Genie (Susan Wiley) is the pseudonym of a feral child whose linguistic development was considered extremely important in the study of the critical period for language acquisition as she had virtually no exposure to language prior to rescue. Her speech is described on Wikipedia:

Genie's voice was still extremely high-pitched and soft, which linguists believed accounted for some of her abnormal expressive language, and the scientists worked very hard to improve it. Her voice gradually became moderately lower and louder, although it remained unusually high and soft, and she began to better articulate words. Despite this she consistently deleted or substituted sounds, making her extremely difficult to understand.

A transcription of her describing the abuse she experienced at the hands of her father:

Father hit arm. Big wood. Genie cry ... Not spit. Father. Hit face—spit. Father hit big stick. Father is angry. Father hit Genie big stick. Father take piece wood hit. Cry. Father make me cry. Father is dead.

I've seen a few videos of her and read various transcriptions, but saw no audio recordings. Do any audio recordings exist of her actually speaking, or are there only third-hand accounts?

  • 1
    Susan Curtiss would know linguistics.ucla.edu/people/curtiss
    – Alex B.
    Commented May 25, 2021 at 1:54
  • @AlexB. I sent her an email shortly after you posted that comment and have yet to receive a reply.
    – forest
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 2:12
  • I have no idea why you didn’t get a reply from her. If you really need such materials, the best course of action would be to study them at the UCLA Library (Special Collection), and not all of them are freely available due to privacy and confidentiality regulations. Genie could still be alive.
    – Alex B.
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 21:40

1 Answer 1


Most of the material is not in the public domain or online, and access must be requested from the UCLA Library (click "Request Items" in the top right-hand corner):


There is an extensive inventory of the available material, which itself makes interesting reading. I hope that the UCLA Library is converting this material to electronic formats, for the benefit of future researchers.

EDIT: If you don't already know about it, the PBS documentary "Genie (Secret of the Wild Child)" has a few brief video recordings of Genie speaking:


  • Interesting. It seems like it would be very difficult for me to get access to. That's a shame, since this really does seem like a treasure trove of information on such a unique subject. It would be far better if they just released it all online (minus any records that have no research value or are protected under law).
    – forest
    Commented Mar 11, 2022 at 22:17

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