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French pronunciation guide & tips~

Ok, so after the Mandarin guide, I'm making the one for French !


As it is my mothertongue, normally it'd take less time to write down than Mandarin ^^"'

I will include an audiofile as soon as possible~
Please note I'm using my own accent, and thus, it may differ from other speakers. See the exceptions part for more informations.


I. The vowels

A / â : The French a is open, like Japanese one. Sometimes, some speakers may add a slightly darkish a for the a with an ^ accent (such as in pâte ). Normally there's barely any difference and thus, "a" is used for "a", "â", "à".

E : This vowel can be tricky as all will depend on the following letters (or the ones preceding it). Usually, French E is pronounced as "euh", roughly like the e in "perfect" or i in "sir". As I said in the Mandarin Chinese guide, the Freench E is done with your mouth, whereas Chinese is done by diaphragm.

- é : With this acute, the French E is pronounced as éé like in "chanté", or in English "very"
- è / ê : it is the èè sound like in "boulangère". It's close to the "e" in "bet".

I : It is pronounced as "ee" in "Wheel".

O : There are two ways to pronounce this sound, depending of the word, sometimes the spelling.

- closed o : it's said on the tin. It's a closed o sound you'll likely hear in the word "rose". It's close to the English form of the word, but you need to get that o closed.
- open o : this one occurs in a few cases. Like for the word "rose" where the open o will give you the "rose" as the flower, whereas the closed o will refer to "rose" as the colour. Some words with an acuted o (such as "côte" ) will be pronounced as open o, but others don't (like "rôti" which features a closed o).Again, it differs from a region to another.

U : French U. Pronounced as "ü" as in "rue". To give you an idea, it's like "newt" or "few" in Scottish English but very rounded and way much more brighter (and without the "y" before the "u"). It's even brighter than Japanese U and Korean "eu".

"OU" : This is what matches to Spanish U or the English "oo" sound like in "root" (though slightly more closed). It happens most of the time when the letter "o" is followed by an u, like in the words "doux" and "boue".

"AE" : It is the è/ ê sound.

"EU" : Different from the French E sound. It happens mostly when an u follows the e. It's the sound you get in the word "beurre". In English, it's somewhat closer to the schwa, or to the "e" in "never" in British English and the "a" in "again".

Nasalized sounds : These sounds are the nasal forms of some vowels. I will try to give you a few tips to get a close pronunciation.

-An : nasalized form of "a". To mimic it, think about the word "rang". From English "rang" word to French "rang". Say "rang" as in English. Now, redo-it, but drop the "ng". You will be close to the an of French "rang"~

-Ein : nasalized form of "è" like in "hein". For this,let's take the word "penny". Then, pronounce it as if the "nny" was replaced by an ng sound. And then, pronounce that made-up word without the ng.

-On : nasalized form of the open o. Think about the word "long" in English. To obtain "long", use the same tip as for "rang".

- Un : nasalized form of "eu", as in the word "parfum" or "un". Think about the English word "lung", and apply the same method as above.

II. Consonants

B, D, G, L, M, N, S, Sh, V, Y are pronounced the same as in English, though less....."drawn/long".

CH & H sounds don't exist. Ch only occurs in loanwords, and H is only pronounced for laughing "haha hehe hihi ho ho huhu" or for some loanwords.

K, T, P are NOT pronounced THE SAME AS ENGLISH. They are pronounced with NO PUFF OF AIR AT ALL.

W is pronounced the same as V like in "wagon". However, the W phonem like you have in English (such as in "woods" ) exists, but it won't be spelt as W... In fact it'll be spelt majorly like "oi" as in "voir".

French R. It is pronounced like a sweet jota, done with teeth instead of throat. Get some saliva in your throat and the rest of your mouth for better results.

French J is pronounced as the S in "pleasure" and "treasure". It is pronounced a "dj" only on foreign names such as "James" or loanwords.

French Z is pronounced differently. It's sweeter than English. Instead to be "dz" it is pronounced as "zzz". It is only pronounced "dzzz" in loanwords.

X has two pronunciations : Ksss as in "makes" and "gzzz" as in "exist".

III. Exceptions

Be careful with spelling ! When you use your voicebank, try to check the phonetics and then, apply the appropriate ones. For example, some words like "eau", "pataud", "colo".... Are all ending up with an "o" sound.

LL sound is as tricky. If it's "ille" it'll be likely like "yyy" as in Spanish. Otherwise, it'll be pronounced as "l".

And not every French speaker pronounce the words the same (yep, like how English speakers do.) For example, in my area we pronounce "après" and balai" as "apré" and "balé". Or Québécois "ou" sound being different, as their T and Ds. In my area we also tend to pronounce the final "e" (which are often mute usually).

Glides : be careful ! If your VB has to say "elles sont", use "èl son". And be careful, if the following word is starting by an H. Then, for "les héros" or "les hiboux" don't make your VB say "lé zé ro" or "lé zi bou" !!!! Make it sing "lé éro" or "lé i bou".

Followed by an E or an I, G isn't pronounced as G but as jjjj.

Aaand again, be careful of some traps, like the mute letters. For example, the word "fils" being pronounced as "fiss". Except if you're talking about "fils", the plural of the word "fil" then it's pronounced as "fil", no matter if it's singular or plural.

Hoping it helped you and thanks ! ^^ I will add some stuffs if I forgot them or foudn better ways to explain them~​
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