|Abstract:||This paper argues for a distinct treatment of expressive palatalization – a phonologically unmotivated process that applies in babytalk registers, diminutive constructions, and sound symbolism. As evidence we present results of a cross-linguistic survey of expressive palatalization and of two experiments testing native speakers’ intuitions about alternations in Japanese mimetic vocabulary and the babytalk specialized register. Both typological and experimental results point to the same scale of palatalizability, with coronal sibilants being the most optimal targets and outputs of expressive palatalization. The source of this scale, we argue, is in relative acoustic salience of palatal(ized) consonants and their ability to function iconically – as phonological correlates of ‘smallness’ and ‘childishness’ (cf. Ohala 1994). We further provide an Output-Output Correspondence analysis of Japanese babytalk and mimetic palatalization that employs a set of register-specific EPAL ICONICITY constraints referring to the scale of perceptual salience of palatal(ized) consonants.