Phonetic Symbols

The following IPA symbols (see 1.1.4) are used in this book: 1.7.2 Standard
French:

(i) Vowels (see chapter 4):
/i/ lit
/e/ pré
/ε/ prêt
/a/ patte

/y/ tu
/ø/ feu
/œ/ peur
/a/ pâte

/u/ fou
/o/ dos
/b/ botte

/h/ vin
/j/ un
/f/ bon

/e/ dans

/c/ je

(ii) Semi-consonants (see chapter 5):
/j/ yeux

/d/ lui

/w/ ouest

(iii) Consonants (see chapter 6):
/p/ pas
/b/ bas
/t/ tas
/d/ dos
/k/ coup

/f/ fou
/v/ vous
/s/ sou
/z/ zone
/ʃ/ chat

/g/ grand

/ʒ / jaune

/r/ rouge
/l/ lit
/m/ ma
/n/ nous
/ ɲ / vigne
/ŋ/ parking

/ʔ/ (glottal stop – see 14.6)

The Vowel Phonemes
1-Point of Articulation
‘Point of articulation’ is merely the technical term for ‘the place in the mouth
where a sound is produced’. French vowels may be classified, broadly speaking,
according to whether they are pronounced in the front of the mouth, i.e. between
the blade of the tongue and the palate, or between the back of the tongue and the
velum. We may therefore speak of ‘front vowels’ and ‘back vowels’. (Many
languages also have ‘central’ vowels but we do not need this category for our
present purposes.)
‫ٔمطح اٌفظاؼح‬
' ‫ح لَذ‬١‫ أؼشف اٌعٍح اٌفشٔس‬.' ‫ٔرط‬
َ ‫خ أ‬ٛ‫س أْ ط‬١‫ اٌفَُ ؼ‬ٟ‫ ي' اٌّىاْ ف‬ٟٕ‫ش اٌرم‬١‫ٔمطح اٌفظاؼح ' ِعشّد اٌرعث‬
، ‫اج‬ٌٍٙ‫ا‬ٚ ْ‫ٓ ٔظً اٌٍسا‬١‫ ت‬. :‫ آخش‬ٕٝ‫تّع‬ٚ ،َُ‫ ِمذِح اٌف‬ٟ‫اء ُ٘ ذٍفظ ف‬ٛ‫ طثما ٌس‬،‫اسع‬ٚ ً‫ َٔاطمح تشى‬،‫ذظّٕف‬
ِٓ ‫ذ‬٠‫ح ' (اٌعذ‬١‫' أؼشف عٍح خٍف‬ٚ ‫ح‬١ِ‫ ٔؽٓ لَذ َٔرىٍُّ عٓ ٌزا ' أؼشف عٍح أِا‬.‫اٌغشاء‬ٚ ْ‫ٓ خٍف اٌٍسا‬١‫ ت‬َٚ‫أ‬
0 )‫ح‬١ٌ‫ ٘زا اٌظٕف ألغشاضٕا اٌؽا‬ٌٝ‫ضا ٌَىٕٕا ٌَسٕا تؽاظح إ‬٠‫ح' أ‬٠‫ا أؼشف عٍح 'ِشوز‬ٌَٙ ‫اٌٍغاخ‬

