CHILDES English Warren Corpus

Amye Warren-Leubecker
Department of Psychology
University of Tennessee


Participants: 54
Type of Study: naturalistic
Location: USA
Media type: audio
DOI: doi:10.21415/T51G6G

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Project Description

This subdirectory contains data from 20 children interacting either with their mothers or their fathers. The families are White and middle-class, but nonprofessionals. One group of children was aged 1;6 to 3;1 and the other group was aged 4;6 to 6;2. Ten of the children were in the “older” group, (Mean age of 64.7 months, SD = 8.25, range from 4;6 to 6;2) and ten are in a “younger” group (Mean age of 26.5 months, SD = 5.99, range from 1;6 to 3;1). Half of the children in each age group were boys and half were girls. Each child spoke to his or her mother and father in successive dyadic, separate sessions. The order in which they spoke to mother or father was randomized. The sessions took place in the child’s home, normally in a living room or den area, with the child’s own toys or books present to facilitate conversation. The experimenter was either not present in the room (set up the tape recorder and left it behind) or was in an isolated part of the room where the child could not easily see her.

Parents were instructed to play with or talk to their children as naturally as possible. They were instructed to bring out the child in conversation, and the only limitation was that neither child or parent was to actually read to the other. The parents were told that the experimenter was interested in how language develops, and was tape recording children of various ages for a project. Actually, the purpose of the project was to examine the fundamental voice frequencies used by mothers versus fathers when speaking to children, and the parents were subsequently informed that the ex-perimenter was less interested in the child’s speech than in their own. A Revox reel-to-reel recorder and omnidirectional microphone were used and all home background noise was eliminated. Each session with mother or father lasted at least 15 minutes, possibly up to half an hour. Thus, each child conversed for at least half an hour. The recordings were transcribed verbatim by the experimenter using the common English alphabet. Phonetic approximations were used for any uninterpretable speech segments, and for common “slang” phrases (e.g., “gonna,” “wanna,”“doin,” and “uh-huh”). Moreover, care was taken to approximate dialectical variation in pronunciation. All of the parents lived in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, but did not have “Southern” accents. None of the parents or children had any obvious speech disfluencies, and none of the children were language delayed. The transcripts were compared for mother-directed speech.