London: If you think a baby`s shriek has no language, think again, for a new study says that toddlers cry in their mother tongue.
Researchers in Germany have carried out the study and found that babies cry with regional accents copied from their mothers -- in fact they pick up the traits in womb, the `Daily Mail` reported.
Newborn babies tend to have simple cries that rise and then fall. But as the days and weeks pass, their cries become more sophisticated -- varying in pitch and length.
For their study, the researchers, led by Dr Kathleen Wermke of the University of Wurzburg, analysed the patterns of cries of some 30 German and French babies in the first five days of life.
The study found that the screams of a five-day-old French baby have a distinct Gallic twang, while German babies have a Teutonic quality to their yells. The French baby cries tended to start low and then rise in pitch. In contrast, the German baby cries tended to start high and then drop in pitch.
Dr Wermke said the patterns mirrored the intonation of French and German speakers.
"French is a very distinctive with respect to intonation. If you listen to French speakers you can hear a rise in pitch in words and phrases. In German speakers there is a fall," she was quoted as saying.
According to the researchers, babies are listening to their mother`s voice in the last three months of pregnancy -- and copying the patterns of speech when they cry.
Dr Wermke said: "We know that infants are capable of recognising their mother`s voice, her accent and tunes played while they are in the womb. They are hardwired to learn language and copy.
"The dramatic finding of this study is that not only are human newborns capable of producing different cry melodies, but they prefer to produce those melody patterns that are typical for their languages they have heard during
their foetal life, within the last trimester."
The findings have been published in the `Current Biology` journal.