French For Football/Notes/Pronunciation

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An English speaker should not find French pronunciation too difficult, but it is easy to start mispronouncing French words which have a similar spelling to English words. There are also many different letter combinations which can produce a particular sound and also many silent letters, so it is often difficult to tell how a word should be spelled just from the sound of it. To assist the student, this book makes extensive use of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) which is used in many dictionaries to show the correct pronunciation. By convention, pronunciation is shown bracketed by “/” characters.

Consonants[edit]

These are generally like English, but with the following modifications.

Dental Consonants[edit]

The letters d, l, n, s, t and z are pronounced with the tip of the tongue against the lower teeth and the middle of the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In English, one would pronounce these letters with the tip of the tongue at the roof of one's mouth. (It is very difficult to pronounce a word like 'voudrais' properly with the d formed in the English manner.)

b & p[edit]

Unlike English, when you pronounce the letters 'b' and 'p' in French, little to no air should come out of your mouth. If you're an English speaker, say the word 'pit' and then the word 'spit' out loud. Did you notice the extra puff of air in the first word that doesn't come with the second? The 'p' in 'pit' is aspirated [pʰ]; the 'p' in 'spit' is not (like the 'p' in any position in French).

/ʀ/[edit]

The French “r” sound is produced at the back of the throat, as when gargling. (This is the “official” pronunciation, but there is a lot of regional variation with some dialects being more like English.)

/ʃ/[edit]

The French “sh” sound is pronounced as in English but is spelled with “ch”. e.g.

château /ʃato/ castle
gauche /ɡoʃ/ left
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/ʒ/[edit]

This is the “zh” sound like in English “leisure” which can be spelled with “g” or “j” in different words. e.g.

rouge /ʀuʒ/ red
cage /kaʒ/ goal
claquage /klakaʒ/ hamstring injury
jaune /ʒon/ yellow
juge /ʒyʒ/ judge (linesman)
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/s/[edit]

This is the “s” sound is produced by the letters “s” and “c” as in English, and can also be produced by the letter “ç” and sometimes by “x”. e.g.

surface /syʀfas/ (penalty) area
blessure /blesyʀ/ injury
brassard /bʀasaʀ/ armband
déçu /desy/ disappointed
six /sis/ six
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/ks/[edit]

This is the sound normally produced by the letter “x”. e.g.

laxiste /laksist/ lax
mixte /mikst/ combined
extrémité /ɛkstʀemite/ end
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/z/[edit]

This is like the English “z” sound, and is produced by the letters “s” and “z”. e.g.

ciseau /sizo/ scissor (kick)
dispositif /dispozitif/ plan, operation
physique /fizik/ build
osé /oze/ daring
zone /zon/ (relegation) zone
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/j/[edit]

This is the sound at the front of the English word “yellow” which in French can be produced by the letters “i”, “y”, “l” and “ll”. e.g.

pied /pje/ foot
tibia /tibja/ shin
yeux /jø/ eyes
travail /tʀavaj/ work
maillot /majo/ shirt
cafouillage /kafujaʒ/ scramble
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/ɲ/[edit]

This is the sound normally produced by the letters “gn” which sounds like the “ny” in the English word “canyon”.

ligne /liɲ/ line
poignet /pwaɲɛ/ wrist
signer /siɲe/ to sign
gagner /ɡaɲe/ to win
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
Silent Consonants[edit]

In French, certain consonants are silent when they are the final letter of a word. The letters p (as in 'coup'), s (as in 'dos'), t (as in 'court'), d (as in 'grand), and x (as in 'locaux'), are generally not pronounced at the end of a word. They are pronounced if there is a letter e added at the end ('coupe', 'dose', 'courte', 'grande', etc.) There are exceptions, e.g. many words taken from English.

The letter “h” is always silent, but where it appears on the front of a word it can affect the pronunciation of any silent consonants on the end of the preceding word. (see Liaison)

Vowel Sounds[edit]

/a/[edit]

The following words only have the vowel sound /a/ as in English “hat”.

attaque /atak/ attack
balle /bal/ ball (or bullet!)
barrage /baʀaʒ/ barrier
barre /baʀ/ (cross-) bar
frappe /fʀap/ strike
marquage /maʀkaʒ/ marking
match /matʃ/ match
parade /paʀad/ parry (save)
stade /stad/ stadium
tacle /takl/ tackle
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/ɑ/[edit]

The following words have the vowel sound /ɑ/ like the “a” in English “car”.

base /bɑz/ base, foundation
bras /bʀɑ/ arm
cadre /kɑdʀ/ framework, goal
grâce /ɡʀɑs/ thanks
pas /pɑ/ step
passe /pɑs/ pass
phase /fɑz/ phase
tâche /tɑʃ/ task
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/ɑ̃/[edit]
camp /kɑ̃/ side
champ /ʃɑ̃/ field
rangs /ʀɑ̃/ ranks
jambe /ʒɑ̃b/ leg
centre /sɑ̃tʀ/ centre
changement /ʃɑ̃ʒmɑ̃/ substitution
rentrant /ʀɑ̃tʀɑ̃/ inswinging
tendance /tɑ̃dɑ̃s/ trend
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/e/[edit]
clé /kle/ key
nez /ne/ nose
fêter /fete/ to celebrate
freiné /fʀene/ slowed down, curbed
blessé /blese/ injured
pressé /pʀese/ anxious
prêté /pʀete/ on loan
serré /seʀe/ tight, close
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/ɛ/[edit]

This is like the "e" in English "bed" and "bet".

aile /ɛl/ wing
cercle /sɛʀkl/ circle
faiblesse /fɛblɛs/ weakness
geste /ʒɛst/ gesture, move
règles /ʀɛɡl/ rules
rêve /ʀɛv/ dream
terre /tɛʀ/ earth
tête /tɛt/ head, header
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/ɛ̃/[edit]
main /mɛ̃/ hand
plein /plɛ̃/ full
loin /lwɛ̃/ far
point /pwɛ̃/ point
pointe /pwɛ̃t/ spearhead
feinte /fɛ̃t/ dummy
gradins /ɡʀadɛ̃/ terraces
terrain /teʀɛ̃/ ground, pitch
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/ø/[edit]
bleu /blø/ blue
deux /dø/ two
jeu /ʒø/ play
lieu /ljø/ place
enjeu /ɑ̃ʒø/ stake
chanceux /ʃɑ̃sø/ lucky
entrejeu /ɑ̃tʀ-ʒø/ midfield
hors-jeu /'ɔʀʒø/ offside
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/œ/[edit]
heure /œʀ/ hour
neuf /nœf/ nine
épreuve /epʀœv/ event
largeur /laʀʒœʀ/ width
longueur /lɔ̃ɡœʀ/ length
finisseur /finisœʀ/ finisher
vainqueur /vɛ̃kœʀ/ victor
bonheur /bɔnœʀ/ happiness
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/ə/[edit]

This is like the "a" in English "about".

de /də/ of, from
dedans /dədɑ̃/ inside
dessus /d(ə)sy/ above
devant /d(ə)vɑ̃/ in front
genou /ʒ(ə)nu/ knee
pelouse /p(ə)luz/ field, lawn
recrue /ʀəkʀy/ recruit
vedette /vədɛt/ star
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/i/[edit]
cible /sibl/ target
dribble /dʀibl/ dribble
fini /fini/ finished
libre /libʀ/ free
prise /pʀiz/ caught
rythme /ʀitm/ pace
tir /tiʀ/ shot
type /tip/ type, ideal
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/o/[edit]
chaud /ʃo/ hot
dos /do/ back
crocs /kʀo/ fangs
gros /ɡʀo/ big
trop /tʀo/ too
drôle /dʀol/ strange
choses /ʃoz/ things
faute /fot/ foul
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/ɔ/[edit]
botte /bɔt/ boot
poste /pɔst/ position
choc /ʃɔk/ clash
phoque /fɔk/ seal
fort /fɔʀ/ strong
score /skɔʀ/ score
homme /ɔm/ man
homologue /ɔmɔlɔɡ/ counterpart
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/ɔ̃/[edit]
fond /fɔ̃/ back, depths
rond /ʀɔ̃/ ring, circle
monde /mɔ̃d/ world
compte /kɔ̃t/ account
contre /kɔ̃tʀ/ counter-attack
montre /mɔ̃tʀ/ wristwatch
nombre /nɔ̃bʀ/ number
plongeon /plɔ̃ʒɔ̃/ dive
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/u/[edit]

This is like the "o" in English "into".

bout /bu/ end
coup /ku/ blow, kick
doute /dut/ doubt
foot /fut/ football
foule /ful/ crowd
poule /pul/ pool
touche /tuʃ/ touch (line)
tour /tuʀ/ round
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/y/[edit]
plus /ply/ more
but /by(t)/ goal
chute /ʃyt/ fall, downfall
lutte /lyt/ struggle
rude /ʀyd/ tough
dur /dyʀ/ hard
mur /myʀ/ wall
nul /nyl/ draw, drawn
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
/w/[edit]
choix /ʃwa/ choice
fois /fwa/ time, instance
noir /nwaʀ/ black
poids /pwɑ/ weight
souhait /swɛ/ wish
coin /kwɛ̃/ corner
loin /lwɛ̃/ far
louange /lwɑ̃ʒ/ praise
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
___________________ ___________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________