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Q: In what sense do we actually study our native tongue before we're born?

A: By the sixth month after conception, microphone readings taken inside the uterus reveal that the fetus is responsive to sound and is exposed to the sound of its mother's muffled voice, says David G. Myers in "Exploring Psychology: Ninth Edition." All of us begin by hearing our culture's native language, the sounds of which get transmitted by vibration through Mom's body and to the developing embryo. Even as newborns, we turn our heads in the direction of the human voice, preferring Mom's voice to another woman's or to Dad's. Understandably, we also prefer hearing our mother's language.

And if Mom spoke two languages during pregnancy, the fetus displays interest in both. Just after birth, the melodic ups and downs of newborns' cries "bear the tuneful signature" of their mother's native tongue. Babies born to French-speaking mothers tend to cry with the rising intonation of French; babies born to German-speaking mothers cry with the falling tones of German. "Would you have guessed?" Myers marvels. "The learning of language begins in the womb."

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Local events heading

  Today is Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.

(More History)