Observation and Transcription of Language Development

In this assignment, you will observe a series of videos that show children of different ages and adults as they retell what happened in a cartoon they watched to a research assistant who sits nearby. Although the intent of the original research study by Kita & Özyürek (2003) was to study different kinds of gestural communication, the videos also show the children and adults communicating using other social communication tools (e.g., speech, co-ordinated eye gaze, prosody, etc.). You will be identifying these different kinds of social communication in the videos you observe, and see how this social communication changes over the different age-ranges.

Review this Study

Özyürek, A., Kita, S., Allen, S., Brown, A., Furman, R., & Ishizuka, T. (2008). Development of Cross-Linguistic Variation in Speech and Gesture: Motion Events in English and Turkish. Developmental Psychology, 44(4), 1040-1054.

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This dataset "investigated how Manner and Path of motion events are expressed in speech and gesture. The participants were native speakers of English and Turkish. There were four age groups in each language: 3, 5, and 9 year olds, and adults. The participants were shown animated cartoons, and retold the story to a native speaker listener. There are 10 video clips depicting motion events involving simultaneous manner and path and two practice clips that resembled the main clips (Ozyurek, Kita, & Allen, 2001). The narration for each cartoon/clip was captured as a separate file. There are 10 files from each participant, and there are twenty participants in each of the 12 language-age groups for a total of 2400 small files." (Childes website)

To find the files:

Go to:


https://childes.talkbank.org/browser/index.php?url=XLing/MDT/english/ (Links to an external site.)

You will find a series of video clips and transcriptions, that are divided based on the age of the participants:

  • e3 = 3 year olds
  • e5 = 5 year olds
  • e9 = 9 year olds
  • ea = adults

The code for each video clip in the media file is: The first letter of the file name indicates the language (e = English). Next the number indicates the age group (3 = years old, 5 = 5 years old, 9 = 9 years old and a = adult). Then comes the participant ID, gender, then four letters for each of the ten cartoons.


1. FIRST READ Özyürek, A., Kita, S., Allen, S., Brown, A., Furman, R., & Ishizuka, T. (2008). Development of Cross-Linguistic Variation in Speech and Gesture: Motion Events in English and Turkish. Developmental Psychology, 44(4), 1040-1054.

2. SELECT 4 VIDEOS that represent individuals at 4 different ages (3, 5, 9 years and adults = one video per age group) and 2 genders (= 2 boys-2 girls or 1-3) . Observe the types of social communication tools you see in place for individuals of different ages. You will have to focus on gesture and extralinguistic tools that individuals are using at different ages.

3. Then proceed to the TRANSCRIPTION of the videos – these transcriptions will be used to support your observations about social communication that you make in your paper.

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