1. Code each pass according to definitions in Datavyu Communication Codes
  2. Run Ruby script to check for typos

Mom communication pass

Datavyu Communication Codes for Mom

There are 4 columns associated with mother communication  codes: id for communication, mom speech column, mom utterance type  column, and a comments column for communication.

Communication id Column

Column name: com_id

Code: (<lab_id>, <com_coder>, <childcom_date>, <childcom_mins>,  <relchildcom_coder>, <relchildcom_date>, <momcom_date>, <momcom_mins>,  <relmomcom_coder>, <relmomcom_date> <gest_date>, <gest_mins>,  <relgest_coder>, <relgest_date>)

Code the com_id_column according to the definitions for coding the id column.

Mom communication Column

Column name: momutterancetype

Code: (<directives_look_l_do_d_comm_c>,<prohibitions_p>,<provideinfo_i_maintainengage_m>,<read_r_sing_s>,<filleraffirmation_f>,<unintell_x_notchild_z>)

General Orientation

You will receive video files that have been transcribed by the PLAY team. For the Mom communication pass, the focus is on utterances with “m” as the source. Each utterance will have it’s own corresponding, time matched cell, in the momutterancetype column.

Transcription column Orientation

Mother speech cells will include the utterances produced by the mother. A cell can contain full words or a code that denotes that a part of an utterance or a full utterance was unintelligible to the transcriber. The column does not include laughs, sighs gasps, vegetative sounds, and some sounds effects.

The code xxx denotes instances in the transcript where part or all of a mother’s utterance were unintelligible to the transcriber. This xxx code can help you code for communication in the momutterancetype column. However, do not solely rely on the transcript contents to code for communication as the operational definitions for codes used during transcription ARE NOT the same as the definitions for communication coding.

Some utterances include the symbol //. This indicates that an utterance had a pause, and was divided into two. Utterances with // and the following utterance go together, and should be coded as the same code.

Momutterancetype Orientation

In the momutterancetype column, coders categorize the utterances in the transcribe column as a specific type of speech form. Read the utterance transcribed in the transcribe column and categorize each utterance based on codes detailed under Value List below.

Codes are mutually exclusive. The prompts/arguments in the code are designed to speed the coder through the easiest to detect and easiest to code categories that happen less frequently (directives to look, do , and communicate, prohibitions, etc. ) down through the more nuanced and time-consuming codes. Once the proper code has been found, enter it into the prompt you are at, then code the rest as periods ”.”. For instance, if the mother didn’t direct the child to look, act or communicate, but did prohibit them from performing a certain behavior, code <.,p,.,.,.>.

Context matters! Always consider the communicative intent of an utterance.

Do not rely solely on the transcript to determine the category of mother language. Always watch and listen to the video as you read the transcript because tone, context, and other factors can help discern how to code the mother’s statement (e.g., what appear to be questions can be intended to direct the child’s actions, or the same phrase could have different meanings in different contexts). It may be helpful to ‘translate’ what the mother is truly saying. Many times she will say a lot of words but mean very little. She will ask questions that on their surface require a response, but are simply to get the child’s attention and keep the flow of conversation going. For example, “What should we do now?” is rarely actually the mom asking the child to say or do anything; she is saying “I am waiting for you to act.” Think about the pragmatic ‘translation’ of the mother’s intent, what is happening on video, and what has just happened on video when marking pragmatics, rather than focusing on just that utterance’s words.

Be conservative! If you have narrowed down an utterance to two codes and can’t decide which to code as, choose the lower level code (e.g., if you are between coding an utterance as maintenance and provide information, code as maintenance).

After completing the coding pass for the entire video, coders should rewatch the first 5 minutes in order to recheck their codes to ensure that they did not miscode any utterances. Coders must do this because there are individual differences in mother’s intonation and communication styles, which coders become more attuned to after extensive experience coding for that mom.

Value list


l = directive to look

d =  directive to do

c = directive to communicate


p = prohibit/correct


i = provide information/referential

m = maintenance and engagement


r = reading

s = singing


f = filler or affirmation


x = unintelligible

z = not directed to child

Operational Definitions

Directive to look (l)

Utterances that function to direct the child’s attention, which may include naming the object or activity of attention. Utterances such as “Look”, “Look at the truck”, “Hey”, or calling the child’s name with the intent to have them look at her are examples of directives to look. The main function of the utterance is to encourage a child to attend to something in the environment.

