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In TV, film, and comics, babies and toddlers tend to communicate in a manner somewhat different to adults.
Baby Talk has several common tendencies, some reminiscent of Pidgin Language:
- Misuse of pronouns (e.g. me instead of I), or not using pronouns at all
- Lack words such as "a" and "the"
- Pronunciation of the letters "L" and "R" as "W"
- Big words becoming shorter, different words which sound similar
Adults may communicate this way if they are in the Cuteness Proximity babies, toddlers, kittens, and puppies create. Odds are, only one half of a conversation between a baby and an adult will be in Baby Talk. Which half depends on the tone of the work. In a bit of visual dissonance, a Fluffy Tamer might do this to an animal that most would consider anything but cute.
A variant is a sexy woman using such language to sound seductive ("Is Daddy feeling angwy? Maybe him need Baby to kiss it aww better"). This has not been used in some time because it no longer sounds sexy.
Another variant is someone using baby talk to mock another character's perceived immaturity—which generally ends up making the mocker sound even more immature than their target. And can backfire. Badly.
Want to duplicate the effect more naturally? Study linguistics (phonemes, the sounds of language): You'll become aware of which sounds we make and how they're related. Soon you'll know to simplify words by repeating sounds (doggy to goggy) and you'll be able to eliminate whole sound categories by shifting to the nearest comparable sound (e.g., F to P: fan becomes pan). Also helps when you're trying to emulate a stuffy nose (M to B, N to D: by doze is stuffed) or other speech impediments.
And if you're concerned because your kid can't say th at five, don't be. Kids develop sounds at their own rate and don't need speech therapy unless there's a physical reason for the difficulty. And just because he can't say the words doesn't mean he can't understand them—his guck might mean duck or truck or jug, but if you use the wrong one, he'll certainly let you know.
Anime and Manga
- The English-language translation of Baby and Me has the toddler Minoru speaking in this manner. "Bwaza!" for "Brother" is practically his catchphrase.
- Suzie Wong of Digimon Tamers talked this way. Such examples include Terriermon as "Tewwiermon," training as "twaining," and referring to Rika as "Wika". To be fair, she seemed to have a slight form of this in the Japanese version too.
- The titular kitten in Chi's Sweet Home. The author calls it 'Chi-go' (Chi-language).
- In Axis Powers Hetalia, little America would pronounce "Igirisu" (England) as "Igirichu". Scanlators render this as "Engwand".
- Hina in Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai ("Listen To Me Girls, I'm Your Father!") does this. Justified as she's only 3 years old, and adorably cute.
- Elf Quest's Preservers talk in a very irritating babyish way, but are possibly smarter than they sound (they could hardly be stupider).
- Quite a few Superbaby strips.
- The Beano: Dennis the Menace's sister Bea.
- Foofy Wuggums, the lost teddy bear friend from the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends TV movie Good Wilt Hunting. "My wittle giwl weft me hewe when she went to visit hew gwandma."
- In Horse Feathers, a woman talks baby-talk in an attempt to seduce Professor Wagstaff (Groucho) into showing her the secret football signals, but it only annoys him.
Wagstaff: If icky girl keep talking that way, big stwong man gonna kick all her teef wight down her thwoat.
- In How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Andie uses baby talk as one of her methods of annoying Ben enough to break up with her.
- The Incredibles: Baby Jack-Jack Parr
Live Action TV
- An episode of Sex and the City featured Samantha being completely repulsed by a grown man who uses baby talk while having sex with her. "Gah, it's like putting ketchup on prime rib. Stop, you're ruining it!"
- This gradualy happens to Lily in HIMYM's episode Not A Father's Day, when she finds a baby sock:
Robin: What's that?
- Sesame Street's Cookie Monster's speech includes phrases like "Me want cookie!"
- In a cold open of The Office it is brought to Andy's attention that many of the other employees are annoyed by his constant baby talk, which offends him.
- In 30 Rock Jenna complains about another character using "sexy baby" talk, complaining that she invented it. Cut to her coming out with the incomprehensible noises babies use before they learn to speak.
- In the Community Glee parody episode/ChristmasEpisode "Regional Holiday Music", Annie, who is usually a very intelligent and competent person, sings a song to lure Jeff into the cult-like glee club, which was a parody of how Glee sexualizes young girls and the way Christmas songs treat women, (e.g. Santa Baby). Annie is wearing a Sexy Santa Dress and sings about wanting Jeff to teach her how to understand Christmas, with it, by the last verse, morphing into baby talk.
Annie: Bwain huwty undewstandy chwistmas, mistletoe for eaty taste good? You smarty, me dumb, help pwetty have fun, boopy doopy doop boop sex.
- Star Trek: The Original Series had an example in Friday's Child, which perplexes Spock:
McCoy, holding a newborn baby: Oochie-coochie-coochie-coo! Oochie-coochie-coochie-coo!
- At the end of Harry Potter, Bellatrix Lestrange speaks like this to mock the main character.
