Phonological aspects of Arandic baby talk

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Baby Talk (BT), also known as child-directed speech, is a non-standard form of speech used by adults when talking to infants. In Arandic languages BT involves the use of a small set of unique but widely known words, onomatopoeic-derived words, as well as phonological modifications to standard vocabulary. As in neighboring Warlpiri (Laughren 1984), Arandic BT contains a simplified phonology that conflates coronal contrasts and avoids rhotics and consonant clusters. Whilst standard Arandic words are mostly vowel-initial, this weak initial syllable is omitted in BT and the preferred CVCV(C) word structure is achieved through patterns of reduplication and truncation. The BT phonology becomes more complex with the perceived development of the child’s phonological competence, a case of fine-tuning over time.


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