Baby Talk

“Writing is a struggle against silence.”
Carlos Fuentes

One more reason why words matter: A new study cited in The New York Times suggests what many of us moms probably already believe to be true: that babies actually absorb and learn bits of their native language before they are born. A baby develops the ability to hear at about seven months within the womb, so he or she can make out a mother’s voice in the last eight weeks of pregnancy.

Here’s what the new study came up with: Researchers tested forty American and forty Swedish newborns from 7 to 75 hours old to see if they could distinguish between English and Swedish vowel sounds. These sneaky scientists gave each baby a pacifier that counted the number of sucks they made. As the babies sucked, they were exposed to English and Swedish vowel sounds; the more they sucked, the more either of the sounds were played.

The scientists gauged their level of interest in the sounds based on the amount of sucking they did. American babies sucked more often when hearing Swedish vowel sounds, suggesting a high level of interest because they hadn’t heard them before — and the Swedish babies sucked more often when hearing English language. Smart little cookies!

Learning so quickly right after being born seemed unlikely to the researchers — why, I wonder? – – so they believe that the babies’ understanding of native and nonnative sounds must have been developed in the womb. “Even in late gestation, babies are doing what they’ll be doing throughout infancy and childhood — learning about language,” notes the study paper’s lead author, Christine Moon of Pacific Lutheran University.

Who knows if all this is really accurate. Still, astonishing, isn’t it, to think of all the world’s babies imbibing words along with their amniotic fluid? In my mind, it just goes to show that words are part of the very ocean of our being. And when we write, we enter that ocean in some mysterious and deeply profound way. So, we’re all made of stardust and sea: how expansive we really are!

And gee, maybe all those Baby Einstein tapes worked after all! Write on!

About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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5 Responses to Baby Talk

  1. Joe Owens says:

    Growing begins at inception and every moment is another chance to add to the process. Both of our children were early talkers and forming sentences before they were two years old. I believe a lot of it was because we talked to them with words instead of making goo-goo gah-gah sounds.

    • Hi Joe,

      Thanks so much for checking in. I totally agree with you — words matter everywhere, all the time! My son Alex is a huge reader and had a great vocabulary, even as a kid. We always read to him aloud and conversed with him using real words — I think that makes a real difference. How amazing — and sobering — to think that words travel everywhere. I hope all your writing projects are thriving — please keep me posted!

      Write on, Karin

      > Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2013 14:32:41 +0000 > To: >

  2. Pingback: Very inspiring Blogger Award | Joe's Musings

    • Hi Joe,

      Congratulations on your “Very Inspiring Blogger Award” — it’s a true testimony
      to the wonderful work that you are doing. And thanks so much for including
      karinwritesdangerously in your list of blogs that inspire you — I feel honored.
      I would love to know more about this award — it’s something I aspire to as well.

      Write on,

  3. Pingback: Sunshine Blogging Award | Joe's Musings

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