In TV, film, and comics, babies and toddlers tend to communicate in a manner somewhat different to adults.
has several common tendencies, some reminiscent of Pidgin Language
Adults may communicate this way if they are in the Cuteness Proximity
that babies, toddlers, kittens, and puppies create. Odds are, only one half of a conversation between a baby and an adult will be in Baby Talk
. Which half depends on the tone of the work. In a bit of visual dissonance, a Fluffy Tamer
might do this to an animal that most would consider anything but cute
A variant is a sexy woman using such language to sound seductive ("Is Daddy feeling angwy? Maybe him need Baby to kiss it aww better"). This has not been used in some time
because it no longer sounds sexy.
To most people anyway.
Another variant is someone using baby talk to mock another character's perceived immaturity—which generally ends up making the mocker sound even more immature than their target. And can backfire. Badly.
Want to duplicate the effect more naturally? Study linguistics (phonemes
, the sounds of language): You'll become aware of which sounds we make and how they're related. Soon you'll know to simplify words by repeating sounds (doggy
) and you'll be able to eliminate whole sound categories by shifting to the nearest comparable sound (e.g., F to P: fan
). Also helps when you're trying to emulate a stuffy nose (M to B, N to D: by doze is stuffed
) or other speech impediments.
And if you're concerned because your kid can't say th
at five, don't be. Kids develop sounds at their own rate and don't need speech therapy unless there's a physical
reason for the difficulty. And just because he can't say
the words doesn't mean he can't understand them—his guck
might mean duck
, but if you
use the wrong one, he'll certainly let you know.
Not to be confused with Baby Language
, which gives pre-language babies the same treatment as Animal Talk
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Anime and Manga
- The English-language translation of Baby and Me has the toddler Minoru speaking in this manner. "Bwaza!" for "Brother" is practically his catchphrase.
- Suzie Wong of Digimon Tamers talked this way. Such examples include Terriermon as "Tewwiermon," training as "twaining," and referring to Rika as "Wika". To be fair, she seemed to have a slight form of this in the Japanese version too.
- The titular kitten in Chi's Sweet Home. The author calls it 'Chi-go' (Chi-language).
- In Axis Powers Hetalia, little America would pronounce "Igirisu" (England) as "Igirichu". Scanlators render this as "Engwand".
- Hina in Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai! ("Listen To Me Girls, I'm Your Father!") does this. Justified as she's only 3 years old, and adorably cute.
- All the toddlers in Gakuen Babysitters have this to varying degrees, though Kirin's is the most prominent. In an attempt at Woolseyism, all the translators so far have translated this into the Elmuh Fudd Syndwome.
- Akachanman, a baby superhero in Anpanman talks like this. He says "dechu" instead of "desu".
- ElfQuest's Preservers talk in a very irritating babyish way, but are possibly smarter than they sound (they could hardly be stupider).
- Quite a few Superbaby strips.
- The Beano: Dennis the Menace's sister Bea.
- A metric buttload of Harry Potter fan fiction portrays Dobby and other house elves as talking like this (Kreacher is an exception, for some reason). Why this occurs is an utter mystery given that, in the books and the movies, house elves speak perfectly good English pretty much all the time. Oh sure, Dobby has pronoun trouble, and can't pronounce "Weasley", but he doesn't talk in baby talk.
- Sally Sparrow and Beth Lestrade do this with Sally's baby in Children Of Time. Of course, the Doctor actually understands Baby, so no problems there...
Live Action TV
- An episode of Sex and the City featured Samantha being completely repulsed by a grown man who uses baby talk while having sex with her. "Gah, it's like putting ketchup on prime rib. Stop, you're ruining it!"
- This gradually happens to Lily in HIMYM's episode Not A Father's Day, when she finds a baby sock:
Robin: What's that?
Lily: It's Jeremy's sock... I'm having a baby!
Robin: But... but what about "Project Lily"?
Lily: But... but sohck!!
Robin: But what about Marshall working all the time?
Lily: But xohck!!
Robin: Ted and I gave you all these arguments and a sock is what decides it?
Lily: Wittwe fixiehs ohn iht!!
- Sesame Street's Cookie Monster's speech includes phrases like "Me want cookie!"
- A more egregious offender is Baby Bear, who truly speaks in baby talk. Cookie Monster's speech sounds more like You No Take Cookie.
- Most famously, Elmo. ("Elmo ask Dorothy what on her mind!")
- In a cold open of The Office it is brought to Andy's attention that many of the other employees are annoyed by his constant baby talk, which offends him.
- In 30 Rock Jenna complains about another character using "sexy baby" talk, complaining that she invented it. Cut to her coming out with the incomprehensible noises babies use before they learn to speak.
- Also used when Jack discovers that his rival Devon Banks has leaked some sensitive information to the media.
Devon: (childishly): Awww, looks like somebody weaked it.
Jack: You did! You weaked it!
- In the Community Glee parody episode/Christmas Episode "Regional Holiday Music", Annie, who is usually a very intelligent and competent person, sings a song to lure Jeff into the cult-like glee club, which was a parody of how Glee sexualizes young girls and the way Christmas songs treat women, (e.g. Santa Baby). Annie is wearing a Sexy Santa Dress and sings about wanting Jeff to teach her how to understand Christmas, with it, by the last verse, morphing into baby talk.
