An ELT Glossary : Caretaker speech




  • Definition : The simplified form of speech used by people who think the listener has limited linguistic or intellectual competence eg parents talking to very young children, native speakers to foreigners, carers to the senile etc etc, which will use eg short, simple syntax, a slow rate of delivery, concrete high frequency lexis, repetition, and frequent reference to the "here and now" situation to make meaning clear.


  • Example : Mother to child - Where's teddy? Oh look - there's teddy. He's on the chair. 

  •  A difference between caretaker speech directed to native speakers and to non-native speakers is that "foreigner talk" often includes ungrammatical items of the type the speaker believes the listener will use - eg "You no like?"