Dictionary.com

Do babies speak with an accent?

infant, baby, accent, patricia kuhlWe all know that infants don’t actually speak with an accent because they don’t really speak at all. But for a long time scientists presumed that infants’ brains could not process sounds at all. Professor Patricia Kuhl, the director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Learning at the University of Washington, wanted to test this notion. Kuhl studied infants between six and eight months whose parents spoke different languages, including English, Swedish, Japanese andRussian. Different languages are made of different types of sounds. Native English speakers have difficulty pronouncing the subtle vowel differentiations of French, while native Japanese speakers have trouble differentiating the l and r sounds of English. Because of these variations, Kuhl could test if a child of Russian-speaking families responded particularly to the sounds of the Russian language, or if their reaction to speech did not vary from language to language.

In her experiments, Kuhl observed that the infants were more responsive to the sounds of their own language than to the sounds of other foreign languages—even before they were able to speak themselves. She discovered that babies as young as one year acquire the specific accented sounds of their parents and that the first year of listening makes a lasting impact on the way we speak for our entire lives. As she told Smithsonian magazine, “Our research shows that a kernel of that pattern of speaking begins to form in the brain well before actual production of speech. And by the time the baby’s first words do come, those distinctive characteristics are solidly in place.”

(What exactly is an accent? Find out here.)

This also helps explain why it is difficult for second-language learners to abolish their accents. The sounds of our first language are so primary it is formidable—if not impossible—to learn some sounds of foreign languages.

What do you think of Kuhl’s research? Do you have other questions about language acquisition?

205 Comments

  1. RedLeafRenegade -  October 20, 2015 - 6:43 am

    Is Dr. Kohl really his name? Beacause to me it sounds like some ’90s doctor trying to sound cool :| :|

    Reply
  2. Cock Goblin -  February 27, 2014 - 4:13 am

    200TH COMMENT YOU ALL NOOBS

    Reply
  3. DarkMistress -  February 26, 2014 - 11:47 pm

    People who don’t know me have no idea that my first accent is British unless I tell them. Mimicking accents is easy for me, and so far I can pass easily for British, Irish or several flavours of American. Not only that but my Spanish and French accents are quite passable.

    However I have heard several Korean adopted young children having trouble pronouncing words correctly, as if they had spoken the language for quite some time, when in fact they were brought to the us at 6 months. The fault lies with the parents at that stage I think…

    Reply
  4. Clannad -  February 26, 2014 - 7:12 pm

    “Professor Patricia Kuhl, the director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Learning at the University of Washington, wanted to test this notion. Kuhl studied infants between six and eight months whose parents spoke different languages, including English, Swedish, Japanese and Russian”…so basically, she tested on humans…no offence.

    Reply
  5. Reuven -  February 26, 2014 - 5:18 pm

    Indonesian is my first language, but I can switch over to my American accent pretty easily. And these two languages are very different in terms of pronunciation.

    Reply
  6. Tee Zackem -  February 25, 2014 - 5:47 pm

    Babies do not learn once they were born, they learn once their brain is developed when they were still in the womb.

    Take a Russian mum to stay with the Japs for 9 months without saying a Russian word, and then have the scientists test the baby again.

    Reply
  7. barry fay -  February 25, 2014 - 1:59 am

    “Kuhl observed that the infants were more responsive to the sounds of their own language than to the sounds of other foreign languages” – the sounds of THEIR OWN LANGUAGE? What does that mean? They have a language of their own before hearing anything? Sort of “A priori”? I don´t think so. “Their own language” would assuredly be the one they are surrounded by – which could be any language in the world. And that would then make the statement above completely trivial if not meaningless.

    Reply
  8. Riley -  February 24, 2014 - 8:02 pm

    I’m Filipino and I’ve never been outside the country but I was raised with English as my first language. I only picked up Hiligaynon when I was in high school and to this day my grammar’s not really perfect and my friends laugh sometimes at my “Americanized” pronunciations of some words. Come college in Manila, people notice my ‘Ilonggo’ accent which I’ve already shed off when speaking English, though they still ask me what province I’m from once I go for local languages like Tagalog or Bisaya. But as far as other languages go, I can pronounce German and French words all right (though not as perfect as a native speaker). I’m not really sure why.

    I guess this theory goes for some people including me. I’ve noticed a different sort of ‘sub-culture’, if I may call it that, in people who were ‘English-speaking’ as kids in my country.

    Reply
  9. Victor -  February 24, 2014 - 6:31 pm

    Actully,(I know, wrong spelling)it’s very easy (for me) to talk Vietnamese at home and talk English at school.

    Reply
  10. Espen -  February 24, 2014 - 6:09 pm

    Very informational…I had never actually wondered this myself

    Reply
  11. Jessie -  February 24, 2014 - 5:45 pm

    This is so interesting! I wonder if when parents talk to babies in a goo goo gaga way if that could affect the child’s speech for the rest of his or her life?

    Reply
  12. Alex -  February 24, 2014 - 3:03 pm

    Wow, this was very interesting. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  13. jaisha -  February 24, 2014 - 11:40 am

    I was born and raised in FL, but spent most of my childhood around my family who speaks with a deep southern accent. This explains why for years I have tried to get rid of my southern accent completely, but to no avail. Even after years of higher-level education up to
    Masters Degree, some words I still have issues with like, “aksed” instead of “asked”.

    Reply
  14. Makana -  February 24, 2014 - 5:11 am

    @Krista
    That’s technically impossible for you to speak English better than someone who’s native to the language. Just like the case with any language. I could become completely fluent in Japanese and lose my accent while speaking it, but I would still never be better at speaking it than a native. I know people like to mock some individuals who sound stupid when they talk and say that they fail at the language, but that’s often just because the person saying it believes if it isn’t said the way they say it, it’s wrong (even though people with different dialects of a language will naturally say things differently). Either that or their grammar and spelling is incorrect. Neither of which have anything to do with actually speaking the language correctly.

    Anyway, I find this study interesting and I believe its true to an extent. Even if you grow up learning to speak another language and end up completely fluent in it, you’re still going to have a hint of an accent based on the language you heard spoken most often in your home. It may be a tiny hint, but it’s still there.

    Reply
  15. TheTia -  February 23, 2014 - 11:15 am

    I was born in a southern state (in the US) with parents who both had blatant and huge southern accents. My mother was born in Nebraska, and my father in Pennsylvania. They traveled a lot for their career and had seen places like Washington, New York, L.A. and several others before I was born. Then we moved to a mid-eastern state when I was three years old. Their accents slowly deteriorated over time as they spent more time with people in the area.

    I’ve never had a southern accent, in-fact I have difficulty even mimicking one. In listening to my voice the majority of people I have met tell me that I either don’t have an accent or that I have an accent unique to me.

    I personally don’t believe that this article has credence for everyone and that the results are generalized from just a few case-specific instances.

    I also know an Irish teenager about sixteen years old who speaks English better than I do with no discernible accent. I know someone who was born and raised in Portugal who learned English from playing Pokemon video games as a child. I thought he was a native English speaker when I met him.

    Fact is this article simply doesn’t appear to be true. Believe what you will.

    Reply
  16. wolf tamer and iron miner -  February 22, 2014 - 3:13 am

    Does this mean that if I had moved from America to Japan when I was less than a year old (and lived there until now), I would have a Japanese accent?