Annie: Bwain huwty undewstandy chwistmas, mistletoe for eaty taste good? You smarty, me dumb, help pwetty have fun, boopy doopy doop boop sex.
Jeff: Look, eventually you hit a point of diminishing returns on the sexiness.
Annie: What's a diminiwawawa?
- A milder example occurs in Cooperative Calligraphy, when the study group spends the whole episode locked in the study room because Annie's pen has disappeared, and she's convinced that someone in the group has stolen it and refuses to let anyone leave until whoever stole it fesses up. At one point, Annie hits Britta's Berserk Button by asking to have a quick "look-see" in her bag.
There's no such thing as a "quick" invasion of civil liberties. Oh, it all starts with a quick look-see into someone's bag, and then it's a brisk peek a-roony at our phone records, and before you can say 1984
, the Thought Police are forcy-worcing you to bend and spread!
- Star Trek: The Original Series had an example in "Friday's Child", which perplexes Spock:
McCoy, holding a newborn baby: Oochie-coochie-coochie-coo! Oochie-coochie-coochie-coo!
Spock: "Oochie-coochie-coochie-coo," Captain?
Kirk: An obscure Earth dialect, Mr. Spock. If you're still confused, consult Linguistics.
- "...And you're my outlet Michele. ... Big boy walking!"
- At the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Bellatrix Lestrange speaks like this to mock the main character.
- She also does it to taunt Neville Longbottom - whose parents she tortured to insanity, likely in front of him, when he was a year old and probably speaking baby talk.
- Redwall's "Dibbuns" (baby animals) are prone to this. When combined with molespeech the results are really bizarre.
- Satirized in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Sunny Baudelaire is a surprisingly intelligent baby, but still only a baby, so she speaks in baby talk. People who know her well can apparently fully understand what she is saying, but every one of her baby talk words is translated into a well thought-out sentence for the convenience of the reader.
- And she speaks in nonsense words (translated into perfectly articulate English), which often reference something relevant to what she's actually saying, rather than the usual distorted English. Sunny's almost more of a Strange Syntax Speaker, particularly in the later books.
- In To Say Nothing of the Dog, Tossie talks this way to her cat, Princess Arjumand (AKA "Dearum Dearum Juju")
- Lola Pratt in Seventeen by Booth Tarkington.
- Anne of L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series, was firm in the idea that baby talk should never be spoken to her children; she had read a parenting book that said baby talk was an improper way for children to learn language. This goes right out the window the minute her son, Jem, is born, much to her husband Gilbert's amusement. When he calls her on it, she has this to say about the author of the parenting book:
Anne: He never had any children of his own, Gilbert—I am positive he hadn't or he would never have written such rubbish. You just can't help talking baby talk to a baby. It comes natural—and it's RIGHT. It would be inhuman to talk to those tiny, soft, velvety little creatures as we do to great big boys and girls. Babies want love and cuddling and all the sweet baby talk they can get, and Little Jem is going to have it, bless his dear itty heartums.
- Their youngest daughter, Rilla, had a lisp as a child. In her book, "Rilla of Ingleside", she relates how hard she worked to get rid of it, and how embarassed she is that it still comes out when she is nervous. When her childhood friend Kenneth Ford proposes to her at the end of the book, she answers with "Yesth".
- Dorothy Parker, who wrote a book review column called "The Constant Reader" truly loathed A. A. Milne's work. In her review savaging The House at Pooh Corner she used baby talk:
- The "jellicle cats" in Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, later adapted into Cats, were named for T. S. Eliot's niece attempting to say "dear little cat."
- Every single one of Louisa May Alcott's juveniles has an instance of phonetically rendered Baby Talk:
- The opening chapter of Little Women ends with a flashback to the March sisters as small children, gathered around Marmee at the piano, singing "Crinkle, crinkle, 'ittle 'tar".
- As soon as Meg March Brooke's children show up the book is laden with their adorable incomprehensibility, including little Demi's attempt to lift Daisy in an improvised "lellywaiter".
- One character in the sequel, Little Men, is moved to religion by overhearing a small child's bedtime prayer of "Pease Dod bess everybody, and hep me to be dood".
- A child in Jack and Jill says his nighttime prayers for fear of being a "heevin" and being "frowed to the trockindiles".
Recorded And Stand Up Comed
- Red Skelton's character of Junior, "the mean widdle kid"...who actually dates back to Skelton's radio show.
- Josh Blue has a variation on this. People talk to him like he's mentally challenged when he's just got cerebral palsy.
I get people saying stuff like, "Hiiiiiii...Buuuuuddyyyyyyy
...How...are...youuu?" You know what I say to these people? "IIIIIIIIII...need to get LAAAAID!
" And that seems to throw them for a loop.
- Fluffy ponies have this sort of speech, to the point it's practically a language due to their different terms for some things. For example, a leader of a feral herd of fluffies is a "Smarty Friend", a mate is a "Special Friend", sex is oddly (yet fittingly) referred to as "Special huggies", and more. They also talk with a speech impediment, so the already altered term for a herd member now comes out as "Smawty fwiend". This is more prominent in a variant of the Fluffy pony derpy hooves, who's speech is literally just friend, and is even more impediment, making it "fbwend".