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Re: [xmca] Babies 'cry in mother's tongue'

Same for music composition.  The abstract below is from a 2002 article in
the journal Cognition (see attached if interested).


Musicologists and linguists have often suggested that the prosody of a
culture's spoken language can influence the structure of its instrumental
music. However, empirical data supporting this idea have been lacking. This
has been partly due to the difficulty of developing and applying comparable
quantitative measures to melody and rhythm in speech and music. This study
uses a recently-developed measure for the study of speech rhythm to compare
rhythmic patterns in English and French language and classical music. We
find that English and French musical themes are significantly different in
this measure of rhythm, which also differentiates the rhythm of spoken
English and French. Thus, there is an empirical basis for the claim that
spoken prosody leaves an imprint on the music of a culture.

On Mon, Nov 9, 2009 at 7:33 AM, Au, Wayne <wau@exchange.fullerton.edu>wrote:

> 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" <smago@uga.edu> 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.
> http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8346058.stm
> 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.
> Cry melodies
> 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
> later.
> 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
> there."
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> --
> Wayne Au
> Assistant Professor
> Department of Secondary Education
> CSU Fullerton
> P.O. Box 6868
> Fullerton, CA 92834
> Office: 657.278.5481
> Editorial Board Member: Rethinking Schools (www.rethinkingschools.org)
> http://ed.fullerton.edu/SecEd/Faculty/Full_Time_Faculty/Au.html
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Attachment: Aniruddh D. Patel and Joseph R. Daniele. An empirical comparison of rhythm in language and music.pdf.pdf
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