été،é ٟٕ‫ع‬٠ ،ْ‫ٕ٘ان ؼشفاْ عٍّح آخشا‬ .2.etc. strictly speaking.with the lips rounded. ٚ )‫غٍك ٔظف‬٠ َٚ‫ أ‬،‫سظ‬ٚ ٌٟ‫ (عا‬. etc. it should be remembered that the rounding of the lips in French is appreciably more pronounced than it is for approximately similar vowels in English. The vowel /i/ as in lit. The difference lies in the fact that the I of lit. vite. (The terms ‘half close’ and ‘half open’ should not be taken too literally. patte. eleven are rounded. .très. Depending on whether we choose to base our terminology on the height of the tongue or on the degree of aperture (i. namely the é of été. ٟ‫ وّا ف‬/i/ ‫ ؼشف اٌعٍّح‬. but the terms ‘half close’ and ‘half open’ are convenient and in such widespread use that it would be pedantic to reject them. etc. etc. in this connection. And. we can refer to the vowel /i/ either as a high front vowel or as a close front vowel and to /a/ either as a low front vowel or as an open front vowel. etc.to /i/ as a high front vowel we have not in fact described it adequately. there are two other vowels. for example.Lip Configuration In referring.is pronounced with the lips spread and the u of mur.6).‫ اٌخ‬.‫ضؽا تأَخز ِصا َي‬َٛ ِ َْٛ‫َى‬٠ ً‫ّىٓ أَْ أفض‬٠ ًِ‫٘زا اٌعا‬ lit ... they refer respectively to vowels that are ‘rather less than half open’ and ‘rather more than half open’.)‫غ‬ٛ‫ ٔظف اٌّفر‬َٚ‫ أ‬،‫سظ‬ٚ ‫(ِٕخفض‬ (' ٍٝ‫َْ ع‬ٚ‫ش‬١‫ش‬٠ ،‫ذ‬٠‫ظٗ اٌرؽذ‬ٚ ٍٝ‫ا؛ ع‬١‫ضا ؼشف‬٠‫َأخ َز أ‬٠ ْ‫َعة أ‬٠ ‫' ٔظف فرػ ' ال‬ٚ '‫ط ٔظف غٍك‬ٚ‫اٌشش‬ ' ‫ ٌىٓ اٌّظطٍؽاخ‬،' ‫' أوصش ِٓ إٌظف فرػ‬ٚ' ‫ ألً ِٓ ٔظف فرػ‬ٜ‫ ' تاألؼش‬ٟ‫ أؼشف اٌعٍح اٌر‬ٌٝ‫ إ‬ٌٟ‫ا‬ٛ‫اٌر‬ 0) ُٙ‫ْ ِرؽزٌك ٌ َشفض‬ٛ‫َى‬٠ ْ‫اسع اإلٔرشاس تأ‬ٌٛ‫ ِصً ٘زا اإلسرعّاي ا‬ٟ‫ف‬ٚ ًٙ‫' ٔظف فرػ' س‬ٚ '‫ٔظف غٍك‬ 3. as the same description applies to the sound represented in French as u.3). In between.‫َفرػ‬٠ ‫ل فمظ‬١ٍ‫اٌفَُ ل‬ٚ ‫اج‬ٌٍٙ‫ ا‬ٛ‫ق ٔؽ‬ٛ‫ٍفظ تاٌٍساْ َسف َع َؼسٕا ف‬٠ ٓ‫ ٌى‬،ِٟ‫ضا ؼشف عٍّح أِا‬٠‫ أ‬، .‫شا ظذا‬١‫غ وص‬ٛ‫اٌفَُ ِفر‬ٚ ‫تح ِطٍما‬ٛ‫ ِمذِح اٌفَُ تاٌٍساْ َسفعد تظع‬ٟ‫ٍفظ ف‬٠ .The Height of the Tongue or the Degree of Aperture This factor can best be explained by taking an example. We can therefore distinguish between the two by saying that lit has a high front unrounded (or spread) vowel and mur a high front rounded vowel. mur (s 10. or half open).‫ اٌخ‬. as in du. :‫ آخش‬ٕٝ‫تّع‬ٚ( ‫ دسظح اٌفرؽح‬ٍٝ‫ ع‬َٚ‫ إسذفاع اٌٍساْ أ‬ٍٝ‫اء َٔخراس إسٕاد ِظطٍؽٕا ع‬ٛ‫ س‬ٍٝ‫إعرّاد ع‬ ٌٝ‫إ‬ٚ ‫ة‬٠‫ لَش‬ِٟ‫ وؽشف عٍّح أِا‬َٚ‫ أ‬ٌٟ‫ عا‬ِٟ‫ أ ِّا وؽشف عٍّح أِا‬/i/ ‫ ؼشف اٌعٍّح‬ٌٝ‫ش إ‬١‫ش‬ َ ٔ َْ‫ّىٓ أ‬٠ ٓ‫ ٔؽ‬،َُ‫اٌف‬ ،)10. bête.) ‫ دسظح اٌفرؽح‬َٚ‫إسذفاع اٌٍساْ أ‬ ، . as we shall see (10. ê. openness) of the mouth.‫ اٌخ‬،vite )‫ إٔفراغ‬.6( ٜ‫ وّا ٔؽٓ َسَٕش‬،‫سظ‬ٌٛ‫ ا‬ٟ‫ ف‬. of the sixteen French vowels that we shall identify.‫ اٌخ‬،ma . We shall see (chapter10) that..e. is also a front vowel. or half close) and the è. is pronounced in the front of the mouth with the tongue hardly raised at all and the mouth fairly wide open. but pronounced with the tongue raised well up towards the palate and the mouth only slightly open. ê of très. (high-mid..‫غ‬ٛ‫ ِفر‬ِٟ‫ وؽشف عٍّح أِا‬َٚ‫ ِٕخفض أ‬ِٟ‫ أ ِّا وؽشف عٍّح أِا‬/a/ . lutte. bête ،è. etc. (low-mid. The French vowel /a/ as in ma. patte ٟ‫ وّا ف‬/a/ ٟ‫ ؼشف اٌعٍّح اٌفشٔس‬.