Additional Guidelines and Rules:

Words like “here” or “over there” are sometimes used to direct the child’s attention, but they should only be coded if looking appears to be the ultimate goal of mothers’ utterance (e.g., instances where the mother tells the child “here” to get the child to change location are NOT attention directives; in such instances code as directive to do).

Some utterances may include the words such as look or see, but their primary function is NOT to call the child’s attention (e.g., “Let’s see if it will fit” would be coded as action directive if the mother is suggesting inserting a shape in a shape sorter, “She looks sad” would be provide information). Mothers may say utterances such as “Pay attention to me”. If the function of the utterance is for the child to look at the mother then code as directive to look. However these are different from instances where the mother might say “Pay attention to what you’re doing”, which would count as an action directive.

Directive to do (d)

Utterances with a main function of directing the child to engage in a specific action or instructing the child about how to do something. Action directives can involve the mother prompting the child to engage in a specific behavior (e.g., play with an object, retrieve an item). Examples include “Put it there”, “Flip it over”, “Turn the page”.

Action directives may specify information about the object or action or may contain generalized  statements (e.g., “That will fit if you press it”, “Markers go in the box”, “We pet the dog gently”), but the main function is to guide children’s actions and thus would not be categorized as provide information.  Action directives may also function to tell a child how to do something (e.g., “Walk slowly, “Play nicely”, “Be careful”, “Watch your head”). Note, the child does not need to comply with the action being prompted for an utterance to be coded as an action directive.

Any invitations to act in a specific—either together (“we” or “let’s”) or alone—count as action directives (e.g., “Wanna build bridges?”, “Let’s clean up”, “Now let’s open this one”, “Why don’t we drive the cars?”). However, general invitations “Vamos (go)” “Let’s go” “We can go” “Should we play with that one?” “Wanna do this next?” are more likely to be ‘m.’ And, if the mother uses the word “we” to describe or narrate her own action her own action alone (“We can push it” while she pushes a toy, or “We’re gonna pick it up” before she picks up a toy), do not count as action directive, code as provide information. We want to reserve directives for specific invitations for action based on words, context, or gesture rather than vague encouragement to act (which would be ‘m’). As long as there is a specific action (“open” “pet” “grab”) or specific target (“dolly” “ball” “this one”) then it can be coded as directive to do.

Instances where the mom says “here”, “here you go”, or other word(s) and the mom extends out an object for the child to grab likely fall under the directive to do code as the mother likely intends for the child to grab the object. The context on video is critical to decide whether the mom is just saying this to hand the object to the child, or is inviting action.

Additional Guidelines and Rules:

Syntactically, action directives may be framed as questions (e.g., “Can you feed the teddy?”, “Would you go over there?”; “Should we go read?”, “Should we find the basketball?”). Action directives framed as questions function to indirectly prompt specific behaviors in children. A helpful rule of thumb is if you remove the “can you”, “would you”, “could you”, or “should we” from the utterance, what is left over is a directive for the child to act in some way.

If the directive to do contains explicit information “Get the red ball” would still be a directive (and not provides information).

Directives to inform the child about a correct way to do something, such as saying “The block doesn’t go in there”, “Be gentle” would instead be coded as prohibit ‘p’. Generally, if the mom is inviting the child to do a new action, code as ‘d’, but if the mom is trying to get the child to stop and action or redirect them then ‘p’.

If the mother is explicitly instructing the child to point, show, or perform a specific gesture (e.g., “Point to the dog”, “Show me that ball”, “Clap for me”) would be considered directives to do. On the other hand, if the mom’s directive is vague and a verbal response or gesture or other action would be an acceptable response (e.g., “Which one’s the boy?”, “Where’s bunny?”) this is better coded as a directive to communicate, since the mother is instructing the child to communicate something but is agnostic about how the child should that.