    Reply
  17. Prajeth -  February 20, 2014 - 9:51 pm

    This is really interesting! Like Kiki, my parents were from India but moved to India and I also grew up listening to Kannada on a daily basis from my parents (glad there are more Kannada speakers in the US btw). Being born and raised here in the US and going to English schools, all I could speak is English, but I had a tiny bit of an Indian accent from my parents!

    Reply
  18. Victoria -  February 20, 2014 - 4:39 pm

    Although I don’t agree with Mai, I s/he does have a point.
    I was born in and grew up in Canada, in a primarily Chinese-speaking household; my parents and grandmother spoke Chinese, and my older brother spoke English to me.
    In my brother’s case, he has absolutely no noticeable accent, even though my entire family only spoke to him in Chinese for the first 12 years of his life. He also speaks Chinese very fluently, and with barely any accent.
    In my case, I only spoke and understood Chinese up until I started school when I was 4. However, I never had an accent.
    In Grade 4, I began to learn French, and only this part that Kuhl said was true in my case; I had, and still have, difficulties speaking with a proper French accent.
    Also, despite never learning Japanese, I could still speak with a proper Japanese accent; and I never heard somebody speak it until I was about 10.
    All of these languages I was exposed to messed with my ability to speak Chinese. My family could hear an accent in my speaking, and I sometimes pronounced the clear ‘r’ sounds as the Japanese ‘r’ (similar to the ‘l’ sound).
    So, I think that Kuhl’s research should have been over a longer period of time if it were to be accurate; but, right now, it is ‘bullshit’.

    Reply
  19. transylbabyia -  February 20, 2014 - 4:24 pm

    hello, it iz me, ze baby. i weel suck your bloooooooooooooooooood

    Reply
  20. Shannon -  February 19, 2014 - 7:27 pm

    Quote, “Kuhl observed that the infants were more responsive to the sounds of their own language than to the sounds of other foreign languages” duh…isn’t this why the children around an English Speaking family starts speaking English rather than speaking in say Spanish? They had to do a scientific research on this?

    Reply
  21. Krista -  February 19, 2014 - 1:30 pm

    I agree with Althea — I grew up (am still growing up) around the world and speak three languages fluently. I was born in Albania, so I was immersed in the language for about a year, but I speak English better than many people who grew up in the United States. People often mistake me for a native when I speak Russian. Perhaps babies respond more to the language they hear daily, but I don’t believe that has any impact on the child’s accent whatsoever.

    Reply
  22. Ian Swords -  February 19, 2014 - 12:23 pm

    I think i had an accent when i was a baby

    Reply
  23. alethea -  February 19, 2014 - 12:30 am

    This is utter nonsense. I speak eight completely different languages as fluently as a native. We can never rely on focused study groups, because they are conducted under strictly controlled environments. A child’s brain is like a sponge. It sucks and holds in anything they see, hear and feel within their environment. If you speak Japanese at home and yet play Spanish songs all day on the radio, the child will learn both languages just as easily.

    Reply
  24. Joy :D -  February 18, 2014 - 4:33 pm

    That explains some things. When I was younger my parents spoke English to me, but my grandma who lived with my family for the first 2 years of my life always spoke to me in Tagalog. My little mind must have been confused! I could not pronounce many sounds (especially the letter R) but with speech therapy from an early age (which ceased 6/9/11) I can now talk like an average American. Now I know the science behind this experience.

    Reply
  25. Lily -  February 18, 2014 - 12:00 pm

    This was really interesting! :) Does this mean babies who have parents who speak different languages, learn other languages better than children who have parents of the same language? I mean, it’s understandable if both parents speak the same language–one is obviously going to copy their sounds, but if the parents raise the child with different sounds, does the baby learn languages with more success?

    Reply
  26. Mai -  February 17, 2014 - 1:27 pm

    This is obviously bullshit and I know this for a fact. I grew up in a family that speaks the language of our origin, my parents did not speak English at home and I was surrounded by them. I actually spoke fluently in both my origin language and English as a child, but as I started to get older I was influenced by English in schooling and my other brothers would speak English at home. After a while I stopped talking in my parents language completely and I noticed that they continued to talk in their language but the children in the house spoke in English. I spend more time with my parents than my siblings so don’t bother giving me the bullshitty answer of “Well maybe you didn’t grow an accent because you were surrounded with English speakers more” remember I said in the beginning of this that I was fluent in both languages. I’m actually mad that I know English more than my family language now. Whenever I’m with my relatives it’s annoying that my language of origin sounds so crappy coming out of my mouth. I didn’t come here to completely slay this ladies research but I’m listing that this obviously isn’t true in most cases. Then again it may be that I didn’t have an accent because it’s easy to lose the accent of my language when learning English because the tones of the letters are similar to that of English. I’m also listing this comment to know if the author of this article has more information as to why I was able to speak in both language with no apparent “accent” in either language while I would talk as a child.

    Reply
  27. Kiki -  February 17, 2014 - 11:09 am

    This is an interesting article, especially to me. My parents moved to America from India roughly four years before I was born, and after I was born, were in a somewhat large Indian community, which meant that I was exposed to quite a bit of Hindi and Kannada. Immediately after I was old enough to travel, my parents took me to India, and these trips persisted until I was about seven, at which point we no longer were so immersed within the Indian community in the US.
    I find this article very interesting because I was able to speak somewhat fluent Kannada (getting better when we went to India, where the primary language WAS Kannada) until about the age of nine, at which point I completely lost any ability to speak the language past tiny fragments and snippets that I heard many times.
    I could still fully understand and translate conversations, and had the ability to reply (in English), but was unable to hold even part of a conversation on my side in Kannada.
    What I find even more interesting, is that my father has little to no accent now, except for a few words, while my mother still has problems with American names. I myself do have an accent, and have been told that I do many times – the only problem with it is that no one thinks it is Indian in any way.
    So perhaps there is some sort of difference by language? It could be by what parts of a word is stressed, or maybe just specific timing for the second language.
    Whatever it is bears more researching, especially since there are so many different cases with only little things different.

    Reply
  28. Elisabeth -  February 17, 2014 - 9:02 am

    I heard something interesting many years ago; that if a very young child regularly hears a second language spoken, be it on audio tapes or cd it will speak that lhat language without an accent in later laife. It doesn’t need to understand the language, just hear it spoken.

    Reply
  29. Brian Davidson -  February 16, 2014 - 11:05 pm

    Quote: “But for a long time scientists presumed that infants’ brains could not process sounds at all.”

    What garbage is the very 2nd sentence. No scientist in the modern era has thought this, at least none with any credibility. Seriously, do you guys even check what’s written in your name?

    Reply
  30. Hershal Squires -  February 15, 2014 - 9:12 pm

    a baby will respond to his her mom’s voice, too

    Reply
  31. Sophie -  February 14, 2014 - 12:36 pm

    The sentence “This also helps explain why it is difficult for second-language learners to abolish their accents. The sounds of our first language are so primary it is formidable—if not impossible—to learn some sounds of foreign languages.” makes me feel really good. I grew up in Germany, speaking German but when I speak English, people assume I’m from the States or that I have spent some time there. I’ve never been in any anglophone country, though. Reading this article made me feel quite proud.

    Reply
  32. Sarah -  February 13, 2014 - 3:34 pm

    …Before “it” can talk?

    Reply
  33. Biggles McGhee -  February 13, 2014 - 2:51 pm

    Apparently nobody actually knows how to read scientific articles. Yeah ‘Murika!

