Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bilingual babies know their grammar by 7 months

Date:
February 14, 2013
Source:
University of British Columbia
Summary:
Babies as young as seven months can distinguish between, and begin to learn, two languages with vastly different grammatical structures, according to new research.

Babies as young as seven months can distinguish between, and begin to learn, two languages with vastly different grammatical structures.
Credit: © Yuri Arcurs / Fotolia

Babies as young as seven months can distinguish between, and begin to learn, two languages with vastly different grammatical structures, according to new research from the University of British Columbia and Université Paris Descartes.

Published February 14 in the journal Nature Communications and presented at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston, the study shows that infants in bilingual environments use pitch and duration cues to discriminate between languages -- such as English and Japanese -- with opposite word orders.

In English, a function word comes before a content word (the dog, his hat, with friends, for example) and the duration of the content word is longer, while in Japanese or Hindi, the order is reversed, and the pitch of the content word higher.

"By as early as seven months, babies are sensitive to these differences and use these as cues to tell the languages apart," says UBC psychologist Janet Werker, co-author of the study.

Previous research by Werker and Judit Gervain, a linguist at the Université Paris Descartes and co-author of the new study, showed that babies use frequency of words in speech to discern their significance.

"For example, in English the words 'the' and 'with' come up a lot more frequently than other words -- they're essentially learning by counting," says Gervain. "But babies growing up bilingual need more than that, so they develop new strategies that monolingual babies don't necessarily need to use."

"If you speak two languages at home, don't be afraid, it's not a zero-sum game," says Werker. "Your baby is very equipped to keep these languages separate and they do so in remarkable ways."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Judit Gervain, Janet F. Werker. Prosody cues word order in 7-month-old bilingual infants. Nature Communications, 2013; 4: 1490 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2430

Cite This Page:

University of British Columbia. "Bilingual babies know their grammar by 7 months." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130214111606.htm>.
University of British Columbia. (2013, February 14). Bilingual babies know their grammar by 7 months. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130214111606.htm
University of British Columbia. "Bilingual babies know their grammar by 7 months." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130214111606.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) — China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) — An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins