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er, ez, ai are generally pronounced like é:
parler (parlé), to speak.
chanter (chanté), to sing.
vous parlez (parlé'), you speak.
j'ai, I have.
è, ais, ai, ei, ê are pronounced like ea in measure :
ô, au, eau are pronounced like o in no; o like o in not:
u is pronounced by contracting the mouth; it has no corresponding sound in English, and must be learned from the teacher:
y is generally pronounced like two French i's; always so between two vowels:
croyant, croi-iant, believing.
There are four nasal sounds peculiar to the French language, and represented by m, n, preceded by one or two vowels.
an, in, on, un.
Are all pronounced much like an (broad) in want:
ien is pronounced like yan in Yankee; as, chien, dog.
These are all pronounced without sounding n, like
feindre, to feign.
Pronounce somewhat like on of the word wrong, a
little more broad and nasal:
Pronounce much like
montons, let us go up.
songeons, let us think. un of the word young: quelqu'un, somebody. à jeun, fasting.
If the m or n of the above combinations is doubled, or occurs between two vowels, there is no nasal sound; as, année, inattendu, etc.
The following are for practice on the nasal sounds:
combien, how much.
compenser, to compensate.
un jambon, a ham.
un enfant, a child.
un an, a year.
un bon chien, a good dog.
un grand banc, a large bench.
1 or 11, preceded by i in the middle or at the end of a word, has the liquid sound found in the English word brilliant. Ai, preceding 1 or 11, has the sound of a in mat.
When two vowels are pronounced by a single impulse of the voice, as, oi, oin, ien, ia, ié, iè, io, ieu, uá, ué, iu, ian, ion, they are called diphthongs.
roi, king; noir, black; soin, care; coin, corner; bien, good; rien, nothing; diacre, deacon; amitié, friendship; lumière, light; médiocre, middling; milieu, middle; suave, sweet; suivre, to follow; viande, meat; nation, nation; passion, passion.
If two vowels be pronounced separately, the latter takes the trema:
A final consonant is generally silent: plomb, lead; aplomb, perpendicular; port, harbor; fort, strong; fusil, gun; goût, taste.
B is pronounced as in English: bas, stocking; bâton, stick.
C before e and i is pronounced like s: ceci, this; citron, lemon. C before a, o, u, and before the consonants s, 1, n, r, t, sounds like k, except when the cedilla is added; ç sounds like s.
C final sounds like k: sec, dry; sac, bag. It is silent in some words: porc, pork; tabac, tobacco; blanc, white; franc, free; tronc, trunk.
Ch is pronounced like sh in English.
D has the same sound as in English: David. D final sounds like t when followed immediately by a word commencing with a vowel or h mute, in the union (la liaison) of the two words: un grand homme, pronounce un grantomme; vendelle, pronounce ventelle, etc.
F is pronounced as in English, fièvre, fever. F final is generally sounded: soif, thirst; chef, chief; œuf, egg; bœuf, or; but in clef, chef-d'œuvre, œufs, bœufs, f is silent. (For neuf, see p. 52.)
G before e and i is soft, and is sounded like j: génie, genius; agir, to act. G before a, o, u, and consonants is hard: garçon, boy; gorge, throat; aigu, sharp, grand, great; gloire, glory, etc. gn is sounded somewhat like n in senior; ignorance; seigneur, lord; saigner, to bleed; etc. For the liaison, g has the sound of k on a vowel or mute h: sang humain is pronounced sankhumain, etc.
His mute in most French words; as, l'homme, man; l'honneur, honor; l'héroïne, the heroine, etc. H is aspirated in the following words:
There is no elision before the aspirated h: la haie, not l'haie, etc. There is no liaison before the aspirated h: les héros pronounce lè héros, not lèzhéros, etc.
J is pronounced like s in measure: jamais, never; jour, day, etc. K is pronounced as in English: kilogramme, kilogram.
L is sounded at the end of some words; as, fil, thread; Brésil, Brazil; Nil, Nile; mil, mille, thousand; profil; ville, town, etc. See p. 13 for the liquid 1, 11. L is silent in baril, barrel; coutil, ticking; fils, son; fusil, gun; outil, tool; persil, parsley, pouls, pulse, etc.
M as in English. It is silent in automne, and in the nasal sounds: temps, rompre, etc.
N as in English. It is silent in nasal sounds: enfant.