    Reply
  34. Ken -  February 13, 2014 - 9:08 am

    Considering children of Deaf adults, and other children who are exposed to sign languages as infants are able to produce signs and have some rudimentary sign conversations as early as 6 months old, this is not surprising.

    Reply
  35. **** -  February 13, 2014 - 8:13 am

    This is really interesting but I would point out that my first language was Russian (because my parents are Russian) but once I began preschool I quickly picked up on English and now have absolutely no difficulty with English. In fact, I actually have an American accent when I speak Russian, but never a Russian accent when I speak English.
    It’s not just during infancy that you learn accents. People who learn their second language as children can easily pick up the language and often begin to forget their first language.

    Reply
    • Muh'd Habib -  July 29, 2015 - 4:47 am

      hi this is a great idea as you have just said, that it’s not just during infancy, yes exactly, but in my own view it’s by your experience

      Reply
  36. Lauri -  February 13, 2014 - 7:51 am

    I disagree. My brother and I were born and lived in Holland until aged 8 & 7 respectively from a Scots mother and Dutch father. We did not speak English but our mother spoke to us in both languages.
    Aged 8 & 7 we transferred to Scotland and spoke no more Dutch. My brother who has since lived there has a Scots accent. I went to London aged 17 and, after a Scots accent, developed a London accent.
    Neither of us have any Dutch accent.

    In my experience second-language learners will retain some accent from their original language above a certain age – probably from their early teens on. People with the right side of the brain more developed are generally better at language and picking up, or deliberately disposing of, any accent

    Reply
  37. Roxanne -  February 12, 2014 - 7:41 am

    My kid made all sorts of vocalizings when she was a little baby and then abandoned the ones that we don’t use in English (like the back of the throat -chh-). I figured it was because we were speaking English to her so those non-English sounds weren’t reinforced. But think it’s exaggerating to imply that the child of parents from Boston will sound — by default– like she’s from Boston. I know people who were raised in the US Midwest by parents from the East Coast with East Coast accents, and the kids sound like they’re from the Midwest.

    Reply
  38. Bob461 -  November 15, 2013 - 10:35 am

    7. One in 2,000 babies is born with teeth: Richard III, Napoleon Bonaparte, Louis XIV and Julius Caesar shared that distinction.

    8. A baby platypus or echidna is a puggle, a baby alpaca is a cria, a baby hawk is an eyas, a baby jellyfish is an ephyna and a baby hare is a leveret.

    9. Superstitious, pregnant women used to avoid eating strawberries, for fear their babies would have strawberry birthmarks.

    10. The word ‘infant’ comes from the Latin ‘infans’ which means ‘unable to speak’.

    Reply
  39. Bob461 -  November 15, 2013 - 10:35 am

    1. Every second, somewhere in the world, 4.45 babies are born and 1.8 people die.

    2. A newborn baby has around 300 bones. Many of these fuse together to leave an adult’s 206.

    3. Aristotle believed that the womb is divided into two halves, one for boy babies, the other for girls.

    4. He said that a woman wishing to conceive a son should lie on her right side, or on her left for a girl.

    5. Research in Germany in 2001 involving T-shirt sniffing showed that men are better than women at detecting the smell of newborn babies.

    6. The first baby born in Antarctica: Emilio Marcos Palma, was born in 1978.

    Reply
  40. Bob461 -  November 15, 2013 - 10:34 am

    babies don’t talk but they always want food and go to the bathroom. the yalso want a lot of milk and they don’t have that many teeth. They don’t wear underwear but they are very cute.

    Reply
  41. Jake -  December 12, 2012 - 7:37 pm

    COPYTALK WASSUPP BABIES ARE TERRIBLE AND THEY DON’T HAVE AN ACCENT!

    makes absolutely no sense

    Reply
  42. kathy -  December 10, 2012 - 10:06 am

    god bless that baby so cute

    Reply
  43. ameyer1 -  December 9, 2012 - 2:25 pm

    Babies are awful and I hope I never have one.

    Reply
  44. COPYTALK -  December 9, 2012 - 2:10 pm

    HI JAKE, what do you think about baby accents

    Reply
  45. COPYTALK -  December 9, 2012 - 2:02 pm

    COPYTALK SHOUT OUT BABIES GOT ACCENTS YO

    Reply
  46. Jonathan -  November 11, 2012 - 10:37 pm

    Yes a cute baby acint i have a kid of my own

    Reply
  47. denzlestrife -  November 1, 2012 - 8:48 am

    well, im 16 years of age and iv’e spoken engish all my life with the american accent but i stayed in new york for a while -(1 year)- and easely picked up their accent with no problem. but i cam back to texas and regained my normal accent fyi(people in texas do not have a brisk country accent im goth and speak pure english i dont say -yall,winder,yesh..) not that im pointing anyone out but no stereotypes please :)

    Reply
  48. Alex -  October 30, 2012 - 6:40 pm

    The problem is that the voicebox forms in those months, as the baby imitates what s/he hears (before speaking actual words). If s/he doesn’t speak those vowels then, s/he will never do so perfectly.

    Reply
  49. inky -  October 28, 2012 - 5:24 pm

    Actually the conclusion is false

    If you take a 2-3 yr old Russian baby and raise him in America with american parents, the baby will grow up speaking English with no accent just like any other american kids – even kids as old as 5 yr old can be “transplanted” to another country and learn to speak “just like the natives”

    it’s only after you reach a certain age, that you have trouble learning to speak a second/third language without an accent.

    Reply
  50. toby -  October 24, 2012 - 12:52 pm

    Hmmm… My mother was born up North and my father down south. After 1 or 2 years of living with him in Arkansas, she had developed a Southern accent. Now she does not have one. Are accents so fickle as to change within a matter of a year or more. I can impersonate an english accent just by watching youtube videos on a certain channel where the commentators are english. Still, I suppose that those are just variations of a language. An American who’s parents came from Russia would still have a Russian accent, no matter how slight.

    Reply
  51. maria -  October 23, 2012 - 4:26 pm

    Very interesting the way curiosity can lead us to new discoverys.

    Reply
  52. Kayla -  October 22, 2012 - 7:53 pm

    I always wondered how a person who lived in a foreign country for the first three years of their life before moving to the US could still retain their accent. Now I know!

    Reply
  53. lovedove -  October 8, 2012 - 8:56 am

    O.M.G. DEFINITELY MY HOMESCREEN

    Reply
  54. diamond -  October 6, 2012 - 4:15 am

    Babies are very intellegent beings!!! They pick up things very fast…So for them to have an accent is so possible. Never underestimate a baby, think twice cause they know things than you think they dont!! #I have lots of different accents so awesome…

    Reply
  55. Kim Akiwenzie -  October 3, 2012 - 8:57 am

    Scientists should do a study in uteros, as it seems according to this study babies respond more favorably to language of their family. Possibly if you exposed pre birth languages in uteros you may make interesting discoveries. Likely it will not be conducted because of the controversy of when a baby’s life is worth saving in the womb or out of the womb.

