"Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language."
New research suggests that you might want to be careful about what you say around babies. As every parent knows, young children are sponges that easily absorb knowledge from their surroundings. Now there is research that indicates that by seven months of age, infants have already absorbed the basic rules of language.
In this study, seven month old infants listened to a sequence of syllables in which the third syllable was the same as the first. One that was used was "ga to ga." After listening to different versions of the same pattern, the infants were given a new sequence in which the last two syllables were the same, such as "wo fe fe." Researchers found that babies looked in the direction producing new sequences much longer, showing curiosity and surprise at them. Further study of the infants' responses showed that they were responding to new sounds and not just changes in the pattern of syllables. This study supports the idea that we are born with brain circuits that are, so to speak, prewired to learn and use grammar, say researchers.
The question for those who believe that we are the product of chance evolution is: How did we get prewired for learning and using grammar if we are the result of chance forces? The answer is, of course, that when God created us, He not only gave us the gift of language, but He gave us brains that are eager to learn language from infancy. Then He gave us His Word of salvation in Jesus Christ, so that He would not lose us.
Notes: B.B. "Follow the rules, baby", Science News, 1/16/99, v. 155, p. 42.
Diagram: Courtesy of James.mcd.nz. (CC-BY-SA 4.0)
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