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Long before they’re making their linguistic debut, babies are watching, listening, processing, their little brains working furiously to make sense of the world.

小宝宝开口发出第一个音之前,他们就一直在观察倾听、处理信息,他们的小脑袋在疯狂运作以搞懂这个世界。

But new research shows that they’re participating. From the moment they’re born, babies are, in their own way, communicating in the language of their families: Even before they have words, they have accents.

但新的一项研究显示,小宝宝们在参与。从出生的那一刻,小宝宝在用他们自己的方式、自己的语系来交流。他们能用语言表达之前,就已经有了语调。

In a pair of studies led by Kathleen Wermke, who runs the Center for Pre-speech Development and Developmental Disorders at the University of Würzburg in Germany, researchers ran acoustical analyses on more than 6,000 cries, collected from infants during their first week of life.

凯瑟琳乌木克管理德国维尔茨堡大学管理语前发育和发育障碍中心,带领研究人员做了一组实验,收录了超过6000多例出生一周的新生儿的哭声,做了声音分析。

In the first, published in the Journal of Voice, they focused on babies born to German and Mandarin-speaking Chinese families. In the second, published in Speech, Language and Hearing, they compared the cries of German babies to those of babies from Nso families in Cameroon, who speak Lamnso.

第一个研究发表在《声音期刊》上,关注出生在德语与普通话的家庭的婴儿。第二个研究发布在《话语、语言和听觉》上,比较了德国婴儿和喀麦隆尼索家庭里说林姆索语言的孩子。

Unlike German (and English), both Mandarin and Lamnso are both tonal languages, in which a single combination of sounds can create multiple words; the meaning of a spoken word changes depending on the pitch the speaker uses.

不像德语(和英语),普通话和林姆索都是声调语言,几个音的组合就可以创造出多个词,说的词语意义的转化取决于说话的音高。

Accordingly, the Chinese and Nso babies both cried more melodically than their German counterparts: their pitches reached higher highs and lower lows, and their cries also fluctuated in pitch more quickly.

同样,中国和尼索的婴儿比起德国的婴儿来说,哭起来更具韵律:其音高可以达到至高和极低,哭声音高起伏速率也快。

Together, the two studies suggest that babies are learning the nuances of speech even before they’re born, absorbing information about pitch from their mothers while still in the womb.

合起来看,两研究表明小宝宝在出生前就学会了语言的细微差别,还在子宫里就跟妈妈吸收了音高方面的讯息。

文章来源:沪江英语

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