It’s well known that babies can hear the sounds around them while still in the womb. What is less well known, however, is that newborns cry with a different accent in different corners of the world.
Researchers have found that the patterns and the melodies of the newborns’ cries vary based on their parents’ native tongue.1 In a study with German and French babies, researchers discovered that the range of pitch and the overall intonation of the cry closely mimics the intonation in their respective language. Not only can babies absorb what they hear while still in the womb, but they can partly reproduce those sounds in their own vocalization!
What happens when parents speak multiple languages during pregnancy? It turns out that newborns exposed to different tongues produce noticeably more complex melodies with their cries.2 While the research on the infants’ vocalization is still ongoing, these findings illuminate the incredible extent of development that occurs in the womb.
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