Finding Your Voice

Why do we use a different voice to talk to babies and dogs?

No one ever told me to change my voice when I talk to an infant or a dog, but I do it, and it seems to work. And I’m not the only one who does it.

The best way to describe the voice I use to talk to little kids or puppies is a cross between Marvin The Martian and Bart Simpson.

Why I do this, I do not know, but it does seem that babies and canines know that I’m talking to them when I use this voice.

Communication is a funny thing. Whether it’s a different voice, slowing down our speech, or yelling, instead of facing the fact that babies and animals don’t know what we’re saying, no matter how we sound, we try anyway.

It’s not just kids and dogs, it’s people who are hard of hearing, or do not speak the same language that we do.

More than once, I’ve witnessed someone trying to talk to a person who’s virtually deaf by yelling at them. I’m that guy. Being someone who wears hearing devices, I can tell you that if I’m not wearing my hearing aids, yelling at me is basically useless.

Even funnier to me is the person who speaks English who yells their message at someone who speaks a different language because the person can’t understand them. I’m no linguist, but I’m pretty sure that yelling in a foreign language is no more of an effective means of getting your message across than yelling at someone who’s hearing impaired.

But, back to the babies and dogs. Babies will eventually master speech, but the latter, depending on the breed, will only learn a minimal amount of words. So, talking to them in long, complex sentences using a funny voice doesn’t make a lot of sense.

All of our character voices may be different, but many of the phrases we use for kids and pets are quite similar.

“Does baby want some strained prunes? Yes, him does. Yes, him does.”

Talking in the special voice obviously gives us license to violate every pronoun rule in the book. It’s similar when talking to the dog.

“Does Sparky want to go outside and do his business? Yes, him does. Yes, him does.”

A side note. The special voice does not work with cats. They just look at you funny if you try and use it. As a matter of fact, cats do not want to talk to us ever unless their food bowl is empty, or if it has food in it but the cat can see daylight in the bottom of the bowl.

Some people I’ve encountered have really unique and amazing kid and pet voices. Some sound like a dying hyena. But, I think that regardless of our funny voices, the little ones and the pups appreciate it.

Notice that I said the little ones and the pups. Not the grownups. My wife gets tired of mine.

Yes, her does.

©2015 John Moore

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