Parentese and Motherese

A Guide to Web Resources


Aban Irani, Liz Gianulis, Kim Mercer

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, EdPsy 313, Fall 2001, (Gary Cziko, instructor)



"Motherese" Helps Babies Learn From Parents
This website offers helpful steps in initiating and maintaining motherese/parentese with your children. It links to the "Sound Beginnings" website that offers other information about the importance of talking to babies and toddlers.

Motherese, basic information
This website offers basic dictionary definitions of motherese, parentese, fatherese, among other related terms. It would be very useful in writing a paper that needs documentation about motherese.

This article tries to distinguish baby-talk from motherese, while maintaining that baby-talk is a subset of motherese. It also has information focusing on the father’s role in baby-talk.

Language Learning at Home, in Community, and among Minority Children
This Eric Digest reviews Heath's book "Ways with words," suggesting that children learn language, be it spoken or written, through the process of socializing in the specific society they are in.

What is Motherese and what are the characteristics of Motherese when used by Deaf and hearing parents?
A synthetic introduction of motherese. It also compares hearing parents' motherese to deaf parents' motherese.

Learning to talk
This website designed especially for parents encourages parents to constantly engage their children in conversation. It also talks about baby talk

This article talks about what motherese is and how this form of speech is much different from speech that is directed toward another adult or older child. It also talks about how motherese has special acoustic properties, which may be appealing to the infant. It further talks about the skepticism has arisen over the significance of motherese in language acquisition and whether or not motherese is really necessary to language acquisition.


This article talks about how parents speak to babies differently than they speak to adults, this is about child-directed speech which is also called as motherese. It also talks about the idea that speaking motherese must be innate. Finally it discusses the notion if motherese is necessary or not for language development in a child

Toddler Developmentally Delayed in Speech
At this website questions related to speech delays could be posted for the SLP specialist to give her guidance and expertise on. Parents were encouraged to utilize the natural ‘motherese’. Few examples of expanding on the child’s utterance of one word were also mentioned. Pragmatics and repetition skills were also mentioned.

Help Your Baby Learn to Talk
This article talks about what Parentese is and how parents have to relax as this is comes naturally and how this is an important step for the child to develop his or her language.

The relationship between motherese and Language Acquisition
This article is about correlation between use of motherese and language development and also the correlation between things like the syntactic modifications of an adult and syntactic development in a child. It also talks about the success and failure of motherese and the two functions of motherese.


Motherese or Parentese - Gale Ency. of Child. and Adol.
Learn about the importance of this pattern of speaking used by a caretaker when talking to an infant. This site defines and characterizes motherese. The site does say that it is not essential for the child to learn how to communicate, but it does have positive effects on encouraging communication.

TV education: motherese
Motherese in Children's Programs Educational programs that aid in language acquisition contain dialogue that resembles the way a mother talks to her child. Simple sentences, frequent repetition, emphasis on the present, a slow rate of speech and an

This site is about educational programs that aid in language acquisition. It mentions Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood are programs that aid children in learning to communicate. In addition, the site also states that there is no evidence that programs that are not aimed towards children will help language acquisition. The passage goes to say that children’s cartoons do not contain the tools needed to teach communication skills. There are links to research abstracts and one of the articles states, "Viewing Sesame Street at ages 3-3.5 has a positive effect on vocabulary scores two years later." There are also links to the educational effect of television.

This site offers strategies and techniques to facilitate communication in young children. Some examples from the site include exaggerating prosodic cues, echoing, expansion, and recasting. There is also information on workshops offered to instruct these strategies.

Speech development and milestones - 0 to 3 months
There is information on the typical development of a child from the stages 0-3 months and 4-6 months. After the explanation of each stage warning signs and activities for the child are also given. I find this section particularly important for parents who are questioning their child’s communication. Furthermore, the passage concludes that if you have concerns to contact a speech pathologist and the child’s doctor.



Aban Irani — Most of the sites related to Parentese and Motherese were focused on informing parents and caregivers the importance of these techniques. The way it impacted me was that it made me aware of the importance of it and how it helps children to acquire proper language and to increase their language skills from all angles.  

Liz Gianulis- Parentese is a natural act that has been going on for many years. After finding that using parentese will increase the child’s communication parents may become motivated to use it more frequently, and become more conscience of their interactions with their child. I thought the web sites had great information to offer to parents or teachers. Parents can look up specific techniques to help the growth of communication, and they look at typical child development.

Kim Mercer- I never quite realized the amount of information available for the topic of mother/parentese, but it is really quite extensive. In all the sites we used, a common theme was the utter importance of immersing children in language starting as infants. I also found it interesting that parentese spanned cultures, languages, and generations. This was my first experience in developing a webpage. While at times I found it frustrating, it was an overall interesting experience.