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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.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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