vite. un. chanter.‫ اٌخ‬، can ً‫ اٌىٍّاخ ِص‬ٟ‫ ف‬ٞ‫ز‬١ٍ‫ إٔع‬ٟ‫ذز ف‬ ،)‫ح‬٠‫ٌٕذ‬ٛ‫ت‬ٚ ‫ح‬١ٌ‫ْ تشذغا‬ٚ‫ْ أؼذ٘ َُ (آخش‬ٛ‫ح ذى‬١‫ فشٔس‬،‫ح ؼاي‬٠‫ أ‬ٍٝ‫ ع‬،‫ تَعض اٌٍغاخ‬. Certain languages.ِٟ‫س األِا‬ّٚ ‫ اٌّذ‬ٌٟ‫ اٌعا‬mur ّ )10 ً‫ (فظ‬ٜ‫ٔؽٓ َسَٕش‬ ٟ‫ف‬ٚ ، . which are not allophones of other phonemes but phonemes in their own right.‫س‬ٚ‫ تاٌشفاٖ ِذ‬، . page Some problems connected with the distinction between /e/ and /ε/ are discussed in 10.)‫ ؼشف اٌعٍّح‬allophone ‫ح خلي األٔف‬٠‫ب تؽش‬ٚ‫اء ٘ش‬ٌٛٙ‫اس ا‬١‫َسّػ ٌر‬٠ ،‫ وافح أٔؽاء‬ٟ‫ٕ ّزي ف‬٠ ‫ا اٌغشاء‬ٙ١‫ ف‬ٟ‫ٌَٗ أؼشف اٌعٍح اٌر‬ ‫ ذٍه ِٓ اٌىٍّاخ‬،‫ح عٕذَ٘ا أستعح ِصً ٘زٖ أؼشف اٌعٍح‬١‫ اٌفشٔس‬.‫سج شفح‬ٛ‫ط‬ ‫ّٕا‬١‫ ت‬،ٟ‫طفَٗ تشىً واف‬َٛ ٔ ‫مح‬١‫ اٌؽم‬ٟ‫ ٔؽٓ ٌُ ف‬ٌٟ‫ عا‬ِٟ‫ وؽشف عٍّح أِا‬/i/ ٌٝ‫ إ‬،‫ً اٌّصاي‬١‫ سث‬ٍٝ‫ ع‬،‫ إشاسج‬ٟ‫ف‬ .)10. grand ً‫ِص‬ َ . .3 ‫ (شا٘ذ‬du . however.ٟ‫ُ اٌشخظ‬ّٙ‫ّاخ تؽىُ ؼم‬١ٔٛ‫اٌف‬ Front Unrounded Vowels The front unrounded vowels and the IPA symbols for them are: Symbol Definition Examples i high lit. and which therefore have a pronounced nasal quality. have vowels in which the velum is lowered throughout.lutte.‫ اٌخ‬،lit ،i ْ‫تأ‬ ‫ؼشف عٍّح‬ٚ ‫ َٔش َش) ؼشف عٍّح‬َٚ‫ (أ‬ٌٟ‫ عا‬ِٟ‫س أِا‬ّٚ ‫ش ِذ‬١‫ ٌَٗ غ‬lit ٞ‫ي اٌز‬ٛ‫ٓ اإلشٕاْ تاٌم‬١‫ َّز ٌزا ت‬١ّٔ َْ‫ّىٓ أ‬٠ .10).‫س‬ّٚ ‫ أؼ َذ عش َش ِذ‬،‫ّز‬١ّٕ‫عشش تإّٔٔا َس‬ ‫ح اٌسرّح‬١‫ ِٓ أؼشف اٌعٍح اٌفشٔس‬،ْ‫تأ‬ َ ّ ‫رز ّو َش‬٠ َْ‫َعة أ‬٠ ،‫٘زا اٌظذد‬ ‫ثا‬٠‫ح أوصش ذٍفظ ِم ّذسج ِٕٗ ألؼشف اٌعٍح اٌّّاشٍح ذمش‬١‫ اٌفشٔس‬ٟ‫ش اٌشفاٖ ف‬٠ٚ‫تأْ ذَذ‬ ‫ح‬٠‫ز‬١ٍ‫ اٌٍغح اإلٔع‬ٟ‫ف‬ 4. un. bête.