Baby Talk

In TV, film, and comics, babies and toddlers tend to communicate in a manner somewhat different to adults.

Baby Talk 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 to goggy) and you'll be able to eliminate whole sound categories by shifting to the nearest comparable sound (e.g., F to P: fan becomes pan). 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 or truck or jug, 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.

Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • In a VISA commercial, a stay-at-home mom has become so accustomed to using this kind of talk with her toddler, that she has forgotten how to speak normally. After she's been dealing with the child all day, when her husband comes home from work, she greets him with a high-pitched, uberhappy, "Is Daddy-waddy home from worky-jerky?"

    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".
  • In the English dub of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Joey weirds his friends out by baby-talking to his Red-Eyes Black Dragon.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.

    Fan Fiction 
  • 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...

    Film 
  • Foofy Wuggums, the lost teddy bear friend from the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends TV movie Good Wilt Hunting. "My wittle giwl weft me hewe when she went to visit hew gwandma."
  • In Horse Feathers, a woman talks baby-talk in an attempt to seduce Professor Wagstaff (Groucho) into showing her the secret football signals, but it only annoys him.
    Wagstaff: If icky girl keep talking that way, big stwong man gonna kick all her teef wight down her thwoat.
  • In How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Andie uses baby talk as one of her methods of annoying Ben enough to break up with her.
  • The Incredibles: Baby Jack-Jack Parr
  • Tangled: Mother Gothel's speech briefly devolves into this in her Villain Song as part of her attempts to keep Rapunzel home with mommy.
  • This was how Rain Man got its title. The director tried find the funniest example of a young child mispronouncing a person's name (Raymond).

     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.
    Britta: 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!"

    Literature 
  • 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:
    It was at the word "hummy", my darlings, that marked the first point in The House At Pooh Corner where Tonstant Weader fwowed up.
  • 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".
  • In The Cat Who... Series, Polly Duncan, the girlfriend of the main character, Qewilleran, tended to talk this way to her Siamese cat Bootsie, much to Qwilleran's chagrin, as he always talked to his own Siamese in an intelligent manner, as if they actually understood what he was saying. (Which, given the Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane nature of the main "mystery-solving cat," Koko, he might actually have.) Eventually, Bootsie was renamed to Brutus and Polly got better about this.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In one comic strip, Garfield encounters a woman who tries this on him. He doesn't react well:
    Garfield: Excuse me while nicey-wicey puddy tat takes a barfy-warfy in the grassy-wassy.
    • In a previous one, John is the culprit...
      John: Would puddy tat wike a bowl of milk?
      Garfield: Would funny-wooking man wike a milk bath? (He asks this while providing it)
      Garfield: (to audience) Never be condescending to a cat.

    Recorded And Stand Up Comedy  
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • Luanne Lui from Backyard Sports. But that's because she's 4 years old.
  • In Marco's storyline in Battle Fantasia, all of his "r"s are written as "w"s ("that's not faiw" instead of "that's not fair").
  • Sonic Generations: If you can't see Tails or Classic Tails, this is the easiest way to distinguish the two. Classic Tails still mixes his Ls, Rs and Ws.
  • Done mockingly very frequently by Hazama/Terumi in the BlazBlue series, particularly notable during one of his Astral quotes:
    Hazama: It's time for a little punishment! I'll let you feel the most exquisite pain! Does it hurt? Doej it huwt?

    Webcomics 

    Web Other 
  • 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".
  • Baby Godzilla and Little Godzilla speak this way in Monster Island Buddies. Averted with the baby versions of the main characters, who speak in chipmunked versions of their own voices.
  • In one VERY NSFW story, a bunny girl gives birth to five hundred bunnies. PER WEEK. Her firstborn, however, turns out to be so cute that she breaks out of character as a heartless bitch and utterly snuggles the baby tigress in baby talk.

    Western Animation 
  • Tweety from Looney Tunes talks like this because he is supposed to be a baby bird.
  • Rugrats. Dil took it even further than the rest of the main characters, being the youngest.
  • Subverted in one episode of The Simpsons where Marge lets Manjula hold Maggie.
    Manjula: (Babbles to Maggie, who giggles)
    Marge: Maggie loves baby talk!
    Manjula: That was Hindi.
    Marge: Oh...
  • Futurama: "It's pwonounced cweam."
  • An old Little Lulu cartoon has the department store floorwalker resort to this in a vain attempt to entice Lulu to buy some toys for her doll.
  • Baby Ponies in G1 of My Little Pony didn't state some words when they talked, and didn't have correct grammar, so we had sentences like "Me try", "Get checkers", and "Maybe play now".
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Applejack begins comforting the apple tree she's delivering in baby talk after Rarity accuses her of treating the tree like her baby.
    • Humourously, Rarity sometimes speaks to her cat like this.
    • In "Secrets of My Excess", Spike is taken to a doctor who speaks to him in Baby Talk. Fitting since he's a baby dragon, but he doesn't find it amusing and promptly breathes fire at the doc.
    • Spike's friends sometimes call him, "Widdew Spikey-Wikey," though. And he doesn't seem to mind at all.
      • Since it's just Rarity that calls him "Spikey-Wikey," and he has a secret crush on her (that everyone knows about) she is probably the only one he'll allow to talk to him like that. Then again, he'd allow her to do amost anything she wants to him, he's that smitten.
    • Pinkie resorts to doing this with Mr. & Mrs. Cake's twin foals. However, considering that said foals are only a month old, it's justified.
    • Cheerilee and Big Macintosh speak to each other in this manner in the Hearts and Hooves Day episode as a result of the "love potion" the Cutie Mark Crusaders had given them. They continue to speak this way at the end of the episode (after the love potion had worn off) to torment the CMC as part of their punishment.
    • In the episode "Apple Family Reunion", there is a flashback of Applejack when she was just a baby. And it's adorable. See it here.
  • When a challenge on Total Drama involves carrying napping babies through sound-sensitive areas, Max (the self-proclaimed EVIL mastermind) baby talks to his infant throughout the whole challenge. What's even more funny is he mixes this sappy baby talk with his usual EVIL schtick. (It's surprisingly effective too.)
    Max - "Reunited with my widdle evil babby-wabby~!"
  • Stewie Griffin on Family Guy averts this trope by being - to us - over-articulate and a (warped) child genius. But it is implied, especially by the adults around him who treat him like a fractious toddler and baby-talk him, that all they can hear is baby-noise and the tantrums of a typical "Terrible Two". Lois never hears or responds to his blood-curdling threats of matricidal violence, for instance, and carries on baby-talking him as if nothing out of the ordinary is happening.
  • Taffy from Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels will often talk like this to Captain Caveman when she wants him to do a favor for her, when that doesn't work a kiss from her usually will.
    Taffy: Would Cavey Wavey do Taffy Waffy a widdle favey wavy?