Baby talk may sound kind of weird, but it's actually an awesome evolutionary phenomenon.

A lot of us find baby talk to be very ... weird.

You know, that kind of high-pitched singsong kind of lingo that only seems to occur around small babies or funny-looking dogs? It's totally weird. But we all do it.


"Who-o-o's a good boy? Who is? Who is?"

It just seems to happen, like there's some sort of switch in our brain that turns on and transforms us from articulate human beings into human beings who sound like they swallowed an Auto-Tune machine.

Baby talk isn't limited to a handful of languages, either — it's been observed nearly everywhere — including in English, Arabic, Hindi, and Mandarin-speaking cultures, to name just a few.

A lot of scientists, however, don't find baby talk weird at all. They find it absolutely fascinating.

Language is something we use every day, but it's one of the most interesting puzzles in biology. Figuring out how babies learn to talk can help us understand how our own brains process language and maybe even how language evolved in the first place.

Bonobos, one of our closest evolutionary relatives, may have their own form of baby talk. Photo from Thomas Lohnes/AFP/Getty Images.

Scientists have found that using baby talk might actually help infants learn words faster.

Of course, scientists usually don't call it "baby talk," preferring somewhat more clinical terms like "parentese," "motherese," or "infant-directed speech."

But one study from the University of Washington found that 2-year-olds whose parents regularly had long conversations with their kids in parentese had more than double the vocabulary of kids who got the least exposure to it.

Why? It turns out babies like the singsongy tone of voice that comes with baby talk.

It's not the made-up words, like goo-goo ga-ga; instead, it's that weird tone of voice we use. There's something about that pattern of long, exaggerated sentences ("Helloooo, lil' bay-bee" vs. "Greetings, small infant," or just "Hey", for example) that babies seem to tune in on.

The high-pitched sounds we use when speaking in baby talk appear to be better at keeping babies' attention than when we speak with more normal intonation and inflections.

Those big, grand exaggerations we tend to use in baby talk also help convey emotion better than our normal adult speech.

Imagine trying to learn a new language — when it comes to figuring out which words are happy and which are sad, would you rather talk to Miss Piggy, whose tone of voice always lets you know what she's feeling, or Sam the Eagle, whose voice remains the same no matter what he's talking about?

GIF from "The Muppets."

Scientists also think the repetitive sounds used when speaking in baby talk (think "ma-ma," "da-da," or "choo-choo") might also help cement the words in a baby's brain.

In a recent study from the University of Edinburgh, scientists put 18-month-old kids in a room with a computer screen.

Something like this, anyways...

In each test, they showed each of the kids two unfamiliar objects. One object was given a repeating made-up name, like "nee-nee." The other object's made-up name didn't have a repetitive sound.

When the researchers later tested the kids again, they found the kids were better at remembering the name of the object with the repeated syllable.

So, parents and friends of parents with infants, now that you know this, go ahead and your singsongy baby talk flag fly.

You might feel weird using baby talk or maybe other people think you're weird for doing so — but armed with this knowledge, you can go right ahead and embrace the baby talk. After all, no matter what other people think, you know what you're really doing.

You're helping your kid learn to speak.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

When the COVID-19 pandemic socially distanced the world and pushed off the 2020 Olympics, we knew the games weren't going to be the same. The fact that they're even happening this year is a miracle, but without spectators and the usual hustle and bustle surrounding the events, it definitely feels different.

But it's not just the games themselves that have changed. The coverage of the Olympics has changed as well, including the unexpected addition of un-expert, uncensored commentary from comedian Kevin Hart and rapper Snoop Dogg on NBC's Peacock.

In the topsy-turvy world we're currently living in, it's both a refreshing and hilarious addition to the Olympic lineup.

Just watch this clip of them narrating an equestrian event. (Language warning if you've got kiddos nearby. The first video is bleeped, but the others aren't.)

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