Directive to communicate (c)

Utterances that function with the explicit goal of prompting the child to communicate or vocalize. These should be code very conservatively when the primary goal is clearly to elicit a response; mothers often say phrases that to an adult seen to be require a response but are simply “making conversation” to a baby. Communication can include speaking or gesturing. Many such utterances by the mother are formulated as questions (e.g., “What color is that?”, “Can you count?”, “What letter does ball start with?”). Other examples include the mother explicitly eliciting words from the child (“Say bye-bye”). Mothers offering a choice (e.g., mother holding out two toys, mother asking if child wants to play on floor or couch) for the child to respond by selecting the object or location would also count as directives to communicate (the action choice is the intended communicative action).

Mothers may also repeat a word the child says in the form of a question (e.g., child says “water” and mom responds “water?”), code as a directive to communicate. In these instances mothers are likely looking for clarification or elicit more communication from the child. However, filler words asked as questions (“Hmmm?”) in response to a child vocalization should be coded as filler or if she is just repeating what the child said in general would be ‘m.’

Note, the child does not need to provide a verbal or gestural response for an utterance to be coded as elicit verbal. If the child DOES respond this should not change the outcome of the coding.

Additional Guidelines and Rules:

Be mindful of questions. Often mothers will ask children questions but their intent is not really to get the child to communicate. Sometimes these are providing information “i” by narrating but with the surface level of a question (e.g., “Do you remember how we open this?”, “Who is coming home soon?”, “Did you hurt your toe?” “What did you get there?”) or are simply maintaining the flow of conversation “m” (e.g., “What should we do now?”, “Is that fun?”, “Is that so?” “What’s next?”)

If the mother is explicitly instructing the child to point, show, or perform a specific gesture (e.g., “Point to the dog”, “Show me that ball”, “Clap for me”) would be considered directives to do. On the other hand, if the mom’s directive is vague and a verbal response or gesture or other action would be an acceptable response (e.g., “Which one’s the boy?”, “Where’s bunny?”) this is better coded as a directive to communicate, since the mother is instructing the child to communicate something but is agnostic about how the child should do that.

Prohibit/correct (p)

Utterances that function to stop, curb, slow down, or correct the child’s actions (e.g., “Stop that”, “No”, “Don’t do that”, “Stop crying”, “Don’t pick that up”, “No hitting”, “Put it down”). Prohibitive utterances often include the words no or don’t (but always pay attention to the context). Other examples can include “Be quiet”, “Leave that on the ground”, “The square doesn’t fit there”, “Hold on”, “Wait”, where the goal is to curb or correct the child’s actions. Short words such as “Uhuh” or “Mnm mnm” count as prohibitions/corrections.

Additional Guidelines and Rules:

Sometimes mothers use prohibitions/corrections in indirect ways (e.g. “We don’t play like that”,

“You can’t fit under there”, “No thank you”, “That’s yucky”, “Mommy’s brush is not a toy”).  Such utterances should be coded as prohibitions (not as provide information), because their main function is to stop or prevent a behavior.

Prohibitions can be phrased as questions as another indirect way of stopping or correcting child action (e.g., “Can you stop hitting that?”, “Could you quit crying?”, “Would you not eat that?”). Whenever the context and function of a question is to stop the child from engaging in a behavior, the utterance should be coded as prohibition.

Utterances where mother corrects the child’s speech or gesture while using “no” (e.g., “No that’s not a triangle” in response to the child calling a circle a triangle, “No that isn’t dad”, “That’s not blue” if the child points to green after the mother asks “Where is the blue one?”) are coded as provide information ‘i’ utterances, and do not count as a prohibition.

Provide information (i)

Utterances that function to provide information about objects and activities or contain explicit referential information. These can include labeling objects (“That’s your bottle”, “The blocks fell”), narrating actions by the child or by the mother (“You’re eating”, “I’m cooking”), or commenting on states or emotions (“He’s sad”, “I’m tired”, “You’re cranky” , “You hurt your foot”).  Utterances that include comparisons (e.g., “Looks like a square”), reference a past experience related to the object or event (“It looks like the one from grandma’s house”) or describe objects or events (“The little one”), should be coded as provide information. Sometimes mothers will provide information as questions (“Is that your baba?”). Usually these rhetorical questions are about objects or events the mother is naming to provide information to the child.

A general rule of thumb for deciding between a code of ‘i’ or maintenance/engagement ‘m’: if an utterance includes a noun, adjective, verb, or location (and does not fall under a directive or prohibit code), it likely will fall under the provide information code. Examples include “You want a bigger train?”, “How about this one here?”)

