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The pear story project: Comparing speech to children with speech to adults

In many Western cultures, speech directed to children has been shown to differ consistently from speech to adults. These differences may have an impact on the way a child learns the language. So what is the situation like for Qaqet? We have used the pear story experiment to answer this question.


We asked adults in Raunsepna to watch the pear film and to then retell it either to another adult or to one of their children. These sessions were videotaped, transcribed and translated into Tok Pisin with people from the community. Watch and listen to two examples of recordings we obtained:



Analysing the data

Watching the two videos above, it is obvious that something is different: E.g., the speaker needs a lot more time to tell the “fruit picking” and “putting fruits into baskets” scenes to her son than to her husband.

All of this is typical for conversation with young children and very different from talking to adults.


In the pear story project, 10 video pairs like the one above have been collected, annotated and are currently being analysed. Soon, the outcomes will tell us more about Qaqet child-directed speech and its differences from speech directed at adults.