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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

How to Learn tJie Basic Word List     257
in heard., e g Europe OU is like the OO of loot> e g doux (sweet)
OI sounds like wa, e g soir
Unless the following word begins with a vowel, final consonants,
chiefly T, D, S, X, Z, and less often C, F, L, are usually silent, e g
sonnet, md (nest), vers^yeux (eyes), nez (nose), trop (too much),
estomac (stomach), clef (key), fusil (rifle) Americans and English are
familiar with many borrowed French words in which the final
consonants are not pronounced, e g ballet^ gourmand* chamois^
pince-nez These silent finals, which preserve continuity with the
past of the language, become vocal under certain conditions When
a word ending in a mute consonant precedes one with an initial
vowel, French safeguards smoothness of speech by bringing the
dead letter back to life It becomes the beginning of the following
word Thus on en a pour son argent (it is worth the money) is pro-
rf--N   /-N                           /S
nounced on en a pour son argent For this so-called liaison there is no
hard-and-fast rule Common people use it more sparingly than
those who affect culture It is customary between article and noun,
/-N
e g les enfants (the children), pointer word or possessive adjective
^-x
and noun, e g   nos amis (our friends), numeral and noun, e g
trois autos (three motor cars), pronoun and verb, e g its amvent
(they arrive) The French have other means of avoiding a clash of
two vowels One is liquidation of the first vowe!3 e g Voiseau for
le oiseau (the bird), the other is separation of the two vowels by a
Latin-derived r, e g a-t-iP (Latin habet-itte? = has he^) Unlike
French, Spanish is not averse to vowel collision, cf la obscundad
and Pobscunte (darkness)
French is a highly nasal language At an early stage of its evolution
the nasal consonants M and N became silent, or almost so, imparting a
nasal twang to the preceding vowel When English-speaking people
first try to pronounce a nasal vowel like the one in the French word
son (sound) they usually say song To make sure that you actually
nasalize the O instead of producing an ordinary O followed by a nasal
consonant, take the advice of an English phonetician and make the
following experiment:
"Pinch the nose tightly so that no air can escape, and then say the
sound If the nasalized vowel is being said, then it can be prolonged
indefinitely, but if ng is being pronounced, then the sound will come
to an abrupt ending "
Modern French has four different nasal vowels which in script are
represented by a great variety of vowel-consonant combinations
(i) Nasalized A (a), written AN, EN, AM, EM, eg   dans (in),
rnensonge (lie), ambition, mernbre
I