What do Babies hear? Analyses of Child- and Adult-Directed Speech

Casillas, M., Amatuni, A., Seidl, A., Soderstrom, M., Warlaumont, A., & Bergelson, E. (2017). What do Babies hear? Analyses of Child- and Adult-Directed Speech. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2017 (pp. 2093-2097). doi:10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1409.
Child-directed speech is argued to facilitate language development, and is found cross-linguistically and cross-culturally to varying degrees. However, previous research has generally focused on short samples of child-caregiver interaction, often in the lab or with experimenters present. We test the generalizability of this phenomenon with an initial descriptive analysis of the speech heard by young children in a large, unique collection of naturalistic, daylong home recordings. Trained annotators coded automatically-detected adult speech 'utterances' from 61 homes across 4 North American cities, gathered from children (age 2-24 months) wearing audio recorders during a typical day. Coders marked the speaker gender (male/female) and intended addressee (child/adult), yielding 10,886 addressee and gender tags from 2,523 minutes of audio (cf. HB-CHAAC Interspeech ComParE challenge; Schuller et al., in press). Automated speaker-diarization (LENA) incorrectly gender-tagged 30% of male adult utterances, compared to manually-coded consensus. Furthermore, we find effects of SES and gender on child-directed and overall speech, increasing child-directed speech with child age, and interactions of speaker gender, child gender, and child age: female caretakers increased their child-directed speech more with age than male caretakers did, but only for male infants. Implications for language acquisition and existing classification algorithms are discussed.
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