Is French a phonetic language???

Zack   Saturday, May 08, 2004, 03:11 GMT
Smith   Saturday, May 08, 2004, 03:23 GMT
Zack, All languages are phonetic. ''phonemic'' is a more correct word.
Hors d'oeuvres   Saturday, May 08, 2004, 03:30 GMT
No, it's not.
Lavoisel   Saturday, May 08, 2004, 07:50 GMT
Yes, as Hors d'Oeuvres says it is not phonemic, because the pronounciation of most of the letters is contextual.

"R" is most of the time pronounced like the Arabic "ghain" but is pronounced like a Spanish "jota" if a "P" precedes it.

"S" is pronounced like his English counterpart unless it is surrounded by two vowels (in the latter case, it takes two "S" to produce the "s" sound and a single "S" will be pronounced "z").

Most of the final "T" and final "S" are not pronounced.

The "ch" combination is pronounced like the English "sh" combination.

The "ph" combination is similar to the English one.

"Ain", "in", "un", "ein" represent the same sound.

"En" and "an" represent the same sound.

"Ai", "é", (and also "er" and "et" when they are at the end of a word ) represent the same sound.

"Au", "eau", "o", "ô" represent more or less the same sound.
Willy   Sunday, May 09, 2004, 01:42 GMT
French is hard to learn but it's beautiful. French is known as the language of love but English is know for foreigners as the language of illogical things.

For example: the pronunciation of English, not pronounced as written. It's crazy for people who bother saying English is made in a wrong way.

For me it is true and I cannot do anything to help them. Did I invent the Old English, Middle English, or Modern English? I don't know why people call it modern when it is not regularized(reformed).
Jim   Monday, May 10, 2004, 05:32 GMT
All spoken languages are phonetic and phonemic. You mean "Is French orthography phonemic?"
2b   Monday, May 10, 2004, 07:08 GMT

It's thhe same with french, you do not pronounce french the same way you read it.

Illagical? There are less irrgular verbs in english compared to spanish
Jim   Monday, May 10, 2004, 07:16 GMT
Generally speaking English is spoken just as its written most of the time.
Adam   Monday, May 10, 2004, 12:51 GMT
English is unphonetic, probably one of the most unphonetic languages in the world. French is also very unhonetic. English also has a hell of a lot of irregular verbs.
Ben   Monday, May 10, 2004, 13:17 GMT
Yeah, but French seems to at least have RULES to its pronunciation, while English has absolutely none.
Chilli   Monday, May 10, 2004, 15:11 GMT
Ben, as far as I can tell, English is not the only language that cannot stand up to rigorous, inflexible rules. A better way to look at it is that there are patterns: (thought, bought, taught, caught etc) and then there are exceptions: (tough, rough etc)

This doesn't mean that English is devoid of rules; it just makes it less predictable than, maths, for example, where the same ingredients will unfailingly produce the same answers. It's what makes language more like an art and less like a science.
Jim   Tuesday, May 11, 2004, 06:28 GMT
English orthography does have its rules and is not really all that unphonetic it's nothing compared to Chinese or Japanese orthography. If you want to pretend that English has one of the most unphonetic orthographies in the World, you first have to pretend that Chinese and Japanese don't exist.

I say there are other more important things distinguishing language from science but I catch Chilli's drift and agree with what he's writing. Have a look at the link I posted. The web-page author wrote a program which got the pronunciation right 85% of the time with some really simple rules.
nic   Tuesday, May 11, 2004, 07:01 GMT
All the writings have been made for nothung, why?
Because you must know all the languages from earth to say this one is or not bla bla bla.
Willy   Tuesday, May 18, 2004, 01:17 GMT
French has the rule to pronounce "ou" as (u:) but English is not phonetical.

soup (soop)

couple (cupple)

double (dubble)

coupon (coopon)

through (throo)

though (dhoh)

dough (doh)

cough (coff)

thorough (thorra)

hiccough (hickup), not "hiccup"

plough (plow)

Normans never thought that English could change the ou with so many sounds. France is so near to England but England is so far to France.

English drink soup and French drink soupe. English has no gender in soup but French does. La soupe is not the soup English drink.
Thank you, Willy!   Tuesday, May 18, 2004, 01:52 GMT
Pronunciation (proh-nuhN-sya-'syohN)
The greatest difficulty in pronouncing French is knowing which letters not to pronounce. Many French "silent" letters are facultative, being used only to indicate sounds that are pronounced under certain circumstances. So the student of French really has to first learn the sounds of letters (easy), then when to pronounce them (hard). This document covers the former. A later edition of this document will attempt to explain the latter.

