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Soap Suds

Katalina Peterson

Transcriber, intern, & blog lead


Scripps College, ‘23


Linguistics & Spanish

How Kat would describe herself:

Ambivert. Bracelet collector. Future speech therapist.

Q&A with Kat

What interests you about this project?

This project is interesting to me because it takes into account not only the ways in which families are being affected by external events and hardships, but also by more subjective things like mood or financial struggles or tiredness. I’m also interested in looking at the role of language in shaping children’s learning environments and how the things that affect caregivers also trickle down to affect their children.

How would you describe your transcribing process?

When I transcribe, I like to get comfy on a couch with a blanket and usually an iced coffee somewhere nearby. I often will transcribe for about an hour or two at a time since it can be a very cognitively demanding activity, with lots of multi-tasking! It takes a few minutes to get into a flow, but once I do it becomes very easy to complete 2 or 3 recordings in one sitting!

What is your favorite part of transcribing?

My favorite part of transcribing so far is I feel like I’ve gotten to know my family’s routine. I was getting better at finishing their sentences before they did. I learned their songs and they got stuck in my head at times! I knew their dogs names, what they called grandparents, and that after bath time the other parent read a book to the child. I guess my favorite thing about all of that is that it makes the work more personable and the research seem not quite so detached from real people.

What are some of the most memorable moments?

There are a couple things that stand out to me. One is I really enjoyed observing the child’s language growth; for example, early on in the recordings, the mother would count the drops of bubbles put in the bath and the child wouldn’t speak. However, in later recordings, the child would start to count with the mother and repeat more diverse words, which was really heartwarming. Another memorable thing was quite heartbreaking—after transcribing 30 recordings, in the last one the mother said at the very end “this is our last recording, say bye bye” and the child sweetly saying “bye bye” before the recording stopped. I couldn’t help it, I teared up! That’s when I knew that this process had impacted me emotionally even more than I knew.

What would people be surprised to know about transcribing a project like this?

I think the emotional connection would be surprising to most people. I was also constantly thinking about how wonderful it was for these families to have these recordings to look back on the mundane and everyday things they would do with their children when they were younger. I thought of these recordings as little time capsules for these families and it even inspired me to record some small clips of playing with my baby niece and nephew.

What are you most excited about for the future of this project?

I feel as though this project could really shine a light on the areas in which parents need more support, whether that be parenting groups and resources, financial assistance, early language and literacy programs, and more. My hope is that this research joins that group of other fascinating research informing equitable policies that put families first through funding and awareness.

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