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o (open) has a sound between the o of not and the u of nut. Mode, fashion; mol, soft.

o (close) has the sound of o in note. As mot, word ; côté, side.

o is silent in faon, Laon, paon, taon.

u has no equivalent in English; it can be formed by trying to pronounce French i with the lips in the position for whistling Lune, moon ; murmure, murmur. It is usually silent after q and also when standing between g and e or i. As quatre, four; guerre, war; guide, guide.

y following a consonant, or standing alone, has the sound of French i. As type, type ; y, there.

y standing between two vowels performs the office of iy, the i uniting with the preceding vowel. As rayon (ray) = rai-yon; appuyer (to support) = appui-yer. (See below, Compound Vowels.) Pays, paysan, paysage = pai-is, etc.

Nasal Vowels.

m and n, when final or before a consonant, lose their value as consonants and form with the preceding vowel a nasal sound which is a true vowel. These sounds have no exact equivalents in English; and in pronouncing them, care must be taken that no consonant m. n, or ng be heard.

They are divided into four groups.



=nasal a = French long a pronounced through

the nose.



As dans, in ; lampe, lamp; enfant, child ; empire, empire.

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so-called nasal i = English a in man pronounced through the nose.


ein As vin, wine ; important, important; pain, bread; faim, hunger ; sein, breast. on ) = nasal o=French open o pronounced through

the nose. As ponton, pontoon ; nom, name.




= nasal eu = French eu (see p. 6) pronounced

through the nose.


As brun, brown ; parfum, perfume ; à jeun, fasting.

In words ending in -ien and in the verbs tenir, venir, and their compounds, en after i has the sound of nasal i As bien, well ; viens, come. En is silent in the third person plural of verbs. As ils aiment, they love. Otherwise en nearly always has the sound of nasal a, as given in the first group.

Vowels are not nasalized before double n or double m, nor before n or m followed by a vowel or h mute. As âme, soul ; une, one ; pomme, apple ; inhumain, inhuman.

But the nasal sound is heard in ennui and its derivatives, and in all words beginning with emm.

Compound Vowels and Diphthongs. A compound vowel is the union of two or more vowels, with the sound of a single vowel.

A diphthong is the union of two vowels, both of which are heard in pronunciation.


ai at the end of verbs, in gai, quai, and in je sais, tu sais, il sait, has the sound of é; otherwise it has the sound of e. As j'ai, I have ; mais, but ; vrai, true.

In faisant, doing, and its derivatives, it has the sound of u in but.

au, eau have the sound of o in note. As autre, other ; beau, handsome. In Paul, mauvais (bad), and before r, an au has the sound of open o. ei has the sound of è.

As reine, queen. eu, oeu have no equivalent in English. The sound is somewhat like that of i in sir, and is longer in some words than in others. As feu, fire ; fleur, flower ; ceuf, egg.

In all parts of the verb avoir, to have, eu has the sound of u. ou has the sound of oo in moon. As jour, day. oi has nearly the sound of wa in wash. As moi, me.

In all other diphthongs the first vowel is pronounced quickly and the voice dwells on the second. heaven ; Dieu, God ; bruit, noise ; oui, yes ; juin, June.

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As ciel,

Consonants. Final consonants are generally silent except c, f, 1, r. Otherwise they usually have the same sound as in English. c before

e, i, y, or with the cedilla (s) has the sound of s. As ceci, this ; leçon, lesson ; reçu, received. Otherwise it has the sound of k. As car, for; col, neck; avec, with.

c final is silent after n (as blanc, white; franc, frank), and in accroc, broc, clerc, cric, échecs, escroc, estomac, lacs, raccroc, tabac. It has the sound of hard g in second and its derivatives.

ch has the sound of ch in chagrin. As chat, cat ; chercher, to seek.

ch before a consonant, and usually in words derived from the Greek, has the sound of k. As yacht (iak); orchestre, orchestra ; choeur, choir. It is silent in almanach.

