A new study suggest that the sounds babies hear before birth can affect the way the perceive and produce sound much later in life. Previously, many linguists believed that babies could not distinguish phonemes, but only rhythm. This study suggests that they may actually be able to distinguish both.

Essential to this study were babies who were adopted, and therefore heard a different language in the womb than the language their adopted mothers now speak to them.

Being a linguistics and psychology enthusiast, I think it would be fun to conduct an experiment in which mothers play audio recordings from languages other than their own during pregnancy, and then years later to compare that person’s ability to acquire a second language’s pronunciation to other people’s ability who had not heard the audio recordings while in the womb.

If this is really the case, my mom probably didn’t expose me to much Arabic while I was in the womb, because I am having a tough time producing the Arabic sounds I am learning. (:

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