Additional Guidelines and Rules:

Often mothers narrate or describe their own ongoing or future actions when speaking to children (e.g., “I’m going to get your bottle”, “Can I wipe your nose?”). These types of utterances should be coded as provide information/referential, as the mother is trying to let the child know what is going on or what will happen soon.

Sometimes mothers will discuss events that have just happened (i.e., immediate past activities), or actions the child is already or just finished doing. For example, child walks across the room with a cup of water, and the mother says “Get the water” describing what the child is already doing. These types of utterances should be coded as ‘i’ or ‘m’ depending on context and the other rules for coding.

If the directive to do contains explicit information “Get the red ball” would still be a directive (and not provides information).

Mothers may also discuss their own knowledge or mental state as part of their utterances (“I know where it is”). These types of utterances should be coded as provide information.

When a mother recasts or repeats a child’s speech but adds additional information (Child says “pumpkin”, mother says “Yeah, the pumpkin it’s under the bed”) count as ‘i’. If the mother just repeats the utterance without adding new information (Child says “blue ball”, mother says “Mmhm it’s blue”) count instead as maintenance/engagement ‘m’.

Utterances that contain the word “no” but are meant to offer correct information (e.g., “No that’s not a triangle”, “No that isn’t dad”, “he’s not blue”) count as provide information ‘i’ rather than prohibition.

Utterances where the mother is counting “One, two, three…” (e.g., during hide and seek, while counting blocks) should be coded as “i”. Utterances where the mother is saying letters of the alphabet (“a@ b@ c@”) but NOT singing them fall under provide information.

Maintenance and engagement (m)

An utterance that functions to continue the flow of conversation or as a nonspecific response to a child’s vocalization or action. Often maintenance and engagement utterances serve to further comment on the ongoing events after another type of utterance (after providing information or directive to communicate). For example, mother says “You’re gently moving it” (coded as ‘i’), then she says “I noticed” (would be coded as ‘m’). Maintenance and engagement utterances also include instances when the mother repeats what the child said without adding more information (e.g., repeating the child’s utterance; child says “hug” mother repeats and says “hug”) EXCEPT in situations where the mother’s repetition of the word is intended for the child to repeat the word as well (code as ‘c’).

Additional Guidelines and Rules:

Sometimes maintenance utterances are framed as questions such as “What should we do next?”, “Where are you going?”, or “What are you doing?”. Discern whether the mother's statement appeared to direct the child’s behavior or communication in these instances, if her statement did not function to direct action or elicit communication, it should be coded as maintain engagement.

Sometimes mothers will discuss events that have already happened (e.g., past tense activities). These types of utterances should be coded as ‘i’ or ‘m’ depending on context and the other rules for these codes.

Sound effects alone (e.g., “choo choo”, “mwah”, “woof woof”, “boo”), without any additional communicative information should be coded as maintenance and engagement. This includes sound effects made in the context of pretend play (e.g., mom says “mmm” as if to imitate someone enjoying eating). If an utterance with a sound effect has additional information (e.g., “The train goes choo choo”) then code as provide information.

Instances where the mother says the child’s name (or a pet name such as “sweetie, honey, sweetheart, etc.”) and nothing else, and the utterance does not fall under a directive or prohibition, code as maintenance.

Reading (r)

An utterance in which mother reads from a book or other source, thus the sequence of words is not self-generated/created. If based off of mothers tone/intonation and content you can tell the mother is not reading verbaitum, do not code as reading. If the mother uses some of the text verbatim but adds additional words, code as provide information (“Look the fish is saying “Bloop bloop”).

If you are unsure if the mother is reading, and the pages of the book are visible on the video, try to see if you can identify the text on the book and if it matches what the mother is saying.

Singing (s)

An utterance in which the mother is singing from memory or along to a song. If the intonation of the voice is singing for any utterance, and the utterance does not fall under any prior codes (e.g., directives, prohibitions, etc.), code as singing. If the mother uses some of the words from the song verbatim but adds additional words, code as provide information (“GIVE EXAMPLE”)

Singing the alphabet counts towards the singing code, but if mother is saying letters without singing, count as provide information.

