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Activity types and child-directed speech: a comparison between French, Tunisian Arabic and English

  • Ludivine Glas (a1), Caroline Rossi (a2), Rim Hamdi-Sultan (a3), Cédric Batailler (a4) and Hacene Bellemmouche (a5)...


Quantity and quality of input affect language development, but input features also depend on the context of language emission. Previous research has described mother-child interactions and their impact on language development according to activity types like mealtimes, book reading, and free play. Nevertheless, few studies have sought to quantify activity types in naturalistic datasets including less-studied languages and cultures. Our research questions are the following: we ask whether regularities emerge in the distribution of activity types across languages and recordings, and whether activities have an impact on mothers' linguistic productions. We analyse input for two children per language, at three developmental levels. We distinguish three activity types: solitary, social and maintenance activities, and measure mothers' linguistic productions within each type. Video-recorded activities differ across families and developmental levels. Linguistic features of child-directed speech (CDS) also vary across activities – notably for measures of diversity and complexity – which points to complex interactions between activity and language.

La quantité et la qualité de l'input ont un impact sur le développement du langage, mais certaines caractéristiques de l'input dépendent aussi du contexte situationnel, autrement dit du type d'activité, dans lequel les énoncés sont produits. Certains travaux ont décrit l'impact des interactions mère-enfant sur le développement du langage en fonction du type d'activité comme les repas, la lecture ou le jeu libre. Cependant, très peu de travaux ont cherché à quantifier la répartition des différents types d'activités dans des suivis longitudinaux, en intégrant des langues moins souvent étudiées. Nos questions de recherche sont les suivantes : le codage par types d'activités révèlera-t-il des régularités indépendantes des langues et des enregistrements, et les types d'activités observés ont-ils un impact sur le langage adressé à l'enfant (LAE) ? Les enregistrements analysés concernent l'input de deux enfants par langue (tunisien, anglais américain et français), à trois étapes développementales. Nous distinguons trois types d'activités : les activités sociales, solitaires et de maintenance, et les productions des mères sont mesurées au sein de chaque type. Les activités enregistrées varient d'une famille à l'autre, et à chaque étape développementale. Des variations du LAE sont également observées d'un type d'activité à l'autre : elles concernent la diversité et la complexité mesurées, et suggèrent qu'il n'existe pas de lien univoque entre type d'activité et caractéristique de l'input.

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Corresponding author


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We would like to thank Darine Saïdi from the University of Paris 8, for her help in understanding Tunisian data. This study was conducted within the PREMS project (PI S.Kern), funded by the French National Research Agency (ANR-11-BSH2-0009) <>



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Activity types and child-directed speech: a comparison between French, Tunisian Arabic and English

  • Ludivine Glas (a1), Caroline Rossi (a2), Rim Hamdi-Sultan (a3), Cédric Batailler (a4) and Hacene Bellemmouche (a5)...


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