A body is placed in a certain airstream

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  • Separate phrases more distinctly, leaving longer pauses between them.
  • Speak more s-l-o-w-l-y.
  • Use exaggerated  ‘singsong’ intonation, which helps to emphasise key words.  Also to exaggerate the difference between questions, statements and commands.
  • Use a higher and wider pitch range.

Lexis and semantics

  • Use of concrete nouns (cat, train) and dynamic verbs (give, put).
  • Adopt child’s own words for things (doggie, wickle babbit).
  • Frequent use of child’s name and an absence of pronouns.


  • Simpler constructions
  • Frequent use of imperatives
  • High degree of repetition
  • Use of personal names instead of pronouns (e.G. ‘Mummy’ not ‘I’)
  • Fewer verbs, modifiers and adjectives

Large number of one-word utterances

  • Deixis used to point child’s attention to objects or people
  • Repeated sentence frames eg. “that’s a ……”
  • Use more simple sentences and fewer complex and passives.
  • Omission of past tenses, inflections (plurals and possessives).
  • Use more commands, questions and tag questions.
  • Use of EXPANSIONS – where the adult fills out the child’s utterance.
  • Use of RE-CASTINGS – where the child’s vocabulary is put into a new utterance.


  • Lots of gesture and warm body language.
  • Fewer utterances per turn – stopping frequently for child to respond.
  • Supportive language (expansions and re-castings)

CDS aims to:

  • Attract and hold the baby’s attention.
  • Help the process of braking down language into understandable chunks.
  • Make the conversation more predictable by referring to the here-and-now.

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