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J. W. JACK M.A. 

1^1 Xt^. 


First published July ig22 

by George G. Harrap 6r» Co., Ltd. 

2 &*$ Portsmouth Street, Kingsway, London, W.C.2 


A II rights reserved 


THIS book is intended for pupils and students who 
wish to acquire the normal or proper pronunciation 
of French. Being an elementary work on scientific 
lines, it offers a simple and reliable means of overcoming the 
difficulties which the subject undoubtedly presents to English- 
speaking people. It is a well-known fact that many pupils 
who have an excellent knowledge of French grammar and 
syntax, and have even passed the higher examinations, are 
unable to pronounce French with any degree of success, 
although the main purpose of learning a modern language 
should be to speak it, and in such a way that the sounds may 
be regarded as proper by a native. By a study of these 
pages, a pupil can in due course reach as good results in 
the way of pronunciation and accent as can be obtained by 
a lengthy residence in France. 

The pronunciation of French, like that of all other languages, 
has no fixed or stereotyped form. It is exposed to the 
caprices of fashion and taste, and varies in different districts 
of France. The ' correct ' pronunciation is like the romantic 
fairy, which vanished in smoke when one approached too 
near. All competent judges, however, recognize that there 
is a standard or normal French, viz. that of good Parisian 
society or the educated classes in and around Paris and in 
Northern France. This standard is for practical purposes 
fairly uniform, and educated speakers nearly everywhere 
tend to conform to it. It is this pronunciation, without 
pedantry or vulgarity, that is described in these pages, 
although it may not always be that given by certain dic- 
tionaries. Even in the case of this standard, however, one 



must not insist on dogmas ; for there are no two educated 
persons in Paris who would be likely to agree in the pro- 
nunciation of all French words. Many divergencies exist, 
both in isolated words and in groups of words. In some 
cases two, even three or four, forms of pronunciation of a 
certain word must be admitted as equally good. But these 
divergencies do not involve any fundamental difference in 
the normal French referred to, and are noticed only by those 
who care to watch for them. 

The book is essentially a practical one. While it gives 
the results of careful study made by distinguished French 
orthoepists, it does not venture on any theoretical discussion 
or scientific explanation of facts. The author has intention- 
ally avoided all such subjects, which would only lead to 
complication or confusion. As no exposition of pronuncia- 
tion, however, can be sufficient without oral practice, he has 
added suitable exercises and lists of words wherever necessary. 
The use of the phonetic system of the Association Phonetique 
Internationale, now recognized by the highest educational 
authorities, including the English Board of Education, the 
Scottish Education Department, and practically all collegiate 
bodies both in Britain and the United States, will be found 
of immense service. The science of phonetics, which has to 
do with speech-sown^s, not only underlies all language, but 
is a labour-saving device to the student, turning the com- 
plicated difficulties of pronunciation into a simple system, 
and enabling him to accomplish in a few weeks what would 
otherwise require years. The written language gives only 
a very imperfect and deceptive idea of the sounds, and the use 
of reliable phonetics to the language-student is thus indis- 
pensable, being a valuable aid in training both voice and ear. 

The student should make a persevering practice of the 
French sounds described in these pages. This is the secret 
of proper pronunciation. To acquire only a knowledge of 
the sounds is insufficient : they must be practised until their 
correct use is second nature. 


The author would take this occasion to record his indebted- 
ness to the numerous masters of French diction from whose 
works and teaching he has received suggestions and stimulus, 
and particularly to Professor Paul Passy, Professor Maurice 
Grammont, Professor Kr. Nyrop, Dr Ph. Martinon, L'Abbe 
Rousselot, and other modern authorities, to say nothing of 
Urbain Domergue, Mme Dupuis, Ch. Thurot, M. A. Lesaint, 
and a galaxy of older writers. The Bibliography appended 
may be of use to students who desire to extend their know- 
ledge of French pronunciation. 

Thanks are also due to Professor E. C. Hills, of the Uni- 
versity of California, Professor Lander Macclintock, of Indiana 
University, and Mr Alexander Green, for valuable suggestions 
made on proof. 

