Communicative and affectionate features of motherese and preterm infants’ vocalizations during kangaroo care: A microanalytical study

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Abstract

Motherese has been studied particularly in its prosodic features. The scientific literature has underlined the importance of this type of communication on the infants’ vocal responsiveness. However, we still know little about the role of motherese on preterm infants’ vocal responsiveness. We intend to know the prosodic and communicative characteristics of motherese in preterm dyads and particularly to understand its relationship with the preterm infant’s vocal responsiveness. At NICU, mothers (N = 38) were asked to speak and to sing without words (humming) to their preterm infants in kangaroo care during five periods of three minutes alternating voice and silence, controlling the order
effect (silence – speech or humming – silence – humming or speech – silence).
A microanalytical study about prosodic and communicative/affectionate features of motherese was performed using ELAN, MAXQDA, and PRAAT software.
According to results, tonal contours (sinusoidal, U-shaped and falling) and infants’ vocalizations seem to contribute for preterm dyads’ vocal modulation.
A high use of phatic and conative functions, interrogative utterances, infants’ positive aspects, infants designated by affectionate words, and utterances connected with infants' needs were observed. This study contributed to explore the role of the communicative/affectionate and prosodic features of the motherese on preterm infants’ vocal responsiveness during the kangaroo care in NICU. Still, more studies are needed to deepen these preliminary results.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223–244
Number of pages21
JournalCulture Language and Representation
Volume30
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

Keywords

  • Preterm infants
  • Maternal speech
  • Communicative and affectionate features
  • Prosodic features
  • Infant's vocalizations
  • Kangaroo care

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