Maternal speech to infants of 2 ages in 4 cultures was examined to probe how infant age and cultural variation influence the contents of that speech. Argentine, French, Japanese, and U.S. American mothers were individually videotaped in naturalistic free-play interactions at home with their 5- and 13-month-old infants, maternal speech was transcribed, and the contents classified as affect salient or information salient. Mothers in the 4 cultures use all speech categories to young infants, speak to older infants more than to younger infants, but differ in the emphasis of their speech. Similarities speak to the universality of maternal speech to infants, provoked perhaps by infants' common psychological status; differences in the speech mothers choose to emphasize speak perhaps to the expression of cultural preferences.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies