Common protocol

, by Sylvain Navarro

The common PAC protocol provides access to various speech styles, on a continuum from spontaneous/informal to monitored/formal for each speaker, by recording the following tasks:
 reading of two wordlists
 reading of a list of sentences
 reading of a text
 formal (semi-guided) interview
 informal conversation


The two wordlists in the PAC protocol include 192 items altogether and focus on segmental phenomena. The first wordlist tests the vowel system by notably presenting potential minimal pairs in a randomized order. The second wordlist does the same for the consonant system. Both lists allow for the study of rhoticity, vowel length, and the realization of /t/ (tapping, glottaling), among other phenomena. For more information on the relevance of the wordlists with regards to the programme’s ambitions, see Brulard et al. (2015) and Carr et al. (2004).

Researchers in the different thematic groups are likely to add extra reading tasks to focus on more regionally specific phenomena. For further information, check the thematic research pages.


The list of sentences includes 34 items reflecting a variety of syntactic structures. Within a given survey point, the order of the sentences should be randomized for each informant, in order to avoid repetitive intonation contours which sometimes occur over the first few items (see Bongiorno et al. to appear).


The text is entitled "A Christmas interview". It is a two-page-long passage originally adapted from a newspaper article but substantially modified to hide its source and include a number of phonological and phonetic phenomena worth investigating, and notably post-lexical processes such as r-sandhi and assimilations.

Before the recording, informants may take a few minutes to read the text to themselves. This gives them a chance to run through the text and know what it is about, and thus be more at ease and perform better for the recording. This is important in order to guarantee the necessary fluidity for the study of connected speech processes.

Formal conversation

For both the formal and the informal conversations, we recommend that the first few minutes of recording be avoided for subsequent analysis as the informants often need a few minutes to be completely at ease with the task.

The formal (semi-guided) interview involves the fieldworker and the informant. It is based on the information sheet which establishes the sociolinguistic profile of each informant, and on the PAC-LVTI questionnaire which gathers information about the speaker’s language, identity, work, and relationship to the area they live in.

Informal conversation

The informal conversation is recorded with two or three informants in the absence of the fieldworker. There are no topics or directions imposed on the conversation as its main goal is to provide access to the most spontaneous and casual speech style possible.

All in all, about 30 minutes of spontaneous speech should be recorded for each informant (at least 15 minutes of formal interview and 15 minutes of informal conversation) – a sufficient basis for the subsequent annotation and analysis of each speech style for each speaker, as required by the programme standards.

Information sheet

In order to build a comprehensive comparable database of speaker profiles, the PAC methodology requires for the fieldworker to enquire about the following:
 place of birth
 place of residence
 family and ancestry
 leisure activities
among other personal information

LVTI sociolinguistic questionnaire

The PAC-LVTI sociolinguistic questionnaire includes questions about language, urban/post-urban environments, work, and identity which, along with the Information sheet, are used as a thematic basis for the formal/semi-guided interview.


Below are links to some of the tools we use within the PAC programme:

 Praat (Paul Boersma & David Weenink (2023): Praat: doing phonetics by computer)

 Phonometrica (Eychenne, Julien & Léa Courdès-Murphy (2019). Phonometrica: an open platform for the analysis of speech corpora. Proceedings of the Seoul International Conference on Speech Sciences 2019, Seoul National University, pp. 107-108.)

 SPPAS (Brigitte Bigi (2015). SPPAS - Multi-lingual Approaches to the Automatic Annotation of Speech. In "the Phonetician" - International Society of Phonetic Sciences, ISSN 0741-6164, Number 111-112 / 2015-I-II, pages 54-69.)

If you are interested in using the copyrighted PAC protocol for your fieldwork, feel free to contact us to enquire about PAC membership.