Velike pliskavke so zelo socialne in igrive živali. Vir: Pixabay
Velike pliskavke so zelo socialne in igrive živali. Vir: Pixabay

Dolphin mothers speak “baby talk” to their young

We communicate differently with babies and toddlers than with older people.

We speak in a higher tone and broader tonal range. This means that we quickly switch between higher and lower pitches to get their attention.

We often use a special way of speaking with babies and toddlers. Source: Pixabay
We often use a special way of speaking with babies and toddlers. Source: Pixabay

We often shorten words and abbreviate names, even shorten sentences.

Some primates know baby talk. This communication with babies has also been recorded within greater sac-winged bats and birds called – zebra finches!

An American research group reported that even a species of dolphin, the bottlenose dolphin, talks to its young using baby talk.

Nineteen dolphins were studied near Florida. The scientists focused on their distinctive whistles. Each dolphin has its own distinct whistle – just like humans have their own voice or way of speaking.

The researchers placed special microphones on the dolphins’ heads and monitored them for three decades.

This was how the scientists found out what the dolphin whistles really sound like.

The whistling was louder and in a larger tonal range – just like humans!

Although the whistles weren’t shorter like human baby talk, which consists of shortened words and sentences.

Each large porpoise has its own distinctive way of advertising. Source: Pixabay
Each bottlenose dolphin has its own distinctive way of whistling. Source: Pixabay

Scientists have not yet confirmed the reason why we use baby talk. Some say this way of talking helps toddlers develop their speech.

A large tonal range and variety in speech gets a child’s attention.

It is also not clear why dolphins use it. Perhaps it helps their calves learn to communicate, or maybe it helps them to recognize when their own mother is talking to them versus another dolphin.


Primates are the most evolved mammals – including any mammal of the group that includes lemurs, lorises, tarsiers, monkeys, apes, and humans.

Points to Consider

  1. Do you know baby talk – what are some examples?
  2. Do you remember your parents talking to you in it?
  3. Do you think babies respond to it more often than normal speech?


The original version of this article was published on 13th March.

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Adamič je diplomirana biotehnologinja, ki rada potuje po svetu in približuje znanost najmlajšim.


Svetina is an English translator, EFL educator, and graphic designer. She is an American who has lived in Slovenia since 2008. She loves hiking and traveling with her family.

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