It begins with creaking and growling sounds, becomes garrulous and culminates in the first “ba”, “ama” or “aga”. So that these linguistic precursors, called protophones, eventually become the first words, sentences, and phrases. Girls have always been better off with this language twist which has always been the same. But studies by a language research team led by Dr. Kimbra Oller of the University of Memphis, Tennessee, are now showing: Boys are significantly more “talkative” than girls in the first year.
“It is widely believed that girls have a small but significant advantage over boys in language,” says Dr. Kimbra Oller of the University of Memphis, Tennessee. “But it has been proven that boys make more speech-like sounds than girls in the first year.”
We suspect that this is because boys are at a higher risk of dying than girls in the first year of life.
Dr.. Kembro Uller of the University of Memphis, Tennessee
However, this is changing rapidly, according to the specialist journal.iScience“While boys had higher vocalization rates in year one, girls caught up to and outpaced boys by the end of year two,” says Oller, whose team studies language development in infancy and actually had no intention of studying gender differences. In an earlier, smaller study published in 2020 in the journalcurrent biology” Noon, they’ve noticed the effect before.
It was “heard” by nearly 6,000 children
Now they’ve been able to confirm it using a “massive sample,” according to Oller, of more than 450,000 hours of recordings throughout the day for 5,899 infants. In accordance with this, male children make 10 percent more sounds than female children in the first year. By the second year, the difference reverses, and female infants speak 7 percent more than male infants. And this is despite the fact that the adults in their care spoke more frequently to the females than to the males in both years.
Oller said the findings could fit an evolutionary theory that babies make lots of sounds early on to express their well-being and improve their chances of survival. “We suspect it is because boys are at greater risk of dying in the first year of life than girls.”
Because male children experience greater selection pressure in the first year, it’s especially important for them to educate their parents about their condition, Oller says. In the second year of life, when mortality rates decline, there is less stress on specific fitness signals in both boys and girls.