CHILDES Italian Roma Corpus

Elena Pizzuto (1950-2011)

Istituto di Psicologia CNR


Participants: 1
Type of Study: longitudinal
Location: Italy
Media type: no longer available
DOI: doi:10.21415/T5HP5H

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Project Description

Elena Pizzuto of the CNR in Rome has contributed these data in CHAT from a longitudinal study of a single child originally studied by Antinucci and Volterra. This corpus was collected in 1969 and 1970 as part of a language acquisition project at the Istituto di Psicologia in Rome. The male participant’s name is Francesco. He was taperecorded between 1;4 and 4;0. The data is morphemically coded. The data collected had as focus the child’s spontaneous language production with adults and the relevant contextual information during interaction. The transcription was morphemic rather than phonological and no attention was given to other features, such as paravocal.

Francesco was a bright, healthy child of middle-class, university educated parents living in Rome. Francesco’s mother worked part-time as a biochemist. During her absence, Francesco was cared for by a working-class maid. The maid spoke a lower-class Roman version of Italian and this might be considered as a possible influence on Francesco’s speech. Francesco attended preschool during the morning in the period from 2;6 (2 years, 6 months) through his fourth birthday. Francesco was a first-born child. His sister was born slightly before his third birthday. The mother’s pregnancy is an issue that clearly concerned him and is discussed several times in the records from about 2;6 to 3;0.

Francesco was studied from 1;4 to 4;0. He was visited in his home approximately every two weeks, and two-hour audio recordings were made at each visit. The observer was well known to the family, and the children were accustomed to the recording equipment. Sessions were for the most part spontaneous and unplanned, although the adults present tended to initiate games or other activities that encouraged the children to talk. Because both were highly verbal children, such encouragement was rarely necessary.

Transcriptions of the recording sessions include all child speech, all adult speech relevant to the child’s utterances, and information concerning the nonverbal context. The latter includes descriptions of the child’s play activities, actions by the adult which prompt comment by the child, and any contextual or background information clarifying the child’s communicative intentions. In Francesco’s case, observer Virginia Volterra was also a family friend present on many occasions outside the research periods. Hence her background notes and interpretations are a particularly rich and accurate source.

Some baby-talk forms include “nanno” for sleeping, “pupo” for child, “teta” for aunt, “bobo” for sweets, “Inni” for Virginia, and “Lalla” for Alessandra. In general, these transcripts contain insufficient information to be used to study phonological development, intonation, retracings, or speech acts.