J. w. J. 



Introductory: The Phonetic System . . ii 


I. The Fundamental Vowels . . . . i8 

II. Close 7 [i] 26 

III. Close E [e] 28 

IV. Open E [e] . . . . . . . 30 

V. Unstressed £....... 34 

VI. Close A [a] 38 

VII. Open ^ [a] . . . . . . . 42 

VIII. Unstressed ^ ....... 47 

IX. Close O [o] 49 

X. Open O [o] 52 

XI. Unstressed ....... 55 

XII. Close [u] 57 

XIII. The Mixed Vowels : The Vowel [y] . . 59 

XIV. The Vowel [0] . . . . . . . 62 

XV. The Vowel [oe] 64 

XVI. E Mute, or E Caduc . .... 66 

XVII. The Semi-consonants : The Semi-consonant [w] 69 
XVIII. The Semi-consonant [j] . . . . .71 

XIX. The Semi-consonant [q] . . . . .74 

XX. The Nasal Vowels ...... 76 

XXI. Duration of Sounds, or Quantity ... 89 




XXII. Introductory . 

XXIII. The Lateral Consonant L 

XXIV. The Trills, [r] and [r] 
XXV. The Fricatives . 

XXVI. The Nasal Consonants 
XXVII. The Explosives 
XXVIII. The Letter H . 
XXIX. The Numerals . 
XXX. Double Consonants . 




XXXI. Elision I49 

XXXII. The Tonic or Rhythmic Accent . . .163 

XXXIII. Liaison or Linking . . . . . .172 

XXXIV. Emphatic or Supplementary Accent . . 184 
XXXV. Assimilation . . . . . . .192 

XXXVI. Intonation 198 

XXXVII. Interrogations ...... 205 

XXXVIII. Exclamations 209 

XXXIX. Expression 212 

XL. Rhythm and Eurhythmy . . . . .215 

Index of Word-endings . . . . .223 

Index of Principal Words Cited . . . 228 
Index of Subjects ...... 234 

Bibliography ....... 240 



1. The value of a phonetic system in the study of French 
pronunciation is evident from the fact that the ordinary 
^pelUng does not represent the actual sounds of the language. 
No doubt, on the whole, French orthography is more con- 
sistent in this respect than English, but it is by no means 
adequate. There are only six characters {a, e, i, o, u, y) for 
representing the vowels, but there are at least sixteen distinct 
vowel-sounds in French ; and in the case of consonantal 
characters, many of these are now extinct in pronunciation 
or quite unstable. The word temps, for example, is written 
with five letters, but in the actual spoken language it is 
composed of only two sounds, t and nasal a [ta]. The only 
letter in common is the t, for the spoken word contains neither 
e nor m nor p nor s. Similarly the words eaux, oies, though 
containing four letters each, are represented in speech by 
the single sounds [o] [wa], which have nothing in common 
with any of them. Many words too are spelt differently 
but pronounced the same (e.g. sain, saint, sein, seing, ceins, 
ceint, cinq) ; while others are spelt the same but pronounced 
differently (e.g. Les fils ont casse les fils ; iu as /'as de 
trefle ; les lacs sont pres des lacs). 

2. All this confusion in the conventional method of spelling 
French leads to difficulties in acquiring the pronunciation, 
and hence we make use of a phonetic system as a guide to 
the learner. The system is based on the principle of one 
symbol, and only one, for each sound. Since every 
sound in the language can be defined, it is evident that 
we have only to allot a distinctive symbol to each one, 
and we immediately possess an exact alphabet, more exact 
indeed than the notation employed to represent musical 
sounds. In this way we obtain a rational system of repre- 
senting the spoken sounds, thus making them infinitely 




easier to learn. In such a system, tan, tant, taon, tends, 
tend, temps, being all pronounced the same, are indicated by 
the same transcript [ta], while the various sound elements 
of the language are all simply and accurately represented, 
and the old difficulties of French pronunciation are largely 

3. The alphabet used is that of the International Phonetic 
Association, which is now the most widely used and highly 
perfected of all Roman alphabets for indicating pronunciation. 
It consists, for the purposes of the French language, of eighteen 
consonants, three semi-consonants, and sixteen vowels. 
Wherever possible, the same signs are used as in ordinary 
spelling, and have practically the same value. This is the 
case with the consonantal signs p, b, t, d, k, g, m, n, I, r, 
f, V, s, z, and the aspirate h. But the following table 
should be noted, containing three new consonantal signs, 
and the three semi-consonants. These will be explained 
later on. 




How pronounced 



chose, chaque, 

Like English sh {e.g. in shot). 



jour, je, page 

Like s in pleasure, z in 



ligne, regner, 

Like ng in English sing, but 


with point of tongue kept 
down behind lower teeth, 
and rest of tongue raised 
swiftly against hard 


y, i> 11 

payer, bien, briller 

Like English y in yet, yes. 


ou, oi, 

oui, fouet, moi, 

Like English w in win, 






lui, cuit, nuage 

This is the compound vowel 
[y ] (see table on p . 1 5) , but 
sound so shortened as to 
make one syllable with 
the vowel immediately 




On the principle of one symbol for each sound, it will 
be understood that such symbols, as [k, g, s, z] are used 
for various consonants or combinations in the ordinary 
spelling. Thus : 

[k] is used for ' hard ' c (i.e. c before a, 0, u, or another 
consonant) ; for qu in such words as quatre, qualiU ; for 
ch in such words as choeur, orchesire ; etc. 