    Reply
  56. Kyler -  October 2, 2012 - 9:29 pm

    It is cool…

    Reply
  57. Nunya -  October 2, 2012 - 5:18 pm

    I wish I had an accent. They sound so kool. ☺ ♫

    Reply
  58. Awwesome -  October 2, 2012 - 2:44 pm

    Hi World

    Reply
  59. BBUbba -  October 2, 2012 - 2:44 pm

    I spoke 100 languages when I was a child (5 Years Old) I’m jk

    Reply
  60. Mystery -  October 2, 2012 - 2:43 pm

    I’m Cool And I Know It

    Reply
  61. t -  October 2, 2012 - 1:15 pm

    144 comments

    Reply
  62. t -  October 2, 2012 - 1:15 pm

    thats awesome

    Reply
  63. t -  October 2, 2012 - 1:14 pm

    Do babies speak with an accent?
    133 Comments
    Share
    We all know that infants don’t actually speak with an accent because they don’t really speak at all. But for a long time scientists presumed that infants’ brains could not process sounds at all. Professor Patricia Kuhl, the director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Learning at the University of Washington, wanted to test this notion. Kuhl studied infants between six and eight months whose parents spoke different languages, including English, Swedish, Japanese andRussian. Different languages are made of different types of sounds. Native English speakers have difficulty pronouncing the subtle vowel differentiations of French, while native Japanese speakers have trouble differentiating the l and r sounds of English. Because of these variations, Kuhl could test if a child of Russian-speaking families responded particularly to the sounds of the Russian language, or if their reaction to speech did not vary from language to language.
    In her experiments, Kuhl observed that the infants were more responsive to the sounds of their own language than to the sounds of other foreign languages—even before they were able to speak themselves. She discovered that babies as young as one year acquire the specific accented sounds of their parents and that the first year of listening makes a lasting impact on the way we speak for our entire lives. As she told Smithsonian magazine, “Our research shows that a kernel of that pattern of speaking begins to form in the brain well before actual production of speech. And by the time the baby’s first words do come, those distinctive characteristics are solidly in place.”
    (What exactly is an accent? Find out here.)
    This also helps explain why it is difficult for second-language learners to abolish their accents. The sounds of our first language are so primary it is formidable—if not impossible—to learn some sounds of foreign languages.
    What do you think of Kuhl’s research? Do you have other questions about language acquisition?

    Read more at http://hotword.dictionary.com/baby-accents/comment-page-7/#f5E8QRuXH0C8AOZF.99

    Reply
  64. t -  October 2, 2012 - 1:11 pm

    awesome.

    Reply
  65. t -  October 2, 2012 - 1:10 pm

    i think thats true

    Reply
  66. Tiara -  October 2, 2012 - 12:24 pm

    If hearing their own language makes them respond to the sounds of their language, I wonder what would happen if they were exposed to many languages.

    Reply
  67. kc -  October 2, 2012 - 11:19 am

    This confirms what I noticed last summer when I traveled to Italy. I’m absolutely certain that when I heard babies crying, their cry was different than the American babies I’ve heard. The cry of the Italian babies was inflected up and down, in the same manner people inflect their vowels when trying to imitate an Italian accent. It’s something I distinctly noticed and remarked to my friends at the time.

    Reply
  68. Mona -  October 2, 2012 - 10:02 am

    thats cute i do think babbies do have some sort of accent ;)

    Reply
  69. Mike Logan -  October 2, 2012 - 9:36 am

    I’ve always wondered whether a child has an inbred accent at Birth, before it even learns how to speak. If a Baby of any ethnic background is immediately removed from it’s Parents and given to others of a different kind, MY question has always been, will (for example) a Chinese baby adopted at Birth by a German couple, speak German WITH a Chinese accent?

    I took it one step further, and wondered whether a Leopard – abandoned by its Mother – was adopted by some Lions and grew up as a Leopard with a Lion’s way of communication.

    Hmmmmmm?

    Reply
  70. Pat -  October 2, 2012 - 9:21 am

    I have a theory that would like you to test if that is possible. i think that there are at least 5 languages that if learned at an early age will allow you to pronuonce any language perfectly throught your life. do you think this is quite far fetched? or is there truth here?

    Reply
  71. Brian -  October 2, 2012 - 7:48 am

    Wow that is a good topic for a school report.:)

    Reply
  72. NoMoreIdiocy -  October 2, 2012 - 3:00 am

    Article Title: “Do babies speak with an accent?”

    1st Sentence of the Article: “We all know that infants don’t actually speak with an accent because they don’t really speak at all.”

    So change the title of the article. You’re either being purposefully misleading or have a disturbingly low level of intelligence. Or both.

    Reply
  73. Matthijs -  October 2, 2012 - 1:08 am

    Why is the title almost completely unrelated to the content of the article? Why is only 15 year-old research mentioned, and nothing said about more recent work? Why all these questions?

    Reply
  74. Beyonce -  October 1, 2012 - 5:00 pm

    I think he right I’m not sure really well yeah. I think he’s right because some babies when their able to say they’re first word they might have an accent sometimes they don’t.

    Reply
  75. Kendall -  October 1, 2012 - 4:56 pm

    thats why I don’t understand chinese at all!, and i thought it was just like learning english.
    also thats really cool because it’s like learning a language your entire life and not even knowing that you have been learning languages even before you could talk!

    Reply
  76. amerisa -  October 1, 2012 - 4:48 pm

    This is so stupid! i do NOT agree. this is adisgrace to all scienc. Just kidding! i have read thestudy. It is beyond brilliant

    Reply
  77. lutvenia -  October 1, 2012 - 4:31 pm

    wow! i never knew that i wish i could go back in time and understand what i say that would be soooooo! nice.

    Reply
  78. JURAGG -  October 1, 2012 - 4:15 pm

    Disagree! because we can know accent if we grew up in the country where we live .. my friend is a Filipino but she has British accent, It is just by mere listening because our brain can cope up easily more so if we are in the process of growing up, It is unformidable

    Reply
  79. Ada Bella -  October 1, 2012 - 3:36 pm

    Actually, babies even begin crying with an accent when just a few days old.

    Reply
  80. Kyla B -  October 1, 2012 - 2:32 pm

    probably because the language and accent was closest to their parents whom they probably recognize therefore react to and relate to more so than the other languages

    Reply
  81. top gon -  October 1, 2012 - 1:08 pm

    Accent should have nothing to do with it. The big issue is whether or not the speakers (whether instructors or peers or parents or … whomever) observe proper rules of English grammar and word selection/vocabulary. I don’t mind struggling to understand someone’s pronunciation, but when the basic sentence doesn’t make any sense, I am not happy at all. My experience has shown that, the stronger the accent, the worse the grammar and the worse the word selection. I work closely with a person of Polish descent who considers himself to be linguistically without equal – which is a complete joke! Although I know he is highly intelligent, he’s not taken the time to learn English grammar. He does know the words – but has no clue how to put them together. Not only is he incapable of orally communicating properly, he likewise pens some of the worst nonsense I’ve ever encountered in emails and other written communications. But, if he can’t force his mouth and tongue around the words, that’s not something he can probably fix. And sometimes, with some people, it can be quite charming and entertaining, in fact. But he – and everyone else who is challenged to learn another language – CAN and MUST learn and practice proper grammar and proper vocabulary if they’re going to teach or model the English language. As an aside, Arizona pulls some real doozies, don’t they? I’m glad I don’t live in that constitutionally-challenged state.

    Reply
  82. Monica -  October 1, 2012 - 11:58 am

    Is there any research that looks at parents with different accents raising a child?

    Reply
  83. Dramas -  October 1, 2012 - 10:51 am

    Having 1 Child Makes You A Parent But Having 2 Makes You A Refree.

