You may have noticed that you, and most adults, tend to speak to babies in a special way – sometimes people call this motherese, although everyone does it, not just mothers.
We find it natural when we’re with babies to speak in a slower, higher pitched and softer tone, and although we might not realise why we’re doing it, it makes it easier for babies to learn the language they are hearing.
Amazingly, we’re not the only species that does this. Recent research has found that baby bats babble too (when they start learning bat song) and mother bats respond in a distinctive way that the researchers think is similar in many ways to motherese.
Even though bats don’t have language, researchers think that this way of learning to produce sounds through interactions with a caregiver may have been one of the building blocks for the evolution of language in humans.
In a forthcoming article we’ll tell you all about how baby orangutangs and chimps laugh when they are tickled, and in fact, even rats do…