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Re: [xmca] Babies 'cry in mother's tongue'
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- Subject: Re: [xmca] Babies 'cry in mother's tongue'
- From: "Au, Wayne" <wau@Exchange.FULLERTON.EDU>
- Date: Mon, 9 Nov 2009 07:33:35 -0800
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- Thread-topic: [xmca] Babies 'cry in mother's tongue'
Yes, I saw this in the NY Times. Quite fascinating. I've been thinking a lot about this type of thing because my wife is about 6 months pregnant, and in the process of reading and studying about almost every aspect I can about both pregnancy and birth, some of the researchers say fetuses can begin to "hear" as early as around 22 weeks or so in utero (perhaps earlier), and at 28 weeks their eye's work well enough to blink and sense light. It occurred to me that, as soon as sensory input becomes available to the fetus, then we'd have to think about the cultural influences that "sneak" in as the brain and body develops. If babies can recognize their mother's and father's voices as soon as they are born, then surely they've learned those voices in utero.
On 11/9/09 3:21 AM, "Peter Smagorinsky" <email@example.com> wrote:
This finding is interesting, given LSV's view that cultural influences begin
at age 2, and Mike Cole's revision that it begins at birth. Here, it begins
in the womb. Fascinating stuff.
Babies 'cry in mother's tongue'
Babies' cries imitate their mother tongue as early as three days old
German researchers say babies begin to pick up the nuances of their parents'
accents while still in the womb.
The researchers studied the cries of 60 healthy babies born to families
speaking French and German.
The French newborns cried with a rising "accent" while the German babies'
cries had a falling inflection.
Writing in the journal Current Biology, they say the babies are probably
trying to form a bond with their mothers by imitating them.
The findings suggest that unborn babies are influenced by the sound of the
first language that penetrates the womb.
It was already known that foetuses could memorise sounds from the outside
world in the last three months of pregnancy and were particularly sensitive
to the contour of the melody in both music and human voices.
Earlier studies had shown that infants could match vowel sounds presented to
them by adult speakers, but only from 12 weeks of age.
Kathleen Wermke from the University of Wurzburg, who led the research, said:
"The dramatic finding of this study is that not only are human neonates
capable of producing different cry melodies, but they prefer to produce
those melody patterns that are typical for the ambient language they have
heard during their foetal life.
Newborns are highly motivated to imitate their mother's behaviour in order
to attract her and hence to foster bonding
Kathleen Wermke, Unversity of Wurzburg
"Contrary to orthodox interpretations, these data support the importance of
human infants' crying for seeding language development."
Dr Wermke's team recorded and analysed the cries of 60 healthy newborns when
they were three to five days old.
Their analysis revealed clear differences in the shape of the infants' cry
melodies that corresponded to their mother tongue.
They say the babies need only well-co-ordinated respiratory-laryngeal
systems to imitate melody contours and not the vocal control that develops
Dr Wermke said: "Newborns are highly motivated to imitate their mother's
behaviour in order to attract her and hence to foster bonding.
"Because melody contour may be the only aspect of their mother's speech that
newborns are able to imitate, this might explain why we found melody contour
imitation at that early age."
Debbie Mills, a reader in developmental cognitive neuroscience at Bangor
University, said: "This is really interesting because it suggests that they
are producing sounds they have heard in the womb and that means learning and
that it is not an innate behaviour.
"Many of the early infant behaviours are almost like reflexes that go away
after the first month and then come back later in a different form.
"It would be interesting to look at these babies after a month and see if
their ability to follow the melodic contours of their language is still
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