Babies Cry in Native Language

Cynthia Dermody
5
mother and newborn baby

Photo by amybuddy45

The next time your baby cries, listen very closely. Does the cry tend to go up a few octaves in melody or down? Does your baby's cry even have a "melody"?

As a matter of fact, it does. Researchers have found that babies cry in their own native language, and that each cry has it's own distinctive sound, according to Reuters.

For instance, French newborns tend to cry with a rising melody contour, while their German neighbors prefer a falling melody shape -- patterns which the researchers said fit with characteristic differences between the two languages.

Previous studies have shown that human fetuses can memorize sounds from the external world by the last three months of pregnancy and are particularly attuned to melodies in both music and language, says Reuters. Vocal imitation studies have also shown babies can match vowel sounds spoken by adults, but only from 12 weeks old.

The study involved only French and German babies, so I'm not sure what distinguishes an English speaking baby's cry, except that I I've absorbed enough soundwaves up close and personal to know that it can really hurt your ears.

What's your baby's mother tongue? Have you noticed that infants with a different native language cry differently than your baby?

 

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