Fundamental frequency variation within neonatal crying: Does ambient language matter?

Kathleen Wermke, Johanna Teiser, Eunice Yovsi, Paul Joscha Kohlenberg, Peter Wermke, Michael Robb, Heidi Keller, Bettina Lamm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Objective: Evaluate the fundamental frequency (fo) variabilty of spontaneous cries produced by neonates with tonal (Lamnso) and non-tonal (German) ambient language. Study Design: Populational prospective study. Participants: A total of 21 German infants (10 male) and 21 Cameroon (Nso) infants (10 male) within the first week of life served as participants. Methods: Spontaneously uttered cries by each infant were audio recorded. The cries were acoustically analyzed and measures of fo variability (pitch sigma, fo fluctuation, fo range) were calculated. Cry duration and anthropometric measures were calculated as co-factors. Results: Significant group differences were found for all fo variability measures, whereas somatic measures did not differ. Cry duration also differed significantly between groups. The results were indicative of Cameroon (Nso) infants producing cries with more fo variability compared to German infants. Conclusion: Albeit further studies with a larger sample size are warranted, the data foster previous findings of an early imprinting effect of the ambient maternal language on cry fo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-217
Number of pages7
JournalSpeech, Language and Hearing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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