As mentioned above, many French consonants are not pronounced. However, certain generalizations can be made about how they are pronounced when they are. The following is a list of default sounds made by various French letter combinations:
b, d, f, k, l, m, n, p, t, v, y, and z are pronounced generally as in English.

c is pronounced as s before e, i, y.
is pronounced as k before a, o, u.
Examples: cette /set/, café /ka fe/

ç is pronounced as s and only occurs before a, o, u.
Examples: ça /sa/, garçon /gar sõ/

ch is pronounced as sh.
Examples: chaud /sho/, riche /reesh/

tch is pronounced as ch.
Examples: tchèque /chek/, Tchad /chad/

g is pronounced as the s in "vision" before e, i, y.
is pronounced as a hard g like "garter" before a, o, u.
Examples: gendarme /zhã darm/, gaulois /go lwa/

h is never pronounced. (See aspirated "h"s.)

j is pronounced as the s in "vision".
Examples: joli /zho lee/, janvier /zhã vee ay/

ille is usually pronounced as y.
Examples: bille /bee/, caille /kigh/
Exceptions: Gilles /zheel/, ville /vil/, mille /meel/

ph is pronounced as f.
Examples: téléphone /tay lay fohn/, phare /far/

qu is pronounced as k.
Examples: quart /kar/, pique /peek/

r is pronounced on the uvula (the narrow flap which hangs down in the back of your mouth). The French will forgive you if you use a weakly rolled "r" instead. Remember not to blend your "r" with other consonants (e.g. "tr" is never pronounced as the "tr" in "truck"); you may care to add a schwa (unaccented syllable) before the "r" to avoid blending them.

s between vowels is pronounced as "z".
at the end of words is usually silent.
Examples: bise /beez/, très /tray/

ss is pronounced as s.
Examples: laisser /les say/, croissant /crwahs sã:/

th is pronounced as t.
Examples: thé /tay/, thèse /tez/

w is usually pronounced w.
Example: watt /wat/ (note: all "w" words are borrowed)
Exceptions: "wagon" /va gõ/ and about eight other words use a v sound.

x before most consonants is pronounced as ks.
before most vowels is pronounced as gz.
before an unaccented "e" is pronounced as ks.
at the end of words is unpronounced.
Examples: exciter /ek see tay/, taxe /taks/, examen /eg za me~/, faux /fo/
Exceptions: Bruxelles, Auxerre, and several other town names use "x" pronounced as s. Aix, Aix-les-Bains, Aix-la-Chapelle are all pronounced ex.

y as a word is pronounced "ee" or as "y" before words beginning with vowels.
Examples: nous y sommes /noo zee sum/, il y a /eel ya/

Non-nasal Vowels
a and â are between the a in "cat" (American) and in "father".
Examples: gateau /ga to/, pâté /pa tay/

ai within words, is pronounced as a short e like in "bed".
at the end of words, is pronounced as a long a like in "late".
Examples: aime /em/, j'ai /zhay/

au, aux, are pronounced as a clipped long o.
aulx, Examples: beau /bo/, aux /o/, châteaux /sha to/, eau /o/
and eaux.

e is pronounced as a short e before two or more consonants.
is pronounced as a schwa (represented here by @) before a single consonant followed by a vowel.
is pronounced as a long a before "r" at the end of a word
is silent at the end of a word.
Examples: dette /det/, tenu /t@ nü/, aimer /em ay/

é is pronounced as a long a.
Examples: donné /dun nay/, écu /ay kY/

è is pronounced as a short e.
Examples: très /treh/, mère /mehr/

ei is pronounced as a short e like in "bed".
Examples: reine /ren/, Seine /sen/

eil is pronounced as a long a like in "late".
Examples: pareil /pa ray/, vieil /vyay/

eu and eux. are pronounced as a German ö or English er without the "r".
Examples: feu /fö/, leur /lör/

euil, euille, are pronounced as a palatalized German ö but are well approximated by an
ueil, and ueille. English oy.
Examples: fauteuil /fo toy/, accueil /ak koy/

i is pronounced between a short i and a long e.
Examples: mille /meel/, vie /vee/

o and ô are pronounced between an short u and a long o.
Examples: comment /kum mã/, hôte /oht/

oi and oix are pronounced as wah.
Examples: oie /wah/, soit /swah/

ou, où, are pronounced between as a long u or oo.
and oux. Examples: sou /soo/, roux /roo/

u is pronounced as a German ü, like an English long e said with pursed lips.
Examples: du /dü/, aperçu /a payr sü/

ui is pronounced as a diphthong between German ü and English long e, but may be approximated by we.
Examples: lui /lüi/, huit /üeet/

Nasal Vowels
Nasal vowels are distinguished by being followed by a single n or m which is not followed by another vowel. There are four nasal vowel sounds in French, and a nasal diphthong. (Because of limitations of the character set, there is no way to put the tildes on i or u.)
These sounds are written as follows:
/ahN/ an, am, en, em.

/ehN/ in, im, ain, aim, ein, eim.

/ohN/ on, om.

/uhN/ un, um.

/wehN/ oin, oim

Pronouncing nasal vowels can be a little tricky for Americans since they don't really have any analogous sounds in any English words. However, we do occasionally use nasal vowel sounds. Most commonly, this can be seen in the colloquially response to something not understood. Obviously, these sounds are best modelled by a native speaker.