- She also does it to taunt Neville Longbottom - whose parents she tortured to insanity, likely in front of him, when he was a year old and probably speaking baby talk.
- Redwall's "Dibbuns" (baby animals) are prone to this. When combined with molespeech the results are really bizarre.
- Satirized in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Sunny Baudelaire is a surprisingly intelligent baby, but still only a baby, so she speaks in baby talk. People who know her well can apparently fully understand what she is saying, but every one of her baby talk words is translated into a well thought-out sentence for the convenience of the reader.
- And she speaks in nonsense words (translated into perfectly articulate English), which often reference something relevant to what she's actually saying, rather than the usual distorted English. Sunny's almost more of a Strange Syntax Speaker, particularly in the later books.
- In To Say Nothing of the Dog, Tossie talks this way to her cat, Princess Arjumand (AKA "Dearum Dearum Juju")
- Lola Pratt in Seventeen by Booth Tarkington.
- Anne of L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series, was firm in the idea that baby talk should never be spoken to her children; she had read a parenting book that said baby talk was an improper way for children to learn language. This goes right out the window the minute her son, Jem, is born, much to her husband Gilbert's amusement. When he calls her on it, she has this to say about the author of the parenting book:
Anne: He never had any children of his own, Gilbert--I am positive he hadn't or he would never have written such rubbish. You just can't help talking baby talk to a baby. It comes natural--and it's RIGHT. It would be inhuman to talk to those tiny, soft, velvety little creatures as we do to great big boys and girls. Babies want love and cuddling and all the sweet baby talk they can get, and Little Jem is going to have it, bless his dear itty heartums.
- Their youngest daughter, Rilla, had a lisp as a child. In her book, "Rilla of Ingleside", she relates how hard she worked to get rid of it, and how embarassed she is that it still comes out when she is nervous. When her childhood friend Kenneth Ford proposes to her at the end of the book, she answers with "Yesth".
- Dorothy Parker, who wrote a book review column called "The Constant Reader" truly loathed A. A. Milne's work. In her review savaging The House at Pooh Corner she used baby talk:
It was at the word "hummy", my darlings, that marked the first point in The House At Pooh Corner where Tonstant Weader fwowed up.
- The "jellicle cats" in Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, later adapted into Cats, were named for T. S. Eliot's niece attempting to say "dear little cat."
Garfield: Excuse me while nicey-wicey puddy tat takes a barfy-warfy in the grassy-wassy.
- In a previous one, John is the culprit...
John: Would puddy tat wike a bowl of milk?
Recorded And Stand Up Comedy
WedRed Skelton's character of Junior, "the mean widdle kid"...who actually dates back to Skelton's wadioradio show.
- Josh Blue has a variation on this. People talk to him like he's mentally challenged when he's just got cerebral palsy.
I get people saying stuff like, "Hiiiiiii...Buuuuuddyyyyyyy...How...are...youuu?" You know what I say to these people? "IIIIIIIIII...need to get LAAAAID!" And that seems to throw them for a loop.
- Luanne Lui from Backyard Sports. But that's because she's 4 years old.
- In Marco's storyline in Battle Fantasia, all of his "r"s are written as "w"s ("that's not faiw" instead of "that's not fair").
- Bob and George Poor widdle Georgie... got even.
- In Dead Winter, the Flight portion of Liz's fight-or-flight response is represented by a little girl who speaks this way.
- Dissonance: Sarah talks this way to keep Pandora from panicking while James takes a blood sample.
- Tweety from Looney Tunes talks like this because he is supposed to be a baby bird.
- Rugrats. Dil took it even further than the rest of the main characters, being the youngest.
- Subverted in one episode of The Simpsons where Marge lets Manjula hold Maggie.
Manjula: (Babbles to Maggie, who giggles)
- Futurama: "It's pwonounced cweam."
- Baby Ponies in G1 of My Little Pony didn't state some words when they talked, and didn't have correct grammar, so we had sentences like "Me try", "Get checkers", and "Maybe play now".
- In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic Applejack begins comforting the apple tree she's delivering in baby talk after Rarity accuses her of treating the tree like her baby.
- Humourously, Rarity sometimes speaks to her cat like this.
- In the most recent episode, Spike is taken to a doctor who speaks to him in Baby Talk. Fitting since he's a baby dragon, but he doesn't find it amusing and promptly breathes fire at the doc.
- Spike's friends sometimes call him, "Widdew Spikey-Wikey," though. And he doesn't seem to mind at all.
- Pinkie resorts to doing this with Mr. & Mrs. Cake's twin foals. However, considering that said foals are only a month old, it's justified.
- Cheerilee and Big Macintosh speak to each other in this manner in the Hearts and Hooves Day episode as a result of the "love potion" the Cutie Mark Crusaders had given them. They continue to speak this way at the end of the episode (after the love potion had worn off) to torment the CMC as part of their punishment.