Bernstein Ratner Corpus
Nan Bernstein Ratner
Hearing and Speech Sciences
University of Maryland
| Participants: || 9 |
| Type of Study: || naturalistic |
| Location: || USA |
| Media type: || audio |
| DOI: || doi:10.21415/T5CC7X |
Link to media folder
Bernstein, N. (1982). Acoustic study of mothers’ speech to
language-learning children: An analysis of vowel articulatory
characteristics. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Bos-ton University.
Bernstein Ratner, N. (1984a). Patterns of vowel modification in
motherese. Journal of Child Language, 11, 557–578.
Bernstein Ratner, N. (1984b). Phonological rule usage in mother–child
speech. Journal of Phonetics, 12, 245-254.
Bernstein Ratner, N. (1985). Dissociations
between vowel durations and formant frequen-cy characteristics. Journal
of Speech and Hearing Research, 28, 255–264.
Bernstein Ratner, N. (1986). Durational cues which mark clause boundaries in mother child
speech. Journal of Phonetics, 14, 303–309.
Bernstein Ratner, N. (1987). The phonology of parent child speech. In K. Nelson & A. Van Kleeck
(Eds.), Children’s Language, 6. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Bernstein Ratner, N., & Pye, C. (1984). Higher pitch in baby talk is not
universal: Acoustic evidence from Quiche Mayan. Journal of Child
Language, 11, 515–522.
In accordance with TalkBank rules, any use of data from this corpus must be accompanied by at least one of the above references.
The participants were nine mother–child dyads who were
followed for a period of 4 to 5 months each. Each dyad has three
transcripts. The mothers were all college-educated women, who were
native-born Americans with white-collar husbands. The children (all
girls) ranged in age from 1;1 to 1;9 at first taping. The ages of each
child are posted on the very first line of each transcript file. Three
of the children began the study as prelinguistic infants (Kay, Amelia,
and Dale). Three began as “holophrastic” language users (Alice, Cin-dy,
and Marie). Three began and finished as multi-word utterance producers
(Lena, Gail, and Annie). These names do not correspond to those listed
in either Bernstein (1982) or some subsequent articles, due to the
request by CHILDES to provide pseudonyms. Children in each of the first
two groups made significant linguistic progress into higher lan-guage
stages during the course of the study
Children and their
mothers played for approximately 45 minutes at each session with the
same selection of toys (blocks, stuffed animals, puppets, books, and so
forth). Most of the sessions were followed by a parental interview.
These interviews are collected in a sub-directory entitled “interview.”
The purpose of the interview was to gather a sample of the mothers’
speech for comparison against the mother–child condition. In order to
obtain ex-emplars of mother-adult words to match to the mother–child
condition, the questioning sometimes wandered. In addition, to save
transcription time, the mothers’ responses to the investigator’s
questions are provided, but the investigator’s comments are omitted.
These transcripts were derived from reel-to-reel audiotaped
interactions carried out in a sound-proof playroom at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology Research Laboratory of Electronics during 1979
and 1980. The original inquiry regarded phonetic characteristics of
maternal speech. The quality of the audio recordings of both mothers and
children is extremely fine. Mothers wore lavaliere microphones with
Sony™ ECM-50s and the interac-tions were taped on a Revox™ A77. These
tapes will be made available to any researcher who requests them, with
the provisos that the researcher receive some sort of authorship credit
for subsequent research derived from them, and that the costs of
materials and labor to duplicate the tapes be borne by the requesting
The children’s language skills were not a primary focus of any of the
research carried out to date using these samples. As a result, although
phonetic transcriptions of the children have been provided, they are
very rough. Given the notorious difficulty of obtaining reli-ability in
the transcription of prelinguistic and early child phonetic strings, it
is recommend-ed that any researcher interested in doing a phonological
analysis of the children’s data request the original audiotapes. The
children are transcribed in UNIBET, with minimal fine detail. To create
uniformity, and to read as little as possible into the children’s
output, most of the children are phonetically transcribed, even when
their productions appear to corre-spond to adult forms. The majority of
the children’s productions are phonetic, rather than phonemic, given the
ages of the children. Some of the older children’s transcripts include
regular English orthography.
Amelia was a
nonidentical twin. Her mother’s speech to the other twin girl was also
re-corded for 6 months, but has not been provided. It is available on
request. A series of three tapes of a mother conversing with a girl
thought to be language-delayed and eliminated from the first and
subsequent studies is available without transcript. Finally, a girl
having linguistic skills similar to Lena, but with a more talkative
mother, was taped for a manuscript in preparation and can be provided
without transcription. Copies of the dissertation (Bernstein, 1982) can
be obtained upon request, as can more information about particular
participants or other issues. Please feel free to contact Dr.
Bernstein Ratner if you have questions regarding these samples.