‫ٍفَظ‬٠ ‫ّٕا ؼشف اٌعٍّح اٌ َساتك‬١‫شب خلي األٔف ت‬َٙ٠ ‫اء لَذ‬ٌٛٙ‫ تَعض ا‬،n ً‫ ِص‬ٟ‫ لثً ؼشف ساوٓ أٔف‬،‫رٌه‬ َ ‫َؽ‬٠ َْ‫ّىٓ أ‬٠ ٖ‫٘ز‬ ‫ ٘زٖ اٌؽاٌح عٕذَٔا ذَىٍّ َُ ِٓ األٔف‬ٟ‫ ف‬، . patte. in which case we have a slightly nasalized allophone of the vowel). son. grand (see 10. pré. faire a low la.‫ح‬١‫دج أٔف‬ٛ‫ ٌَٗ ذٍفظ ظ‬ٞ‫اٌز‬ٚ ،َُ‫ اٌف‬ٌٝ‫تاإلضافح إ‬ ٓ‫ ٌى‬ٜ‫ّاخ األخش‬١ٔٛ‫ ِٓ اٌف‬allophones ‫سد‬١ٌَ ٞ‫ اٌز‬،)10. j’ai ε low-mid très.Orality or Nasality In describing most European languages. nez. ‫ح‬١‫ األٔف‬ٚ‫ح أ‬٠ٛ‫اٌشف‬ َ ‫عة أْ ال َٔؽرا َض ٌٍؽساب ٘زا اٌعاًِ (تاسرصٕاء ستّا إلشاسج‬٠َ ٓ‫ ٔؽ‬،‫ح‬١‫ت‬ٚ‫س‬ٚ‫طف األوصش اٌٍغاخ األ‬َٚ ٟ‫ف‬ . we should not need to take account of this factor (except perhaps to mention that before a nasal consonant such as n. dire. those of words such as vin. French has four such vowels. some air may escape through the nose while the preceding vowel is being uttered this can happen in English in words such as can. jette. allowing the airstream to scape freely through the nose as well as the mouth.6 below. etc.10( ‫ شا٘ذ‬vin.. son. French being one of them (others are Portuguese and Polish). mur ٟ‫ وّا ف‬،u ‫ح وـ‬١‫ اٌفشٔس‬ٟ‫خ ِصّ ًَ ف‬ٛ‫ اٌظ‬ٌٝ‫م ّذَ إ‬٠ ‫طف‬ٌٛ‫ٔفس ا‬ ّ ‫مح‬١‫ اٌؽم‬ٟ‫َىّٓ اإلخرلف ف‬٠ ٓ‫ ٔؽ‬.‫ اٌخ‬،u murٚ َٖ‫ ذٍفظ تئٔرشاس اٌشفا‬، . y e high-mid été.

