Babies Cry with an Accent

February is Other Than Speech Making Month.  What on earth is that, right?  On February 24th, I'm hosting a panel of guests on the Art of Eloquence Monthly Workshops to share just how far reaching communication skills are.  They are so much more than making those speeches we were talking about last month!  Communication is something we do every day! I found this tidbit of research and thought we should start from the beginning... Recent research shows that babies cry with an accent!  According to an article in the newspaper a few months ago, the journal, Current Biology, published a study done by the Max Planck Society in Germany that says virtually that! Angela Friederici, one of the authors of the study, said they found "clear differences in the tone and pitch of the babies' cries.  The French babies started low and went higher, while the German ones did the opposite."  It seems that there is a correlation between the babies' cries and how their parents speak.  In French, a great many words have the stress at the end, so the intonation rises.  German words do mostly the opposite. Friederici says, "The sense of hearing is the first sensory system that develops, but because the amniotic fluid muffles sounds, what gets through are primarily the melodies and intonation of the respective language." It doesn't say anything about any of the other languages, but I'd be interested to learn more about this study.  I'll post any other findings, should I find them!  lol


  • Cindy Holman

    This is interesting – but totally makes sense too! If what a baby has been used to hearing for nine months is a tonal way in which the parent’s speak – then it would be copied through crying from their baby too. My Mom said she always knew my sister and me by our ‘cry’. We apparently cried exactly the same way – A LAH A LAH A LAH. Isn’t that funny?

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  • jojosblog

    I found it fascinating. Never thought that a tonal accent would be present in different cultures.

  • BeckyJoie

    This is very cute.

  • jojosblog

    ROFL, Candace. As a mom, I think you’d agree, crying doesn’t sound good in any language! :D

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