Foreigners in England/France

Damian   Tuesday, June 01, 2004, 14:10 GMT
Some Scots trill their "Rs" ..I don't but I can easily do do and I have no probs pronouncing "brouilly" (br (trilled!)..oo...eee...uh (very slightly hinted at). "grenouille" (gr (trilled) (very slightly hinted at). I cannot find the exact symbol to express the French "en" sound or the sound in the French "grand" etc. Any one know the correct symbol? My dictionary has a symbol I can't find on my keyboard. The French and Scottish "Rs" are very similar. I love to try and pronounce a language as close as I can to native speakers.

I love listening to a French person speak English..the accent is cute. What is it like for French people hearing a British person speak French? I heard Queen Elizabeth speak French and to me it sounded quite good but I can';t judge not being a native French speaker..and listener.

Nic I'm not sure what you mean re the Scottish R and the Spanish J. I thought the Spanish J was a sound similar to the Scottish "ch" as in our word "loch".

One mystery to me is why English people are unable to pronounce this "ch" sound. Or why some non English speakers have problems with the "th" sound in words such as "think" and "think" etc.

Nic   Tuesday, June 01, 2004, 14:24 GMT
The spanish pronouce J in a word like "La jota" as a R which is
similar as the loch in scottish.
Axel   Tuesday, June 01, 2004, 15:28 GMT
English accent in French is very cute too!
It seems the french "u" is quite difficult to be pronounced for an English speaker. As Damian noticed, it is the same for some non native English speakers with the "th": for example it is hard to pronounce the "th" for a French speaker because French doesn't have a similar sound and it seems to be not very "natural" for us to speak in such a way (i.e. to put your tongue between your teeth). In fact "f" and "z" appears to be the closest sounds to the English "th" and that is why most French would say something like "fank you for zat stuff".
Lavoisel   Tuesday, June 01, 2004, 21:18 GMT
Yes, the hard "th" sound and the "f" sound are pretty similar indeed. However, I feel it is innacurate to substitute the soft "th" sound with a "z" sound. To use a "v" would be better. If I am not mistaken, this is the way Cockneys and certain British children pronounce them. So, again on condition that I did not misunderstood, I think "Fank you for vat stuff" would be closer to the "standard" pronunciation.
On the other hand, I find pretty hard to remember when to use a soft "th" or a hard one, except for the most frequently used words the likes of "the", "this", "thank" or "think" of course. If English had kept the precious letters "ð" and "þ", it would have made life a lot easier for any one who learns English mostly through written means. :-)

As for French spoken with a British accent, I too find it cute. Among others particularities, I am fond of the exagerately long "e" in "le" and the rather stressed intonations, especially at the end of sentences.

Damian, I hope you will have a pleasant gap year. I already had one after high school in which I went to Marroco for one month and a half. That was great. I can't wait to see the desert again. The drawback was that I had to made lots of rubbish part-time jobs when I was back to France to pay my huge debt off though, lol. Anyway, excellent souvenir! :-)
Damian   Tuesday, June 01, 2004, 22:00 GMT
Axel: I have no problems at all with the French "u" sound.....the Scots dialect is an English problem....bless! :-) The "th" sound is difficult for a lot of non-native English speakers...and it varies as you say between soft and hard but it just comes with practice. They have the same sound in the Welsh language...the "dd" in Welsh is the same sound exactly as the "th" sound in the English word "mother". I wonder if it is a Celtic thing, and it exists in Breton? Do people still speak Breton in that part of France? I have never been to Wales.

Lavoisel: you are right..sometimes the "th" sound becomes a "v" informally with a lot of people. Like "bother" becomes "bovver". You both know quite a lot about all this! I can't really imagine how French spoken with a British accent is cute! But I know for sure that English spoken with a French accent is so nice to hear. I mean that!

I still hope to have a gap year before I settle down to a proper job hopefully in journalism. I love words! hee hee! I will have to do bum jobs like you though...not sure where. Maybe the south of France.. I was in Spain last year...too hot working there but I had to. In an hotel. doing crap jobs but I loved it. It was 50C in Spain last summer. You like the desert? I hope you don't plan to join the Foreign Legion! :-)

Debts...tell me about it.. I owe Tony Blair one huge sum... .he can wait. It's fun being a student anyway so that's why he can wait for his money back. I do work as a supermarket checkout op anyway on Saturdays and Sundays. A bientot.
Might Mick   Wednesday, June 02, 2004, 06:23 GMT
Actually it's only really the Americans who have problems pronouncing the French "u".

Australians and most Brits have a similar diphthongised sound "u" in words like "two", "food", "shoot". (Americans pronounce these words with a diphthongised French "ou")
Might Mick   Friday, June 04, 2004, 11:28 GMT
The Scots roll their Rs with the tongue, right? That's no longer the case in France - that's considered old fashioned except in many parts of Quebec. The French R is produced in the throat like a gurgle.
nic   Friday, June 04, 2004, 11:30 GMT
French from Burgundy roll their S.
Damian   Friday, June 04, 2004, 13:24 GMT
Mick: sure, you're right...we roll our Rs with the tongue, unlike the French gurgly throat Rs. I make sure I use the right one when I attempt to speak French. I never knew that about Quebec. I would really like to know the main differences (if any) between Quebecois French and Metropolitan France French. Also, is there a distinct Parisian accent? Most capital cities seem to have their own regional accents.

Mick.. I think I owe you some answers on these threads..when I have time later I will trawl back and see what I have missed in response to you...Ive a feeling I saw one when my time was limited. Can't remember what it was right now.
patsd   Saturday, June 05, 2004, 07:40 GMT
<<<An amazing number of Americans have never even been out of their home State and I believe that less than 20% even have a passport.>>

We are very mobile within out borders, so the first part of that is completely false. Many people, if not most people, will live in more than one state, let alone travel to another state. I am 23 and have lived in 3 states so far and that is not out of the ordinary whatsoever. It is really not that big of a deal to travel to another state. There is no checkpoint or obstacle of any kind. The part about passports might be true, becuase most in this country do not do much international travel--primparily due to lack of interest, and becuase we have pride and want to see our own country first if we have the money to do extensive traveleing.
Damian   Saturday, June 05, 2004, 07:51 GMT
Ok, patsd....point taken...thanks. We can now freely travel within the 25 EU countries without border controls and checks....although they still check passports when you come back into the UK it seems. oops! is this off topic again? :-(
TOMEK   Saturday, June 05, 2004, 10:21 GMT
Might Mick   Sunday, June 06, 2004, 14:25 GMT
Celine Dion rolls them with her tongue. I didn't know about Burgandy, but I think it's true in some parts in the south of France.

I find it hard to understand Quebeckers, sometimes I think it's a different language completely even though the written one is the same. But it also depends on the register they use: street talk or more formal. The lesser the street wise register is, the more straightforward. Anyway there's plenty of info on it, a simple Google search will show.

You can read all about and listen to the differences of the various French regions here.
Ryan   Sunday, June 06, 2004, 18:32 GMT
Montreal-area French and Acadian French speakers trill their R's. In most of Eastern Quebec, including Quebec City, the R is the standard uvular fricative. In Ontario, one will hear the English retroflex R
Damian   Sunday, June 06, 2004, 23:41 GMT
Might Mick: thanks a lot for your info......I promise to comment futher on these points asap and answer our question a wee while back.....I wish I had more time to spend on this hugely interesting forum. Be alright after this coming week. Cheers for now :-)