    Reply
  84. brian -  October 1, 2012 - 10:36 am

    This is weird. I don’t really believe it. sorry

    Reply
  85. Ger-glish Eng-man -  October 1, 2012 - 9:24 am

    Although I grew up in America German was my first language as a baby listening to my German Mom married to a GI who spoke Southern English but wasn’t around a lot when I was a baby, I can speak both languages now but have a better ear for German pronunciation then my siblings who are younger, born in the US and were exposed to older siblings and more of my dad’s speech. I think another interesting thing is what vowel sounds people use when hemming and hawing between words, it seems different from language to language –for example in English it might be “uh-umm” and it French it’s ” er uhr” in German maybe “ahh” and how some languages people speak very high sopranoish tones and in others in lower alto tones whether male or female.

    Reply
  86. Liz -  October 1, 2012 - 7:20 am

    This is very interesting. My boyfriend moved to the states from Poland just before he turned twelve. He had never spoken, let alone heard a word of English in his life. Of course have to adjust, he learned English and it’s nearly impossible to tell he ever spoke any language aside from English. The thing I find most interesting is around native English speakers, his English is flawless. But around his family and other Native Polish speakers, if they have accents and are speaking English, he picks up the accent instantly. I agree that it’s more of a response to an infants parents than anything. Although it is difficult to unlearn an accent it is quite possible.

    Reply
  87. jessica -  October 1, 2012 - 7:03 am

    Me & Daniela so agree with this article :)LMAOOOO

    Reply
  88. Bubba -  October 1, 2012 - 4:52 am

    This could be true. When I was a small child I mostly had the television for a babysitter. People say I sound like a cross between Walter Cronkite and Daffy Duck.

    Reply
  89. Nada -  October 1, 2012 - 1:52 am

    I speak English with a perfect American accent. I don’t think I was spoken to in any English at less than one year of age!

    Reply
  90. dash cam55 -  September 30, 2012 - 10:15 pm

    @ Clarissa Thomas
    Nothing wrong with having an Aussie accent cobber.

    Reply
  91. serena -  September 30, 2012 - 7:41 pm

    very intresting……:)

    Reply
  92. John Jaffe -  September 30, 2012 - 7:11 pm

    Although it’s well recognized empirically that if a child moves to a new country before the age of about 14, they will be able to eventually speak the new language without any accent.
    Conversely those arriving later will never speak the new language without an accent no matter how long they live in the new country, since that’s apparently when speech patterns get finally fixed in the brain.

    Reply
  93. daisy -  September 30, 2012 - 1:09 pm

    ”Kuhl observed that the infants were more responsive to the sounds of their own language than to the sounds of other foreign languages—even before they were able to speak themselves.”
    ….

    yeah… and apparently they also learn to crawl before they walk too….

    Reply
  94. Chris R. -  September 30, 2012 - 12:43 pm

    this would explain why peole don’t understand me very well. My primary language was spanish but I learned English first. My family is hispanic.

    Reply
  95. annzeta -  September 30, 2012 - 11:58 am

    When my son was 3 months old, I switched from speaking Greek (my mother language), to English, in order to make him bilingual. It was obvious from his facial expression that he immediately recognized that I was making different sounds than before. For a few days, he seemed quite puzzled, and then he got used to it.

    Reply
  96. Erica -  September 30, 2012 - 10:40 am

    Wow! I didn’t know that! :) BTW, in the list of English, Swedish, Japanese and Russian, it says English, Sweden, Japanese andRussian.

    Reply
  97. Sophie -  September 30, 2012 - 7:24 am

    What about people who grow up in multi-lingual families? I, for example have a Danish mother, German father, live in Poland all my life and I go to an international school? I speak Danish, German, English, Polish and i’m learning French and it all comes easily to me…I don’t know what to think

    Reply
  98. Kerri Molloy -  September 30, 2012 - 6:55 am

    But what if an infant is exposed to multiple languages in their first year of life? Say their father is French and their mother is English and both languages are spoken an equal amount around the baby. Would it just be a toss up of which one sticks, or would the infant develop a mixture of both?

    Reply
  99. Benita Okon -  September 30, 2012 - 6:26 am

    But there are some poeple who speak english and are good at speaking other languages…so how is it possible that babies would have an accent if some people didn’t know any other language(s).And there are also some poeple who travel around the world with their babies and learn different languages.doesn’t that mean that as the babies grow up they will have different accents?
    (age:9yrs)

    Reply
  100. Marco Rietveld -  September 30, 2012 - 3:00 am

    “The sounds of our first language are so primary it is formidable—if not impossible—to learn some sounds of foreign languages.”

    There’s enough research out there that has shown that it’s never impossible to learn to recognize or make the sounds of a non-native language.

    Reply
  101. sadir -  September 29, 2012 - 9:58 pm

    It may seem interesting, but if you think about it, it is obvious. Babies recognize best what they have been exposed. Speaking is not a cause, but only a long-term result of that exposure. We have to recognize our language and be able to differentiate it from other languages before we can speak it.

    Reply
  102. 7kud -  September 29, 2012 - 6:54 pm

    So….if I want my kid to speak with a British accent? Even though I am not British by any means. I should just speak to it with a British accent for it’s first year? Good to know. That was very interesting! =]

    Reply
  103. REV B R JONES -  September 29, 2012 - 6:26 pm

    I agree largely with the writer of the article, and many of the comments. There are cases I have run into with my work with children; cases where Hispanic babies–only a few months old– adopted into families which speak English, had trouble relaxing their tongues to speak with the southern drawl of their adoptive parents and siblings. More mysterious is the case where one of five siblings has always spoken with a British accent. We (his parents and I) would record him speaking when he was very young, and marvel at the way he spoke. Neither of his parents or any of his progenitors were even of English descent. (The postman wasn’t English either, by the way.)

    Reply
  104. Ruth Binah -  September 29, 2012 - 5:47 pm

    Baby hears one sound at home, another during test. Baby has never heard “different” sound so doesn’t respond (as much, or at all). Someone actually needed to spend money to figure this out?

    And didn’t they do this already, YEARS ago, with sounds that are in Alaskan/Inuit languages that don’t occur elsewhere, that babies/young children either learn in their first couple of years or can NEVER learn???

    I’m all for research. I’m NOT for research that duplicates previous research.

    Reply
  105. Jito -  September 29, 2012 - 4:47 pm

    Agree with the outcome. We have an American who has called Fiji his home for the last 40-odd years. He speaks Fijian like an islander! But never lost that twang when he rattles off in English!

    Reply
  106. lolifofo -  September 29, 2012 - 1:42 pm

    My Russian friend moved with his family to the U.S. when he was 3 or 4 years old. He doesn’t realize he pronounces r just like any ordinary Russian, unlike the lightly-pronounced r of American English. Everything else is good though. Maybe he’ll finally believe me if I show him this article. Haha

    Reply
  107. Chris -  September 29, 2012 - 1:31 pm

    The phoneme is considered the smallest unit of speech. Certain phonemes are reinforced when we are babies. The range has been noted from as few phonemes of about 11 or 12 in one language up to about 112 in a different language. When we grow and we don’t hear those different phonemes we tend to categorize what we do hear of different, non-native phonemes into what we have already been taught. However, it is not so strict because we can be trained to hear and distinguish different non-native phonemes as adults and sometimes when given ambiguous phonemes they can be categorized correctly. http://ilabs.washington.edu/kuhl/pdf/Iverson_Kuhl_2003.pdf

    It should be noted that some still teach “trimming” in which we are born with the full breadth of phonemes available and those which are unused are trimmed out. Dr. Kuhl references Werker & Tees, 1984 in Iverson et al., 2003 as having falsified the trimming hypothesis.