le. etc.9. and the first vowel of celui. feu. There is a case for considering that it is not in fact a phoneme but merely an allophone of /ø/ or of /œ/. generally speaking. etc. je. ‘e instable’ or ‘e féminin’. some of which we shall not go into. see 11. depuis. However. mur ø high-mid peu. the conditions in which it is or is not pronounced constitute one of the major problems in French phonetics and we therefore devote a chapter (see chapter 11) to this particular problem. it is a mid front vowel pronounced – and this is an important point to be borne in mind – with rounded lips. There are numerous and complex problems associated with the vowel /ə/. que. sœur Some problems connected with the distinction between /ø/ and /oe/ are discussed in 10. joyeuse œ low-mid fleur. It is otherwise known as ‘neutral e’ or.). crever. etc. it is not pronounced) is that it is probably the most widely used in English. ‘e muet’) refers to the vowel of ce.1. None of these terms is wholly satisfactory and the only reason we retain that of ‘mute e’ (which refers to the fact that. Mute e The term ‘mute e’ (in French.Front Rounded Vowels Symbol Definition Examples y high du. (For more on this. ne. It is. ‘e caduc’. nous faisons. The symbol for mute e is [ə]. in French. lutte.7 below.) . je faisais.1. premier. seul. Its pronunciation varies somewhat from one individual to another but. For practical purposes. however. in monsieur and in parts of the verb faire ( faisant. it seems simpler to consider it as an independent phoneme.5). pronounced in the same general area as [ø] or [œ] (see also 4. it is always written e. Except in the first syllables of the words faisan ‘pheasant’ and related words. neutre. Therefore. Another problem associated with /ə/ is that of its phonemic status.. in circumstances to be discussed in chapter 11.

