Understanding FrenchGrammar IIntroduction to French
French is a musical, romantic language, and its sounds need practice and a fair amount of attention. Although you can make yourself understood in French despite your own regionalaccent, use this chapter to help you sound as much like a native as possible.Four areas need your undivided attention: accents, vowels, nasal sounds, and consonants,combined with the techniques of liaison and elision. The sounds of French vowels and nasalsare quite different from the sounds you may be accustomed to in English; for that reason,vowels and nasals require some practice to obtain good results. Unlike English, French hasaccent marks that may or may not effect a change in pronunciation. In addition, many Frenchconsonants have the same pronunciation as those in English — only a few require additionalconcentration.Keep in mind that each syllable in a French word has about equal stress, so by putting about thesame emphasis on each syllable, you get the best results possible. Slightly stronger emphasis is placed on the last syllable of a group of words.In addition, consider the following tips for better pronunciation:
Speak slowly and clearly.
Combine sounds and words for a more natural flow.
Practice reading aloud authentic French materials.
Listen to tapes and records to get a better feel for the sounds of the language.
Don't be afraid to ham it up; that is, trying your best to sound like a native Frenchspeaker.
Pay attention to accents and nasal sounds.
Liaison and Elision
refers to the linking of the final consonant of one word with the beginning vowel (a, e,i, o, u) or vowel sound (generally, h and y) to the following word, as in the following example:
(voo zee-mee-tay). Note how pronunciation of the final “s” of
takes on the sound of “z” and combines withthe pronunciation of the beginning “i” of
usually occurs when two vowel sounds are pronounced: one at the end of a word andthe other at the beginning of the next word. Drop the final vowel of the first word and replace itwith an apostrophe. The two words then simply slide together:
(zhee-meet). Note how the final “e” (uh) sound of
(zhuh) is dropped.