Speaker: Vera Kempe (Abertay University)
Title: Is Child-Directed Speech Tailored to Aid Language Development?
Abstract: Because child-directed speech seems ubiquitous in certain cultures and because there is a positive association between language input and learning outcomes it has often been concluded that one function of child-directed speech is to aid children’s language development. I will address the logical fallacy behind this reasoning and report results of a scoping review of the research literature on child-directed speech that examined whether the existing evidence supports this conclusion. It shows that the limited evidence for this claim is confined to some very specific linguistic domains and learning tasks. Most research linking features of children’s language input to learning outcomes turns out to be agnostic about whether these features are exaggerated in child-directed speech. I will end by discussing how different mechanisms that may drive the production of child-directed speech can account for cultural diversity in its implementation.