sainte un. pâte. monte an. see 10.8 below. brun. grand.9 below. entre Summary Table The vowel phonemes of French are. cent. côte. the following: Oral High High-mid Low-mid Low Front Unrounded i e ε a Front rounded y ø oe Front Unrounded h Front rounded j Back rounded u o b a Nasal Mid Low ============ Back rounded f e . long. grosse. dont. plein. bosse ɑ low pas. fort. humble on. beau ɔ low-mid folle. grasse Some problems connected with the distinction between /o/ and /ɔ/ are discussed in 10. soupe. autre. On /a/ and /ɑ/.Back Rounded Vowels Note that French has no back unrounded vowels. therefore. Nasal Vowels Symbol Definition Examples H mid front unrounded j mid front rounded f mid back rounded e low back rounded vin. rouge o high-mid dos. Symbol Definition Examples u high coup.

4 ٜ‫َش‬٠( ‫ اٌصاٌس‬. but not so high as to cause the degree of friction characterizing fricative consonants (see 6.‫ اٌخ‬،) toy ،layer ،you ،y yes( ‫ح‬٠‫ز‬١ٍ‫اإلٔع‬ٚ ّ .The Semi-Consonants French has three ‘sounds’ (whether they are phonemes or allophones is discussed briefly below. However. /y/ ٚ/u/ 0‫ّاخ‬١ٔٛ‫ا واٌف‬ٙ‫ أوصش ِلئّح ٌٍرعاًِ ِع‬ٛ٘ ‫ح‬٠‫س‬ٛ‫ح اٌف‬١ٍّ‫ ألغشاضٕا اٌع‬، ‫ح ؼاي‬٠‫ أ‬ٍٝ‫ع‬ . /y/ ‫ح اٌصلشح‬١ٌ‫ألؼشف اٌعٍح اٌعا‬ . /y/ and /u/.2 ،‫) َِٕالَشح تاخرظاس ذؽد‬allophones( َٚ‫ّاخ أ‬١ٔٛ‫ف‬ ُ٘ ‫اء‬ٛ‫اخ' (س‬ٛ‫ح عٕذَ٘ا شلشح 'أط‬١‫اٌفشٔس‬ . /z/)ً‫) ِص‬6. toy. in fact. /z/.1. and the English y of yes.4) has no equivalent in English or indeed in most other languages. The third (see 5.‫ف اٌساوٕح‬ٚ‫ ِٓ اٌؽش‬َٚ‫ اٌظٕف أ ِّا ِٓ أؼشف اٌعٍح أ‬ٌٝ‫اضػ إ‬ٚ ً‫ ال ذٕذسض تشى‬ٟ‫اٌر‬ ، . for our immediate practical purposes it is more convenient to treat them as phonemes.‫ و ًّ سِزٖ اٌخاص‬ٌٝ‫ّض إ‬ َ ‫ٔخظ‬ٚ ‫اٌصلشح‬ ‫ف اٌعٍح‬ٚ‫ف اٌساوٕح ِٓ ؼش‬ٚ‫اخ شثٗ اٌؽش‬٠ٛ‫ٌىٓ وّا اٌٍغ‬ٚ ‫اخ‬١‫ذ‬ٛ‫س وّا اٌظ‬١ٌ ‫ذظٕف‬ /i/. layer. The three sounds in question are pronounced by raising the tongue even higher than for the three high vowels /i/.. /v/. wet.ٜ‫ أوصش اٌٍغاخ األخش‬ٟ‫مح ف‬١‫اٌؽم‬ َ ِٓ ٝ‫ ؼر‬ٍٝ‫ضع اٌسّؤاي ذٍفظ ت َشفع اٌٍساْ اع‬ِٛ ‫اخ اٌصلشح‬ٛ‫األط‬ ْ‫إ‬ ٞ‫ اٌسثة دسظح اإلؼرىان اٌز‬ٌٝ‫ ظذا تإٌسثح إ‬َٟ ٌ‫س عا‬١ َ ٌَ ٓ‫ ٌى‬، u/ٚ /i/. Two of these correspond approximately to (though they are not totally identical with) the English w of was. you. etc. 5. /s/. َ )5. َ‫ح‬١ٌ‫ف اٌساوٕح اٌّماتٍح ألؼشفَ اٌعٍح اٌعا‬ٚ‫ ِسأٌح ِا شثٗ اٌؽش‬ٟ‫اخ اٌصلشح ف‬ٛ‫األط‬ َ ‫عرثش‬ َ َٔ َْ‫ّىٓ أ‬٠ ٓ‫ٔؽ‬ ْ‫ أ‬ٟ‫ٕثغ‬٠ ٗٔ‫ اٌمائً أ‬ٞ‫ذ اٌشأ‬٠‫ح ذؤ‬٠ٛ‫ ؼعط ل‬،‫مح‬١‫ اٌؽم‬ٟ‫ ف‬،‫ ٕ٘ان‬.7) such as /f/.7 ٜ‫َش‬٠( َ‫ح‬١‫ف ساوٕحَ إؼرىاو‬ٚ‫ّز ؼش‬١ّ٠ We can therefore consider the three sounds in question as semi-consonants corresponding to the three high vowels and assign to each its own symbol.2) that do not fall clearly into the category either of vowels or of consonants. /s/.1. strong arguments in favour of the view that they should be classified not as phonemes but as semi-consonantal allophones of the vowels /i/. There are.‫ ) اٌخ‬w،wet ،was( ‫ح‬٠‫ز‬١ٍ‫ا َِع) اإلٔع‬١ٍ‫َٓ و‬١ٍ‫ا ِّاش‬ٛ‫س‬١ٌَ ُٙٔ‫ (ِع تئ‬ٌٝ‫ثا إ‬٠‫طاتك ذمش‬٠ ٖ‫إشٕاْ ِٓ ٘ز‬ ٟ‫ ف‬َٚ‫ح أ‬٠‫ز‬١ٍ‫ إٔع‬ٟ‫س ٌٗ ِىافئ ف‬ َ ١ٌَ )5. etc.1. etc. /v/. /y/-/u/.‫ اٌخ‬، (/f/.1.

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