The varieties of speech to young children

Dev Psychol. 2007 Sep;43(5):1062-83. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.43.5.1062.


This article examines caregiver speech to young children. The authors obtained several measures of the speech used to children during early language development (14-30 months). For all measures, they found substantial variation across individuals and subgroups. Speech patterns vary with caregiver education, and the differences are maintained over time. While there are distinct levels of complexity for different caregivers, there is a common pattern of increase across age within the range that characterizes each educational group. Thus, caregiver speech exhibits both long-standing patterns of linguistic behavior and adjustment for the interlocutor. This information about the variability of speech by individual caregivers provides a framework for systematic study of the role of input in language acquisition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Chicago
  • Child, Preschool
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Infant
  • Language Development*
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Speech*
  • Verbal Behavior*
  • Vocabulary*