BilingBank Hebrew-English Blum/Snow Corpus

Shoshana Blum-Kulka (1936-2013)
Department of Communications
Hebrew University

Catherine Snow
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Harvard University


Participants: 19
Type of Study: naturalistic
Location: Israel & USA
Media type: audio
DOI: doi:10.21415/T5V59Z

Browsable transcripts

Download transcripts

Media folder

Citation information

Publications using these data should cite:

Additional relevant references include:

In accordance with TalkBank rules, any use of data from this corpus must be accompanied by at least one of the above references.

Project Description

This corpus includes data from the Family Discourse Project, carried out in two stages between 1985 to 1988 and 1989 to 1992. The research was funded by two grants from the Israeli-American Binational Science Foundation, grant No. 82-3422 to Shoshana Blum-Kulka, David Gordon, Susan Ervin-Tripp, and Catherine Snow as consultant, and grant 87-00167/1 to Shoshana Blum-Kulka and Catherine Snow. Three groups of families were involved in the project: native born Israeli families from Jerusalem, American-born Israeli families living in Israel, and American-born Jewish families living in Boston. The project was carried out in two stages. Stage one included 34 families and stage two included 24 families.

A monograph by Blum-Kulka (1997) is devoted to the analysis of these data. The book demonstrates the ways talk at dinner constructs, reflects, and invokes familial, social and cultural identities and provides social support for children to become members of their parents’ culture. The groups studied are shown to differ in the ways they negotiate issues of power, independence and involvement through speech activities such as the choice and initiation of topics, conversational story-telling, naming practices, metapragmatic discourse, politeness, language choice, and code-switching. The transcripts in the CHILDES database include two types of files from stage two. The first type includes transcripts of one dinner table conversation per family from eight native Israeli and eight American Israeli families. The families were taped in their homes in Jerusalem (Blum-Kulka). The second type includes transcripts of one dinner table conversation per family from eight Jewish American families. The families were taped in their homes in Boston (Blum-Kulka and Snow).

Families are identified by group and number, and participants are identified by role for adults and by name for children. The names of the children in the corpus are pseudonyms. The families in the project were middle-class and upper-middle-class, white-collar professional, nonobservant Jewish families from a European background from Israel and the United States. All parents were at least college educated and were occupied professionally outside the home. Most parents were at the time of data collection in their late 30s or early 40s (mean age 41, range 34 to 54). Families had two, three or four children; the ages of children ranged from 3;1 to 17;2. By design most children are at the school-age of 6;1 to 13;5. Further information about the ages of the children is given below. A participant observer taped three family dinners over a period of 2 to 3 months. Recording started when the family began to gather around the table and stopped when they left the table. Meals lasted on the average from 1 to 1.5 hours. One meal per family was transcribed in CHAT.

Group 1: Native Israeli Families

The parents in this group are all Israeli born. The language spoken at dinner is Hebrew.

FamilyChildren’s Age and Sex
112;00 m   10;5 m
213;2 m   11;4 m   5;2 f
416;1 m   12;2 f   8;6 m
513;1 m   10;8 m   4;0 f
66;2 f   6;2 f
810;5 f   8;7 m
98;8 m   5;6 m
1011;5 f   8;3 f   3;2 m

Group 2: American Israeli Families

The adults in the American-Israeli families were born in the United States and lived in Israel for more than 9 years at the time of the study. Twenty-five of the children were born in Israel and four in the United States. All members of the family are competent bilinguals. Both English and Hebrew are used; the rate of English varies by family from 30% to 96%.

FamilyChildren’s Age and Sex
111;4 m   7;2 f
28;0 m   6;1 m
39;0 m   6;3 m
417;2 m   13;4 f   9;4 f   7;5 f
615;10 m   13;11 f   5;5 f
713;11 f   12;4 f   9;0 f
812;9 f   9;5 m   5;8 m
1212;2 m   8;4 f

Group 3: Jewish-American Families

This set includes dinner conversations in English from eight middle-class Jewish American families from Boston. The families were taped in their homes.

FamilyChildren’s Age and Sex
115;5 f   13;5 f
28;5 m   6;1 m   4;4 m
310;0 m   5;11 m
47;5 m   4;3 m
99;5 m   7;3 f
1010;4 m   8;2 f   3;1 m
1111;7 m   9;6 f
1213;4 f   10;1 f   4;1 m

The coding schemes developed for the analysis of family discourse include:

  1. The Topical Actions Code (analyzes conversational topical actions such as the in-troduction, change, and shift of topics);
  2. The Request Code (analyzes the speech act of directives);
  3. The Narrative-Event Code (analyzes narrative segments from both the interactive and structural perspectives);
  4. The Metapragmatic Comments Code (analyzes metapragmatic comments made with regard to turn-taking, conversational norms, and language).