5th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Sydney, Australia
November 30 - December 4, 1998

Are You My Little Pussy-Cat? Acoustic, Phonetic And Affective Qualities Of Infant- And Pet-Directed Speech

Denis Burnham (1), Elizabeth Francis (2), Ute Vollmer-Conna (2), Christine Kitamura (2), Vicky Averkiou (2), Amanda Olley (2), Mary Nguyen (2), Cal Paterson (2)

(1) University of NSW / University of Western Sydney Macarthur, Australia
(2) University of NSW, Australia

It has been suggested that infant-directed speech (IDS) is a special speech register conducive to gaining infants' attention, eliciting and expressing affect, and teaching infants about the phonology of the ambient language. Certain similarities have been observed between IDS and pet-directed speech (PDS), but until now these have not been systematically studied. In this study IDS, PDS, and adult directed speech (ADS) are compared on acoustic, phonetic, and affective measures. It has been suggested that IDS should be more tuned to a linguistic didactic function than PDS, but that the two should be similar acoustically and affectively. The results show that IDS and PDS are generally different from ADS, but that IDS and PDS do not differ substantially, either acoustically, or phonetically. As the expected difference between IDS and PDS was not obtained, it could be suggested that dependent variables thought to measure the functions of special speech registers may not necessarily do so unequivocally.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Burnham, Denis / Francis, Elizabeth / Vollmer-Conna, Ute / Kitamura, Christine / Averkiou, Vicky / Olley, Amanda / Nguyen, Mary / Paterson, Cal (1998): "Are you my little pussy-cat? acoustic, phonetic and affective qualities of infant- and pet-directed speech", In ICSLP-1998, paper 0916.