Filler or affirmation (f)

An utterance in which mother acknowledges the child’s behavior, uses words as conversational fillers, or provides a short affirmation. For instance, when the mother says “There you go” when the child successfully completes a puzzle, or when she says “Yeah”, or “Uh huh”. A list of common conversation fillers is provided on page 13.

Incomplete thoughts by the mother that are never finished, and cannot be coded due to lack of further detail can be coded as filler/affirmation.

Filler and affirmation words or phrases are usually said alone with no other words. Note that words that otherwise could be coded as fillers and affirmations can be part of longer utterances (e.g., “Oh thats your dolly”, “Yeah the duck is yellow”, “Good job petting gently”). Just because an utterance includes a filler or affirmation word/phrase it does not automatically mean the utterance should be coded as a filler/affirmation.

Any utterance that contains an affirmation plus the child’s name or a pet name (“sweetheart, sweetie, honey, love”) would also just count as a filler. However, that filler must not contain any other information or a directive (in those cases code as ‘i’ or a directive, respectively).


Instances where the mother repeats a filler/affirmation that the child said should be coded as maintenance NOT as filler.

Unintelligible (x)

An utterance was not intelligible to the communication coder.

Transcription content in the momutterancetype column will use “xxx” for words or full utterances where the transcriber could not decipher the content of the utterance (e.g., “Why don’t you xxx?”). Double check these instances when coding in the momutterancetype column. Even if the original transcription indicates that a word or full utterance is unintelligible (“xxx”), sometimes coder can detect if the utterance was an action directive, prohibition, etc. based on intonation, other words, or other aspects of the utterance and video context.

The unintelligible code is NOT used as an “I’m not sure” code. If a coder is unsure of a code, they must use their best judgement and process of elimination to narrow down the code.

Not directed to child (z)

This code is used when the mother is speaking to a voice assistant (e.g., Alexa, Google Home, etc), on the phone, or to a pet. These would count as words that would be overheard by the child, but are not intended as speech directed to the child.

If the mother is narrating her actions or talking about ongoing things in a performative way with the child this does not count as ‘z’. Usually this is the mom talking to the child by talking to herself about what she is doing, or maybe talking for the camera and so codes will usually follow the rules for other codes ( ‘i’ or ‘m’).

HOWEVER, situations where mom is talking to herself because of something that happened (e.g., mom dropped something and swears, stubs her toe, etc.) that isn't child directed speech/there is a change in tone, can be code as ‘z’.

How to Code

Set the JUMP-BACK-BY key for 2 s.

Press control and t to space out the cells on the Datavyu spreadsheet temporally. This will align the momspeech cells with their corresponding momutterancetype cells and will make coding easier.

Hit “FIND” on the controller to go to the onset of each utterance, which was populated in the transcribe column.

JUMP-BACK-BY 2s so the utterance can be viewed in context.

Play in real time to code each utterance, which is coded in mutually exclusive categories. Tab between each argument/prompt until you reach the appropriate code. Use the up and down arrows to navigate between cells.

Run the “add_periods_momutterancetype.rb” periodically to add periods to empty arguments in cells the coder has already coded.

You can use the content in the momspeech  column to help guide you as you code in the momutterancetype column. However, do not rely on the momspeech column alone. Listen to the audio and watch the video when you move into each cell to code.

List of Filler and Affirmation Phrases and Words

Filler words and affirmations are coded as ‘f’ for the momutterancetype communication pass. These are words that provide limited information beyond simple agreement or are used commonly to keep the flow of conversation going. When used as a filler or affirmation they are usually said alone with no other words. Note that sometimes these words or phrases are part of longer utterances that should be coded as another code. (“Oh thats your dolly”, “What color is the duck?”, “Play nice”. Just because an utterance includes one of these words it does not automatically mean the utterance should be coded as a filler/affirmation.






Bless you

Go Ahead

Good job / good work

Got it

Here we go

Hello/ Hello (name)




I agree

I know

I’m sorry


Mmm (EXCEPT when “mmm” is said as part of pretend play/saying something tastes good)

Nice/ nicely done/ nice job


Oh gosh

Oh jeez

Oh my/ Oh my goodness

Oh no

Oh you

Oh my god

Okay/ it’s okay

Thank you

That’s good

There you go

Uhoh (EXCEPT when tone indicates prohibition)

Way to go









You’re fine/ everything is fine

You’re welcome