    Reply
  108. savieb -  September 29, 2012 - 12:30 pm

    its is a known fact and common sense that we all learn from our parents. its all on how we are were brought up in all areas..speaking,structure,self respect,respect for others,self love and so on..Must I say any more?? It is possible for all babies to learn their native language with accents or not… or whatever that language maybe..it is how we are taught to speak by our parents…Learn by examples…this subject is deep in many ways. I speak my native language, english and learning spanish. good topic.

    Reply
  109. Squeaky -  September 29, 2012 - 10:51 am

    and what about people who develop accents when they move abroad?

    Reply
  110. Squeaky -  September 29, 2012 - 10:49 am

    Ok so explain this to me, I have been born and raised in Wales and I have my Dad’s English accent more than a welsh accent and can understand Americans more than British people. My mate is also British but he has an American accent and I’m seriously not making this up and I have a mate from Africa that sounds more British than me. Let’s just say I’m a lot case here.

    Reply
  111. Squeaky -  September 29, 2012 - 10:37 am

    Did you know that you have just combined two of my favourite interests which are words and science? My word that is an interesting concept! I’ve never thought of that. I just assumed that children learnt to talk full stop and then developed an accent later on. Mm, interesting. Sounds genuine to me been as children react to sounds in the womb.

    Reply
  112. salama -  September 29, 2012 - 9:12 am

    it is an amazing research, i really loved it i would like to know more about the research and what are the next experiment.

    Reply
  113. marta -  September 29, 2012 - 8:17 am

    I think that human from birth is particularly sensitive to the sound of a voice, the face and gestures of others and especially if the others is a parent that is a point of reference for the newborn. if a parent used her child to a language purely madreligua the child will be taken to acquire that kind of accent and language. Therefore it could be difficult to acquire the correct accent of a foreign language.This is because the parent has used to express qualitatively and quantitatively with their native language.

    Reply
  114. Ashok -  September 29, 2012 - 5:55 am

    There are some people who have no problem acquiring proficiency in multiple languages even in later years. how does their brain system function/cope with the different language systems?

    Reply
  115. Tiff -  September 29, 2012 - 3:49 am

    Did anyone notice that on the cover title the author refered to babies as an “it” instead of “they.” I hope that was an oversight.

    Reply
  116. A reader -  September 28, 2012 - 11:24 pm

    I suspect that our brain is simply too complex and plaint for this sort of neat little conclusions from psychologists. Many people learn to speak a second language perfectly starting at as “old” as fifteen or sixteen.

    Reply
  117. A reader -  September 28, 2012 - 11:21 pm

    My kid grew up in a Cantonese environment but due to various reasons he never learned to speak it. Now he speaks only English. At 18, he tries to learn Cantonese. He is getting better, but his is definitely English accented Cantonese. Hmmm… if the author was right, shouldn’t he already have an ear for Cantonese, given that hespent his first year hearing it? Lets not be too eager to generalize.

    Reply
  118. Yumi -  September 28, 2012 - 5:20 pm

    I don’t necessarily agree to Kuhl’s generalisation of baby accents. It could remain valid to a percentage of the world’s population, but unlike a good theory it isn’t flawless and doesn’t apply to some. As a child born to Japanese parents in Australia, my first language was Japanese. However, since I have lived here my entire life, I have been told by people (even Japanese people themselves) that my accent is does not contain even a hint of Japanese. I have friends who are of Chinese, Korean, Italian, etc backgrounds and they are the same :) But this article certainly was interesting, it makes one think!

    Reply
  119. Ram -  September 28, 2012 - 3:13 pm

    I was not much surprised. Because I know two sisters and one of them had little dificulty in speech. While her younger sister was pregnant, both of them were living in one dwelling. Sister gave birth to a boy. I am sorry to say that this boy is 30 years old now and has the same problem as his aunty had. So I believe that babies learn language from the womb. I remember one lady told me that she was reading books while she was pregnant, because she wanted the child to learn the language faster. Dr.Kuhl’s finding may be true.
    I want to hear from anyone with a solution for this man who has some problem in his speech.

    Reply
  120. salim popatiya -  September 28, 2012 - 1:27 pm

    thats called early childhood development,which is known to world now.

    Reply
  121. Annamaria Cavasino -  September 28, 2012 - 1:14 pm

    This article is very interesting, because I think that children hear and learn the words taking into account the pronunciation and sounds that vary from region to region, in fact, when they hear an expression with an accent different from the usual , not immediately understand the meaning of the speech. Moreover this study conducted by Dr. Kuhl is confirmed by the fact that my cousins ​​who have 7 months of age do not understand my uncles, who are Catania and have a dialect entirely different from ours.

    Reply
  122. Nicole Prescott -  September 28, 2012 - 10:58 am

    So I was born in Colorado and moved to South Korea about 2 months later. I stayed there for just a little less than a year. I’m learning Spanish right now, but I can’t get the sounds right. Would it be easier for me to learn Korean, since I was around that language when I was younger?

    Reply
  123. accent learner -  September 28, 2012 - 10:05 am

    It is true, babies naturally acquire speech sounds by listening to the people around them, particularly their mother and father. This gives each child (with a few exceptions) their accent. It is reinforced by the accent of the general population around them, which is why some children of foreigners don’t have a strong accent from their native language.

    However, we are not stuck with the sounds we learned in our first year of life; it is possible to learn how to pronounce sounds from other languages and accents. Even if your ear cannot hear the distinction, you can learn how to shape your mouth to produce sounds the way a native speaker of another language does. Some people have more talent at this than others, and some have simply not learned how to do it. There are books and instructors out there who can train people to speak differently. This is what a speech therapist does, too.

    As many actors and multi-lingual people have demonstrated, it is far from impossible to acquire new speech sounds and a new accent.

    Reply
  124. Nani -  September 28, 2012 - 8:58 am

    What about a bilingual family
    What do they learn first?

    Reply
  125. Daphne -  September 28, 2012 - 6:42 am

    Oops, forgot to mention that Mom was born & bred here and that Dad’s father was a shunned Amishman, so you’d think that I’d had SOME south-central PA accent.

    Still would be an interesting addendum/study, I think.

    Reply
  126. Daphne -  September 28, 2012 - 6:41 am

    What about accents within regions of the same country (with the same language)? My family lives in south-central Pennsylvania. But, while use dialect and sentence structure from this region, my accent is much more northern, not at all the “Pennsylvania German” accent you’d usually hear. I’ve had several people ask me if I am from northern PA or even New York state.

    The only way I can figure is that my mom’s family was from northern PA area, and maybe she passed on the accent? I’d be interested in knowing more information about regional accents.

    Reply
  127. clare Bell -  September 28, 2012 - 5:45 am

    I can agree that parents will infleunce accent but I think that an accent can be lost or changed, because if some people move to other areas with strong accents for instance yorkshire to Liver pool or scotland then that person can develope the accent over time without conscius effort

    Reply
  128. Randa -  September 28, 2012 - 5:39 am

    Sounds cool! What if a variety of languages were played to them? Like, let’s say you buy several cds with songs on them, each song from a different language. Then you could play the cds all the time for the first three months, and just think how easy it will be for that person to learn those languages! Taking it even a step further- there is a bird that can mimic every sound imaginable. What if a variety of different noises were played to them? Probably, they would be able to make those sounds, too!

