Why are baby words repeated twice? Like “mama” and “dada”. Isn’t it easier for baby to go “ma” or “da”?


Also, linguistically, why is repeating a word make it associated to baby talk? E.g. “No no”, “bye bye”.

In: 1

Repeating something is more likely to make you remember it. Saying a word twice will be more likely for you to learn it, and then try and use that info to make the sound back. Most language is learned like this. Easiest way to learn a new language is watch sesame street or some other shows for little kids, in the language you’re trying to learn. Use subtitles if you need to at first. You will be off the subtitles and we’ll on your way to being conversational rather than fluent fairly quickly.

Disclaimer: just a mom

So I think there’s a few reasons:

1. Babies babble naturally. That babbling is usually a repetition of vowel sounds (from my experience). Once they can pick up a consonant sound (like “d”) I believe it’s much more natural for them to incorporate that into their babbling instead of repeating single sounds. (“Ah ah ah ah” turns into “dah dah dah dah”)

2. Because they babble in strings of sounds, repeating words with more than one syllable probably encourages them to continue babbling after the target words. (Like saying “Dada da dee dee dee buh buh” instead of just “DA!”)

3. I think I read somewhere that it takes the average person 6 repeats to commit something to memory. Even if that’s false, the more you repeat, the easier it is to remember. So “mama” becomes familiar a lot faster than just “ma” would.

4. With talking toddlers, if you ask them to say a new word (like “corn”) but you repeat the first consonant sound (“cuh cuh cuh corn”), they will be much more likely to try to repeat the word than just by hearing it (from my experience). Saying “mama” and “dada” kind of sets up the foundation of that familiarity. Once they’re older, “mama” becomes “muh muh mango”, “mah mah mad”, “muh muh monkey” and so on.

Again this is all just speculation from my limited experience as a mom. Hope it helped or made sense!

Simple for atention

Crying pa, ma, da, ah produce same result,but crying mama produce unique response and thus more entertaining.

Its interesting to watch how 1-2 years old playing with tablets. The don know what are word nor how they pronaunced nor their meaning, but they already percived certain symbols bring funny picktures on screen

Intentionality. Making a single syllable sound intentionally is hard to differentiate from making random noises. Making a two syllable sound consistently requires intentionality.

It has a lot to do with how humans learn to talk.

Babies are listening to voices around them from almost the moment they are born. Once their brains and vocal chords reach the right level of maturity, they start experimenting with making simple sounds. Generally they don’t do this one sound at a time, but “babble” continuously, so something like “ba da ma ca ta ba” etc…

Eventually babies learn that specific patterns of these sounds have particular meanings, so sounds like “da da” or “ma ma” are easy for a babbling baby to latch on to as a “real” word. I’m not sure why repeating the same simple sound twice should be considered meaningful, instead of something like “ma da” or “da ma” which would be equally easy for a baby to learn.

Adults making “baby talk” is an area of research, but it does seem to have some sort of instinctual component rather than just cultural, and there is some limited evidence that it may help babies learn from adults easier, although that isn’t certain (babies are ALWAYS listening to voices, even if they aren’t baby talking).