Friday, March 12, 2010

Newborns May Cry in Mother Tongue

Research suggests that newborns cry in melodic patterns they have heard in adults’ conversations — even while in the womb. This means they are language learning even before birth.

Melodic patterns and pitch shifts attach emotion and meaning to words and newborns re-create those patterns in at least some of their crying. For example, in tests German newborns’ cries started out high-pitched and became increasingly lower vs. French newborns’ who started out low and moved higher - characteristic of how German and French is spoken. Also, prenatal babies prefer their mother's voice to others and days after birth discriminate between native and foreign languages.

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