    Reply
  129. Melanie -  September 27, 2012 - 10:57 pm

    I completely agree. My native language is Freanch and I live in Australia. My son, when he wasn’t speaking yet use to make different sounds for me or other people like his dad (australian).When he was about 1 and started to speak, I remember a firend telling me- “oh he just spoke french to you!” Actually he wasn’t saying anything in particular, it was just baby talk but to my friend it sounded like french… Now he is 2 and a half, I have been speaking exclusively french to him from the start and he only speaks english, but, when asked he can repeat and prounonced french words perfectly, vowel and all.

    Reply
  130. Bianca -  September 27, 2012 - 9:54 pm

    There is a grammar error in this this information report! I don’t know whether to trust it or not.

    Reply
  131. Stephanie -  September 27, 2012 - 9:40 pm

    That would explain why, after living in a country for a very long time, you start to pronounce words the same way. The pattern in your mind changes after so long and begins to reflect the more often heard accent. Of course, once you go back to your native country you pick up your original accent much faster which is why, when you go back to where ever you currently live, your accent is so much stronger… if that makes any sense at all.

    Reply
  132. Xolo -  September 27, 2012 - 8:24 pm

    Who knows. I was raised in a household with four languages flying around (American English, Hebrew, French and Arabic) and by the time I went to school I was fluent in all of them. After starting in an actual school setting, I dropped all but two of those (English and Hebrew), however I can make appropriate sounds for each and many other language I’ve never spoken, mimic lyrics in songs appropriately, understand the general tone of a conversation for languages I spoke as a child and have absolutely no accent in the two languages I speak to this day. Somebody above mentioned something about a child picking up different accents easily; I too do this, and sometimes people become offended and think I’m mocking them before I even realize I’ve latched on to their accent.

    Reply
  133. I Can't Feel My Legs -  September 27, 2012 - 7:38 pm

    I agree with you, eugene (on September 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm):

    “Another interesting question is whether there are non-verbal (and willful) sounds that adults make that are shaped by their first or second language.”

    Yes, do adults or even people of younger ages make willful, non-verbal sounds (or verbal sounds not used in speaking, if that makes any sense) that are shaped and/or formed by their first or second language???

    I would love to know the answer to that one :)

    And if I can’t find it, I shall conduct a study myself :D

    Reply
  134. Bria -  September 27, 2012 - 7:05 pm

    In knew it!!!!!!!

    Reply
  135. sam the ant -  September 27, 2012 - 6:39 pm

    my cousin didnt know how to speak english until she was 6, and now when she talks chinese she has a really reallyreally(and i mean really) strong american accent. actually i have a slight american accent too, though my first language was chinese.

    Reply
  136. Megachamp -  September 27, 2012 - 6:20 pm

    The baby’s reaction was the same as mine! XD

    Reply
  137. Veresta -  September 27, 2012 - 5:27 pm

    So not true, I speak 9 languages fluently, no accent. And no I didn’t have multilingual or bilingual parents, and I didn’t travel around the world as a baby. Or at all for that matter. Anyway, all you people who’ve just read this and are discouraged toward learning a new language because of fear that you will have an accent that is impossible to erase, don’t be.

    Reply
  138. Anjelika -  September 27, 2012 - 5:16 pm

    Pretty cool, I kinda wished I had my Mum’s accent. But I have Papa’s :-(

    :-P

    Reply
  139. jonathan menashko -  September 27, 2012 - 3:05 pm

    simply intriging

    Reply
  140. bumbles -  September 27, 2012 - 10:47 am

    UK drawl, huh? There are many different accents in the UK, same as other English-speaking countries have different accents…

    This study might be right, but it is probably due to the parents talking to the kid – the kid recognizes the parents’ voices. As the child grows it picks up pronunciation and an accent from its surroundings, not a surprise really.

    Reply
  141. Tony El Mir -  September 27, 2012 - 8:19 am

    when you work in a kindergarten, you kinda notice that what Dr. Kuhl found out is an absolute fact

    Reply
  142. Tony Flanders -  September 27, 2012 - 7:58 am

    My daughter was adopted from India when she was 14 months old, and she has always had trouble with t’s and d’s, a complex of constants that’s profoundly different in North Indian languages from any European language.

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  143. Bruno -  September 27, 2012 - 7:51 am

    Same old, same old in Linguistics. Children start to understand and acquire language structures from the very age of 6 months.
    They shyly comprehend content word structures, such as some nouns and verbs, and that make up senses that establish a straightforward relation with the objects, or people in the world.
    Next, they start to learn function words, those that refer to words that bear more of a grammatical sense.Then, some months later, all of a sudden, they take off and hundreds of words are assimilated into mind. After that, children trudge through structures up to the age of 2 and a half or 3 months, some ones 4, until they reach quite a pitch in terms of pronunciation, meaning and structural usage.
    Without a huge suitable, complex sound-processing system, they would not be able to take on a new ability the way they do at early age.

    Reply
  144. Fatehan Shahid -  September 27, 2012 - 6:36 am

    The Jesus speaks after his birth in Indian ancient poetry “Mahabharta” the Abhimanuy listen the battle field story, the research says all fetus understand easily. The language which speaks by parents should understand easily by the infant.

    Reply
  145. Ness -  September 27, 2012 - 6:29 am

    This all sounds interesting…I’ve rest the rest of the comments and I’ am not surprised at all at some of the negative responses. Its part of the nature’s beast. Personally I believe its all possible, we don’t leave for for possibilities then there can be no vision/or evolution. All these things we never thought possible from years back have come to play…And why is that? Just food for thought.

    Reply
  146. christy -  September 27, 2012 - 6:14 am

    is impossible for an 8 months baby to speak

    and a baby can only learn how to speak the mother’s tongue first before other languages

    Reply
  147. Geoffrey -  September 27, 2012 - 5:58 am

    What about a baby adopted into a family of another nationality?

    Reply
  148. Snigdha -  September 27, 2012 - 5:42 am

    This is d power of Nature

    Reply
  149. Ellen -  September 27, 2012 - 5:25 am

    Was any research done in families in which each parent is a native speaker of a different language, for example: mother — Spanish; father — English or reversed?

    Reply
  150. Casey Hart -  September 27, 2012 - 5:08 am

    With accent being reinforced at such an early age, it shows the difficulty of becoming fluent at a second language

    Reply
  151. Atu, Lewis -  September 27, 2012 - 4:20 am

    It’s a pity. My little daughter is a victim of accent but we are trying our best, and she is improving tremendously.

    Reply
  152. Katrina -  September 27, 2012 - 4:19 am

    not suprising to me…My ten year old son speaks with a slight American accent despite the fact we moved here to New Zealand (I don’t have an American accent myself) when he was only 14 months old!

    Reply
  153. Mirel -  September 27, 2012 - 4:12 am

    I would take this with a grain of salt. I have met too many people who have learned a second language and have no accent (although many more, of course, who do).

    Reply
  154. FRGP -  September 27, 2012 - 3:19 am

    WOW AWESOME

    Reply
  155. glee -  September 27, 2012 - 1:53 am

    amazing..but definitely true!..primary language and accent are really hard to abolish and replace..although you already know many foreign languages, still, our own accent will remain..

    Reply
  156. Eloise -  September 27, 2012 - 1:23 am

    Wow!! Really gave me something to think about this morning! Fantastic discovery!

    Reply
  157. Nina -  September 27, 2012 - 12:36 am

    Then I’d love to raise my kid for a year in the UK. Get that English drawl in them..haha.

    Reply
  158. Isy -  September 27, 2012 - 12:35 am

    Does that mean if a baby’s parents frequantly spoke in tones of different accents it would have a hard time learning to speak and start talking a lot later?

