech can be categorized as reduplication and derivation because most words are not related to the adult speech. Some letters are deleted to derive a different meaning for example a cat is called kiki. A dog is called wao wao .the child calls his toys bu bu .
For familiar actions the baby speech can be categorized as derivation and reduplication because t words are replaced and other syllable deleted to form the child’s world compared to the adult speech. For example come here he would say juju, when he wants to be carried up he says oppi , When he wants to reach out for something he says wi wi, bring-beda, give – mi , go out – gogo . This child’s speech is full of repetition to show emphasis of what the child wants. For exclamation the child speeches are closely reduplicated and derivates especially on producing noise to scare like bu, and uses be quiet as f which is a deprived speech.
With the above demonstration of words it is evident that the child is too young to comprehend adult speeches to form meaningful phonic sounds. Most of his speeches are derivate and reduplicated. Meaning that in his world he can communicate back by only forming adult speech into what he can easily pronounce. At this stage the child has minimal knowledge on quantity because when he wants to express little he only pronounces the word f. children at 2 years has a common pattern of communication which is altered adult speech to form their own way of communication that is short . The speech uses lesser words as compared to the adult speech. The speeches also are repeated accompanied by actions towards what he wants. The speech pattern I observed is that the child cannot form full sentences but instead uses short words that are sometimes closely related to an adults’ speech.
This child is not familiar with sounds at his age. He does not use sound relate words as compared to repeated word and reduplicated words. I see a child who is trying to improve on his language by communicating with others according to his level of understanding. The child cannot easily get the exact phonic sounds but struggles to relay information which mostly are accompanied by actions to aid communication. In my understanding when he repeats the same words twice, he is struggling to get the attention of the person figure out what he wants. This is because he cannot fully pronounce the words but he can pick similar letters found within the word when communicating.
This child speech observation is an example of how a child’s speech is altered. The child utters words in relation to what the adult is saying .the alteration comes because how he views items or objects. The child also alters his speech in relation to his understanding of the situation he is experiencing .This example illustrates a general pattern exhibited by children of this age which is similar. In conclusion baby talk is more of what the words are as compared to the number of words us
Jones, L (1986). East Cree Baby Talk. Papers of the 17th Algonquian conference. Ottawa. Carlton University.