Child-directed and overheard input from different speakers in two distinct cultures

Georgia Loukatou, Camila Scaff, Katherine Demuth, Alejandrina Cristia, Naomi Havron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite the fact that in most communities interaction occurs between the child and multiple speakers, most previous research on input to children focused on input from mothers. We annotated recordings of Sesotho-learning toddlers living in non-industrial Lesotho in South Africa, and French-learning toddlers living in urban regions in France. We examined who produced the input (mothers, other children, adults), how much input was child directed, and whether and how it varied across speakers. As expected, mothers contributed most of the input in the French recordings. However, in the Sesotho recordings, input from other children was more common than input from mothers or other adults. Child-directed speech from all speakers in both cultural groups showed similar qualitative modifications. Our findings suggest that input from other children is prevalent and has similar features as child-directed from adults described in previous work, inviting cross-cultural research into the effects of input from other children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1173-1192
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Child Language
Issue number6
Early online date19 Oct 2021
StatePublished - 19 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We should thank our annotators Clara Daoud, Lara Oliel, and Emilie Sonnet and our grants 1. Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR-17-CE28-0007 LangAge, ANR-16-DATA-0004 ACLEW, ANR-17-EURE-0017) 2. the J. S. McDonnell Foundation Understanding Human Cognition Scholar Award.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press.


  • child-directed speech
  • cross-cultural
  • French language
  • language development
  • linguistic input
  • peer speech
  • quantitative and qualitative analysis
  • Sesotho language

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • General Psychology


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