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Newborn babies may cry in their mother tongues

Days after birth, French and German infants wail to the melodic structure of their languages

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1:09pm, November 5, 2009

Only days after birth, babies have a bawl with language. Newborn babies cry in melodic patterns that they have heard in adults’ conversations — even while in the womb, say medical anthropologist Kathleen Wermke of the University of Würzburg in Germany, and her colleagues.

By 2 to 5 days of age, infants’ cries bear the tuneful signature of their parents’ native tongue, a sign that language learning has already commenced, the researchers report in a paper published online November 5 in Current Biology.

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