Over the last years, Praat evolved to a standard tool for phonetic analysis. An increasing number of users with various backgrounds have mastered the basic level of praatology: operating the Praat GUI (graphical user interface). If you are one of these users you are able to accomplish more or less complex phonetic analyses by clicking buttons, selecting menu items, and typing parameters into forms. Given the complexity of the Praat GUI this is no small achievement and is sufficient for data exploration and the occasional mini study.

But as soon as the amount of data increases and analysis steps have to be repeated over and over, operating the Praat GUI becomes tedious and prone to error. If you notice these symptoms you should consider to endeavor the master level of praatology: operating Praat by script. With Praat scripts you can

  • automate repetitive tasks
  • add your individual functions to Praat
  • determine complex analysis setups
  • construct sophisticated production and perception experiments
  • and much more

Praat scripting is a very powerful tool thanks to the Praat scripting language. The Praat scripting language is a programming language, a simple one but a programming language nonetheless. Therefore, running Praat by scripts is tantamount to computer programming. In my experience, this presents a significant barrier for many Praat users, because Praat users with backgrounds such as philology, socio-linguistics, speech and language therapy etc. usually do not have any programming experience.

With this audience in mind, attempts to pave the way and provide a basic entrance to the world of Praat scripting. Each session of the tutorial is dedicated to a concept or feature of the Praat scripting language. Most sessions are divided into reading assignments followed by a hands-on workshop, where you'll implement what you have learned.* The last session presents and explains a 'real-life' script that implemets most features and concepts discussed in this tutorial.

At the end of this tutorial you'll be able to develop your own Praat scripts and—more important—you'll be able to make sense of the relevant Praat help documents to extend your scripting skills.

*Almost all reading assign­ments are complete and usable but some workshops are still missing. I'll try to add them soon and you can help me with your feedback!

Next: Introduction & Prerequisites