The science of baby babbling – and why it can take on accents

A video of 19-month-old Orla from Liverpool has gone viral, reaching more than 19 million views on TikTok. In the clip, babysitter Olayka is trying to coax Orla into a nap. Orla, however, wants to stay up and protests in babbling sounds with a distinct Liverpool English ("scouse") accent.

Andrew Jessop, our former LuCiD postdoc and now a lecturer at the University of Liverpool, explains in The Conversation how this adorable exchange highlights important processes of language acquisition. Baby babbling is a crucial milestone, allowing children to explore and practice sounds, often reflecting regional accents before they start using real words.

When you play the video, at 2 minutes and 12 seconds in, you can also see LuCiD director Prof. Julian Pine, who was interviewed on this topic by BBC North West Tonight, at the end of last week. 

You can also listen to the Radio New Zealand (RNZ) interview, where Julian explains this in more depth, or listen to the Woman's Hour interview here, about 14.30 minutes in.


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