Infant-directed speech by Dutch fathers: increased pitch variability within and across utterances

Titia Benders*, Jennifer StGeorge, Richard Fletcher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although both fathers and mothers speak differently in infant-directed speech (IDS) compared to adult-directed speech (ADS), the acoustic characteristics of present-day paternal IDS are still insufficiently understood. To extend this understanding, 11 fathers and 17 mothers in The Netherlands were recorded interacting with their infant (260–476 days old; for IDS) and with an adult experimenter (for ADS). Both fathers and mothers were found to raise their average pitch, expand their pitch variability within utterance, and increase their pitch variability across utterances in IDS. Moreover, fathers increased their pitch variability within and across utterances more than mothers. The IDS produced by present-day Dutch-speaking fathers is thus acoustically highly dynamic, in line with fathers’ energetic interaction style.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages34
JournalLanguage Learning and Development
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded in part by a Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research grant awarded to Titia Benders. Thank you to our participants, to Gisela Govaart, Maartje van der Hoeve, Amber Foster, and Shannon Konara for data coding, as well as to Floor Arts for her indirect intellectual contribution through a related project. Thank you to the audiences at the Experimental Psychology Conference held at Melbourne University (2016), the Australian Fatherhood Research Network Symposium at the University of Newcastle (2016), and the International Conference on Infant Studies (2016) for their input to previous versions of the work presented in this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

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