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Higher pitch in BT is not universal: acoustic evidence from Quiche Mayan*

  • Nan Bernstein Ratner (a1) and Clifton Pye (a2)
Abstract

Although higher pitch has been described as a universal feature of babytalk (BT) registers worldwide, analysis of a sample of three Quiche Mayan-speaking mothers addressing their infant children indicated that their BT register does not utilize this feature. Quiche mothers either make no pitch distinction in speech to young children, or actually lower pitch slightly in comparison with their Adult–Adult interaction style. A comparison group of American mothers raised pitch 35–70 Hz when addressing infants of the same age and language maturity. We posit that pitch-raising strategies may be sociolinguistically determined and may serve different functions across languages.

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Journal of Child Language
  • ISSN: 0305-0009
  • EISSN: 1469-7602
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-child-language
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