Presentation

, par Guillaume Wauquier

The PAC programme (Phonologie de l’Anglais Contemporain : usages, variétés et structure - The Phonology of Contemporary English : usage, varieties and structure) is an interdisciplinary linguistic research programme coordinated by Sophie Herment (Aix-Marseille Université), Sylvain Navarro (Université de Paris), Anne Przewozny-Desriaux (Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès) and Cécile Viollain (Université Paris Nanterre).

The main aims of the programme can be summarized as follows :
- to give a better picture of spoken English in its unity and diversity (geographical, social and stylistic) on the basis of native and learner corpora ;
- to test existing theoretical models in phonology, phonetics and sociolinguistics from a synchronic and diachronic point of view, making room for the systematic study of variation ;
- to favour communication between specialists in speech, phonological and sociolinguistic theory ;
- and to provide corpus-based data and analyses which will help improve the teaching of English as a foreign language.

Since 2004, what started as Jacques Durand’s idea for a local team project in Toulouse has developed into a research programme with a national and international scientific community, regular international conferences and summer workshops, senior and junior researchers as well as PhD students.

It has done so by setting collaborative goals for the creation of a large database on contemporary oral English, including native corpora from a wide variety of linguistic areas in the English-speaking world, such as :
- the United Kingdom – Lancashire, Ayrshire, Birmingham, Manchester...
- the Republic of Ireland – Donegal, Dublin...
- Canada – Ontario, Quebec...
- Australia – New South Wales, Victoria...
- New Zealand – Christchurch, Dunedin, Wellington...
- India – New Delhi...
- the USA – California, Boston, Michigan, Connecticut...
as well as learner corpora from France, China, Italy and Spain.

The protocol used is shared by all researchers in every survey location and was inspired by the classical methodology of William Labov. It revolves around 2 reading tasks and 2 conversational tasks. Each research group can then add extra tasks to that common protocol.

Although significant corpora of oral English already exist, many of them have been conceived along exclusively sociolinguistic rather than explicitly phonological lines. In other cases, hardly any information is available on speakers beyond gender and geographical origin. Furthermore, few corpora are based upon a single methodology allowing for a fully comparative analysis of the data.

The approach chosen by the PAC programme is modelled on the French PFC programme (Phonologie du Français Contemporain – http://www.projet-pfc.net), founded by Jacques Durand (Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès), Bernard Laks (Université Paris Nanterre) and Chantal Lyche (University of Oslo). This parent programme has demonstrated how a corpus which was originally conceived for phonology can lend itself to many other types of linguistic exploitation : the lexicon, morphosyntax, prosody, pragmatics, dialectology, sociolinguistics and interaction.

PAC programme