‘EMMA’ corpus: a resource for research and teaching

Multilingualism Research Group lunchtime seminar

Cambridge Language Sciences
November 19, 13.00-14.30
GR05, Faculty of English
DTAL 's 'EMMA' corpus: a resource for research and teaching

Dr Edith Esch (University of Cambridge)

This session will be a presentation of the EMMA corpus, which was recorded between July 1982 and July 1983 in the studio of theLinguistics Department (then located in a cricket pavilion now buried under the Law Faculty building). 

The  project was originally funded by the British Academy. It was intended from the start as a resource for the longitudinal analysis of the phonetic development of a bilingual child from the onset of speech until the moment when both languages are clearly separated.  Emma was born on 9th Feb 1981 and she was brought up from birth in the UK in a bilingual family (dad English speaker, mum French speaker) working on the principle of ?French at Home ? English outside?. The aim was to throw light on the nature of children?s phonological acquisition and in particular their ability to acquire and use two different phonological systems and sets of phonological distinctions by observing their production of the phonetic cues on which phonological oppositions are based.

Overall, the corpus consists of 50 sessions of 30 minutes each. Each session consists of three ten minute parts, one taking place in French with Emma?s mum, one taking place in English with Emma?s child-minder, Mrs F, and the third one in English with Mrs F and another little girl  four months older than Emma, Joanne. The corpus was digitised throughout last year by Howard France, the AVA technician of the Central Sites of the University, and it is now available to the students and members of DTAL. I will explain how the original recordings were made as well as the decisions which had to be made at the digitisation stage.