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256               The Loom of Language
homophones o (or), at (to the), a (to), anno (year). Conversely, the
symbol R which is often a dead letter in Anglo-American words is
always audible in words of Romance languages The Spanish and
Italian R is an R rolled on the tip of the tongue The more fashionable
Parisian vanant of the French R is less forable and somewhat throaty
Italian and Spanish have stuck to the very thrifty battery of Latin
vowels The simple vowel symbols A, E, 1,0, U, are roughly equivalent
to ah, eh> or e i&yes, ee, oh, oo in too Romance vowels are pure vowels
Unlike long English vowels they have no tendency towards diph-
thongization. To get the correct value it is necessary to keep hps and
tongue fixed during articulation If you do, you will pronounce the
Italian 0 of dove (where) correctly like the AW of law Otherwise it
will sound like the 0 of alone and be wrong When in Italian or
Spanish two vowels come together, and one of them is p or uy the
other vowel (a5 e, 6} takes the stress, and i or u are quickly passed
over The vowel equipment of Portuguese (see p 345) and of French
has travelled far from the Latin homestead*
No single French vowel exactly corresponds to any English one. All
we can attempt to do is to give approximate equivalents which a French-
man could recognize as such.
Before a double consonant a is usually as in man, e g patte (paw)
Before a single consonant it is often long as in far The circumflex
(x) written above a vowel lengthens it, and is a sign that at one time
the vowel was followed by S + consonant, e g chateau (castle)
Without an accent E may be short and open like the E of let* e.g. sel
(salt), or is faintly audible like the first E in veneer', e g lecon, A
final. E without an accenta e g barbe (beard), is always silent in daily
speech, like the e in our word made, fi is pronounced like the E in
net, but is longer, e.g pecker (to sin). Final -ER and -EZ in verb forms
have the sound value of fi, e g, chasser (to chase^oyaar (pay') E sounds
like the ai in affair, e.g mere (mother) E has roughly the same
open sound of ea in treacherous, but is longer, e g p&her (to fish)
O is generally short as in long, e g lot (lot) 6 sounds like 0 in opal,
e g oter (remove) The sound represented by U has no equivalent in
English If you speak Scots5 pronounce it hike the U ofgmd, if you
know German, like the 1J of uber. Otherwise, pout your lips as if
you were to pronounce the U of pool, but without uttering any
sound. Then, with the lips in the same position as before, try to
pronounce the E of flea, and you may obtain the sound of French U
in lune (moon), or pumr (punish).
AI may either be pronounced like E, as HI vrai (true), or like , as in
je chanterai (I shall sing) AU and EAU sound like OU in ought,
e g cause, beau (beautiful) EU resembles the pronunciation of EA