in gag:

à final is sounded in proper names (as David) and in sud, south.

f final is silent in clef (key), cerf (stag), chef-d'oeuvre; and also in the plurals beufs (oxen), eufs (eggs), nerfs (nerves), though heard in the singulars beuf, euf, nerf. In neuf, nine, f is silent before a consonant, and has the sound of v before a vowel or h mute.

g before e, i, and y has the sound of s in pleasure ; before a, o, and u, the sound of g

As gingembre, ginger ; gage, pledge. gn sounds like gn in mignonette. As agneau, lamb.

h is not heard in pronunciation. It is called mute when the final vowel of the preceding word is elided before it; and aspirate when no elision takes place. As l'homme, the man ; le héros, the hero.

Whether the h is mute or aspirate can be learned only by observation and practice. The following are among the most usual words in which the h is aspirate. La hache, the axe; la haie, the hedge; la haine, hate; une halle, a market-place ; les hardes, the clothes ; les haricots, the beans ; le hasard, the chance ; la hâte, huste ; le haut, the summit; le héros, the hero (but l'héroïne, l'héroïsme); la honte, the shame ; le Hâvre, Havre ; la Hollande, Holland ; le huit, the eight (but mute in dix-huit and vingt-huit). j has the sound of s in pleasure. As jour, day; joli,

. pretty.

ill, not initial, and il, when final, form the so-called liquid l, with nearly the sound of y in your. As péril, peril, fille, daughter.

Any vowel standing before the liquid 1 does not form a diphthong with the i, but retains its own sound; ue and oe have then the sound of eu. As paille, straw ; soleil, sun ; feuille, leaf; orgueil, pride ; oil, eye.

There is no liquid sound in il, exil, vil, fil, mil, mille, civil, profil, nil, Achille, Lille, tranquille, pupille, ville, village, distiller, vaciller, osciller, etc.

1 is silent in baril, chenil, coutil, fils, fusil, gentil, gril, outil, persil, pouls, soûl, sourcil.

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m and n, if the preceding vowel is not nasal, have the same sound as in English. mis silent in damner and its compounds and in automne.

p is silent in baptême, compte, corps, dompter, exempt, temps, sculpter, sept, and their compounds. ph has the sound of f.

qu has the sound of k. As qui, who; qualité, quality.

In aquarelle, équateur, équation, loquace, quadrupède, quartz, and a few other words qu has the same sound as in English. In cinq followed by a consonant q is silent.

ris articulated much more distinctly than in English. As rue, street; rivière, river.

r final is sounded when preceded by a, i, o, u (as car, for; finir, to finish ; dur, hard), in monosyllables ending in -er (as fer, iron), and in amer, bitter ; cuiller, spoon ; enfer, hell ; fier, proud ; hier, yesterday ; hiver, winter.

In other words final er is sounded like é. As parler, to speak; dernier, last.

Both r's are distinctly sounded in the future and conditional tenses of acquérir, courir, and mourir, to distinguish them from other forms with a single r. As nous courons, we run; nous courrons, we shall run. It is always silent in monsieur.

s between two vowels has the sound of s in please. As voisin, neighbor ; base, base.

Except in parasol, désuétude, and in compound words, where s retains the hissing sound of its simple form. As préséance, precedence , vraisemblable, likely.

Otherwise it has the sound of sin sister. As sensation, sensation ; prisme, prism; héroïsme, heroism.

Except in transaction, transalpin, transiger, transit, transitif, transition, and balsamine, in which it has the sound of z.

s final is silent, except in aloés, as, atlas, blocus, cens, chorus, dervis, en-sus, fils, florés, gratis, iris, jadis, laps, lis (though silent in fleur-de-lis), maïs, mars, meurs, ours, rébus, Rheims, rhinoceros, sinus, sens (usually), tous (when used without a noun), vis, and in Greek and Latin names.


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