The Childes Project: Tools for Analyzing Talkby Brian MacWhinney
Language research thrives on data collected from spontaneous interactions in naturally occurring situations. However, the process of collecting, transcribing, and analyzing naturalistic data can be extremely time-consuming and often unreliable. This book describes three basic tools for language analysis of transcript data by computer that have been developed in the context of the Child Language Data Exchange System (CHILDES) project. These are: the CHAT transcription and coding format, the CLAN package of analysis programs, and the CHILDES database. These tools have brought about significant changes in the way research is conducted in the child language field. They are being used with great success by researchers working with second language learning, adult conversational interactions, sociological content analyses, and language recovery in aphasia, as well as by students of child language development. The tools are widely applicable, although this book concentrates on their use in the child language field, believing that researchers from other areas can make the necessary analogies to their own topics.
This thoroughly revised 2nd edition includes documentation on a dozen new computer programs that have been added to the basic system for transcript analysis. The most important of these new programs is the CHILDES Text Editor (CED) which can be used for a wide variety of purposes, including editing non-Roman orthographies, systematically adding codes to transcripts, checking the files for correct use of CHAT, and linking the files to digitized audio and videotape.
In addition to information on the new computer programs, the manual documents changed the shape of the CHILDES/BIB system--given a major update in 1994--which now uses a new computer database system. The documentation for the CHILDES transcript database has been updated to include new information on old corpora and information on more than a dozen new corpora from many different languages. Finally, the system of CHAT notations for file transcript have been clarified to emphasize the ways in which the codes are used by particular CLAN programs. The new edition concludes with a discussion of new directions in transcript analysis and links between the CHILDES database and other developments in multimedia computing and global networking. It also includes complete references organized by research topic area for the more than 300 published articles that have made use of the CHILDES database and/or the CLAN programs.
LEA also distributes the CLAN programs and the complete CHILDES Database--including corpora from several languages and discourse situations--described in The CHILDES Project. Be sure to choose the correct platform (IBM or Macintosh) for the CLAN programs; the CHILDES Database CD-ROM runs on both platforms.
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