    Reply
  159. Ali -  September 27, 2012 - 12:35 am

    Did they test whether the babies responded better to their own language by using the parents? If so it could just be a response to the sound of a familiar voice as opposed to the tones of their own language..

    Reply
  160. minecraft -  September 26, 2012 - 11:46 pm

    Intresting too second comment

    Reply
  161. Bob -  September 26, 2012 - 10:30 pm

    I think we can all agree that it really doesn’t matter. The internet, blimey.

    Reply
  162. jesus -  September 26, 2012 - 9:58 pm

    While we’re at it, let’s see whether dogs have accents.

    Reply
  163. interestedgal -  September 26, 2012 - 9:55 pm

    wow, i learned something new today!

    Reply
  164. emz -  September 26, 2012 - 8:33 pm

    ow!dat floored me

    Reply
  165. Clare -  September 26, 2012 - 8:32 pm

    Crud; so much for ever speaking perfect Spanish.

    Reply
  166. John -  September 26, 2012 - 7:54 pm

    This needs to be verified with more researches before we believe this. maybe a few more years, and more experts verification may prove this right.

    Reply
  167. diana -  September 26, 2012 - 7:44 pm

    how about babies who live in a bilingua home?

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  168. No One -  September 26, 2012 - 7:30 pm

    That’s really weird!

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  169. Lena -  September 26, 2012 - 7:27 pm

    Id rather eat dust then live a life with this baby their talking about

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  170. Anna -  September 26, 2012 - 7:19 pm

    WOW!

    Reply
  171. Judah -  September 26, 2012 - 7:15 pm

    I hadn’t thought about that, but it makes perfect sense.

    Reply
  172. Regeneration12 -  September 26, 2012 - 7:07 pm

    note to self: don’t have children until i can speak french, japanese, spanish, german, and russian fluently.

    Reply
  173. Alex -  September 26, 2012 - 6:51 pm

    That is complete and racist nonsense.

    Reply
  174. anony -  September 26, 2012 - 6:17 pm

    cool – did u know dolphins have accents too?

    Reply
  175. plasd -  September 26, 2012 - 5:43 pm

    wow

    Reply
  176. Adrian -  September 26, 2012 - 5:41 pm

    what about native speakers to two languages. is it easier for them to learn a third language without accent?

    Reply
  177. Farah chickha -  September 26, 2012 - 5:07 pm

    very interesting

    but i dont have any baby brothers or sisters

    only there now children

    young children

    but i am the oldest lucky for me

    Reply
  178. Katt -  September 26, 2012 - 4:40 pm

    KNOW IT!!!! :)

    Reply
  179. Mare Ane -  September 26, 2012 - 4:34 pm

    but if a French baby was adopted in a Russian language only place, what would they say then and would they have a french accent.

    Reply
  180. juliette -  September 26, 2012 - 4:28 pm

    Thats so cool i didn`t know that at all awsome!

    Reply
  181. Ryan -  September 26, 2012 - 4:24 pm

    Not exactly surprising, is it?

    Reply
  182. ?? -  September 26, 2012 - 4:21 pm

    Yes, very…

    Reply
  183. Mary -  September 26, 2012 - 4:20 pm

    I lived in China for four years as a baby and moved to the U.S. I don’t hear any asian accents in me. Is it still there?

    Reply
  184. luvmonkey -  September 26, 2012 - 4:00 pm

    I read something…somewhere that said scientists detected discernable differences in the cries of babies from different countries, suggesting that they absorbed some kind of ‘accent’ of their native languages while still in the womb.

    Reply
  185. !!!!!! -  September 26, 2012 - 3:52 pm

    Cute baby

    Reply
  186. Wilson -  September 26, 2012 - 3:46 pm

    Impossible. I didn’t even read it and I know!

    Reply
  187. Joseph -  September 26, 2012 - 3:29 pm

    Wow, I thought that babies didn’t have an accent.

    Reply
  188. amaris -  September 26, 2012 - 3:15 pm

    wow that is something i didnt know, you learn something new everyday :D

    Reply
  189. Emily -  September 26, 2012 - 3:11 pm

    Babies can… TALK? I mean…TALK. Babies…talking… but ACCENTS? This takes it to a whole ‘nother level.

    Reply
  190. Joe -  September 26, 2012 - 3:07 pm

    So… why can people quickly pick up accents in their own language? For instance, it is easy to imitate a Southern accent, or a British accent, etc…

    Reply
  191. Sara -  September 26, 2012 - 2:23 pm

    Omg! So cool! Totes bubbly!!!!!!!!!!!! My friend thinks that it is bogus! :)

    Reply
  192. Clarissa Thomas -  September 26, 2012 - 1:56 pm

    Interesting for sure. It may be that babies begin to form accents well before they talk, but can anyone explain why my daughter, born to a midwestern mom with a neutral accent (think television anchor, although I’m not one) and a southern dad with a real southern drawl, spoke with a British accent as a baby? At the age of about 8 1/2 months, she said “hot” with the accent when I told her with a neutral accent not to touch the stove because it was “hot”. Now that one has always baffled me, but as she grew, she continued to develop her accent. Normally she speaks with a very neutral accent, but occasionally she’ll lay on the country accent or British accent, except that over the years her British accent has taken on more of an Australian flare. I would say this is like any other study out there. It may be true for the majority, but not everyone falls into the majority. But then again, I have never done anything according to the book either.

    Reply
  193. Ivanna -  September 26, 2012 - 1:28 pm

    i want my baby to have a fench accent!! and i want to marry a guy from the U.K .

    Reply
  194. eugene -  September 26, 2012 - 1:11 pm

    This has been known by students of first and second language acquisition for some time already.

    But doesn’t your article title mention babies speaking, not merely recognizing?

    Another interesting question is whether there are non-verbal (and willful) sounds that adults make that are shaped by their first or second language.

    Reply
  195. ananomus -  September 26, 2012 - 12:55 pm

    English is my second language, but a lot of my friends said I don’t really have any accent. I do in some certain words though.

    Reply
  196. Joe -  September 26, 2012 - 12:35 pm

    Very cool, made me chuckle.

    Reply
  197. Ginger D. McFayden -  September 26, 2012 - 11:54 am

    I believe they speak what many have come to term the “angelic language”. There is some understanding before birth. It will take a child years to perfect the new language; after which, they leave the “angelic language” behind. It is a process which is developed along with the first steps in its life through growth!

    Reply
  198. JWR -  September 26, 2012 - 11:53 am

    You would guess that there is a lot going on before words come to a baby. They do react to certain words appropriately. As fast as new words come out of their mouths when they start using words and putting them together, there had to be a lot of learning beforehand.

    Reply
  199. Sam -  September 26, 2012 - 11:53 am

    That was great! I do agree with that.

    Reply
  200. Ray -  September 26, 2012 - 11:35 am

    “Mahmah, Pahpah,” “Maamaa, Paapaa,” “Muhmuh, Puhpuh…”

    We were taught to enunciate, and be not neglecting– It’s a practice, a meme, a discipline, a science, that pervades all human learning… Accents disappear when clarity is fully and recognizably expressed… Commingling communities commute accents onto styles seemingly affected by personal choice…

    Kuhl’s research would seem to belong to that category of brain-function theory that chopped up Einstein’s brain after he was dead, to see if that affected how he’d lived…

    Reply
  201. ????? -  September 26, 2012 - 11:21 am

    Interesting…

    Reply

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