Frog Story Corpora

Researchers in many countries have used Mercer Mayer’s wordless “frog story” picture book entitled “Frog, where are you?” as a tool for eliciting narrative descriptions. The book tells a story without words in 24 pictures. The principle source for documentation of this work, its rationale, and the various data analysis procedures is the book by Berman and Slobin (1994). Because that book provides such complete documentation for this project, the current documentation will only cover the general issues in the research. Researchers can also consult that book for a complete listing of research in additional languages and with second-language learners using the Frog Story framework.

The same procedures were followed across different age groups. Each participant was interviewed individually and was given the same instructions (with slight variations for adults, preschool children, and older children). A deliberate effort was made to minimize the burden on memory, and to make children aware in advance that they were being asked to tell a story. To this end, children were first asked to look through the entire booklet, and then to tell the story again, while looking at the pictures. They were explicitly oriented to the booklet as presenting a “story” in the initial instructions: “Here is a book. This book tells a story about a boy [point to picture on cover], a dog [point], and a frog [point]. First, I want you to look at all the pictures. Pay attention to each picture that you see and afterwards you will tell the story.”

Because the goal was to leave the burden of narration on the child, without scaffolding by the adult, the various adult interviewers were instructed to minimize their verbal feedback to neutral comments that would not influence the form of expression chosen by the child. It was especially important that the interviewer avoid prompts that would lead to a particular choice of verb tense, aspectual marking, or perspective on the part of the child. The following prompt types were used, presented below in English, in order of preference (neutrality): (1) silence or nod of head, (2) “uh-huh,” “okay,” “yes,” (3) “Anything else?” (4) “and...?”(5) “Go on.”

For most of the languages, groups of 12 participants were recorded at several different age levels. The file names give the age level of the participant along with a letter. The files were originally transcribed in a format specified in the Berman and Slobin manual and then converted to CHAT in 1995. The conversion to CHAT was straightforward except for the English Berkeley data which will need some additional double-checking to eliminate inaccuracies. During the conversion, pictures were marked with @g headers. Researchers have used two different systems for marking picture or page numbers. One system uses 1a and 1b for left and right pages. The other system numbers pages without regard to left-right position. Here are the correspondences between the two systems: 1 1 6a 9 11 17 2a 2 6b 10 12a 18 2b 3 7 11 12b 19 3a 4 8 12 13a 20 3b 5 9a 13 13b 21 4a 6 9b 14 14a 22 4b 7 10a 15 14b 23 5 8 10b 16 15 24
Here is a brief page-by-page description of the pictures in Frog, Where Are You? by Mercer Mayer (1969). The pictures from the book and additional guidelines from Berman and Slobin can be found in

The data from Berkeley, Israel, Germany, and Rome were collected in the context of a project directed by Dan I. Slobin and Ruth A. Berman with support from the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (Grant 2732/82), the Linguistics Program of the National Science Foundation (Grant BNS-8520008), the Sloan Foundation Program in Cognitive Science, the Institute of Human Development at UC Berkeley, the Committee on Research of the Academic Senate at UC Berkeley, and the Max-Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. The Turkish data were gathered with support from the Bogazici University Research Fund (Project No. 86 B 0724). The Swedish project was supported by a Swedish Tercenary Foundation grant to Sven Strömqvist (Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, grant 91-231:01). The collection of the English corpus from Wolf and Hemphill was supported by a Program Project grant from NIH on the “Foundations of Language Assessment.” The data from Miami were collected in conjunction with the Bilingualism Study Group Literacy Grant, supported by NIH Grant #1R01 HD 30762-01 to D. Kimbrough Oller and Rebecca Eilers.

For a full description of the data collection methods, codes, and analyses followed in most of these studies, please consult this basic work that should also be cited in publications using these data:

Berman, R. A., & Slobin, D. I. (1994). Relating events in narrative: A crosslinguistic developmental study. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Mayer, M. (1969). Frog, where are you? New York: Dial Press.