[g] is used for ' hard ' g (i.e. g before a, 0, u, or another 
consonant) ; for gu in such words as guerre, langue, 
Guillaume ; for c in second ; etc. 

[s] is used for ' soft ' c (as in ici, lacet) ; for g (as in garfon, 
franfais) ; etc. 

[z] is used for s between two vowels (as in maison, causer) ; 
for X in Haison (as in deux hpmmes) ; etc. 

In such a way, by restricting the existing signs to one 
sound each, and introducing a few new signs into the con- 
ventional alphabet, it will be seen that the method of re- 
presenting sounds is considerably simplified, and the study 
of pronunciation facilitated. 

4. The following table contains the phonetic signs repre- 
senting the sixteen normal vowel-sounds of French. Of 
these vowels eight are Fundamental, one {e mute) is 
Indeterminate, three are Mixed, and four are Nasal. 
All these sounds, like the consonantal ones, will be explained 
in the following chapters, but the pupil is urged to acquaint 
himself with them now as far as that may be possible, so as 
to be able from the outset to read phonetic transcripts. The 
column containing the ordinary spelling is not exhaustive, 
but it will give some idea of the variety of method adopted in 
current orthography to represent each sound. 

The sign i after a vowel indicates that the sound is long. 
Thus : [riiv], rive, [p£ir], pere. Sometimes it maj^ be necessary 
in strict pronunciation to indicate half-length, in which case 
one dot is used, as [vi'va], vivant. 

Attention is called to the lip-rounding required in 
some of the sounds, as indicated in the fourth column. 
This is a distinctive characteristic of French, the lips being 
much more used than in English, and it should be diligently 


Fundamental Vowels 




How pronounced 


i, y 

Long : rive, pire, 

green (long), react (short). 

tige, bise 

Not like i in bit, live, etc. 

Short : vif, si, 



6, e, ai, oe 

Short: 6t6, les. 

Scotch or Northern English 

gai, oesophage' 

a in take, case, etc. 
American a in the first 
syllable of aerial, aorta, 


6, e, e, ai, 

Long : pdre, tdte, 
mer, faire, faite, 

dairy (long), deaf {short). 

ai, ay, ei, 


neige, Beyle 
Short : d^, pret, 
net, laid, plait, 
rayon, peine, 


a, k, a, e, 

Long: page, part, 

path (long), pat (short). 


boire, cloitre 

Scotch or Northern Eng- 

Short : madame, 

lish sound of these words. 

1^, donndmes, 

Also American sound of 

femme, soif, 




a, a, oi, 01 

Long : gaz, dge, 

father (long). The short 


croire, croitre. 

form is found in Southern 

Short : pas, bat. 

English diphthongs, as my 
[mai], and also in Scotch, 

trois, croit 

Northern English, and 
American sounds. 

0, 6, au, u 

Long : port, loge, 
toge, Maure 

shawl, tortoise (long) ; block. 

waddle (short). English 

Short : note. 

and Scotch sound of these 

hopital, Paul, 

words. Also American 


sound in door (long). 

obey (short). 


o, 6, au. 

Long : chose. 

Scotch or Northern English 


trone, cause. 

in home (long), poetic 


(short). Southern Eng- 

Short : mot, deipot, 

lish in domain. Ameri- 

haut, beau 

can in overawe, quarto. 


ou, ou, ou 

Long : rouge. 

rude (long), July (short). 

jour, douze 

English and Scotch sound 

Short : nous, vous. 

of these words. In Am- 

ou, gouter 

erica the sound is found 
short in whoever, rupee. 

Indeterminate Vowel 





How pronounced 


e, ai, on 

le, premier, fai- 
sant, monsieur 

Like e in over, taken ; or a 
in about, again. 

Mixed Vowe 





How pronounced 


u, eu 

Long : sur, ruse, 

Lips as for [u] {i.e. well 


rounded and pushed out. 

Short : plus, une. 

as in whistling), but 

eu, eus 

sound the phonetic 
vowel [i]. 

eu, eu, 

Long : creuse. 

Lips as for [0] {i.e. rounded 


feutre, jeune 

and pushed out), but 

Short : deux, peu. 

sound the phonetic vowel 

voeu, jeuner 



eu, oe, oeu. 

Long : fleur, ceil, 

Lips as for [0] {i.e. slightly 


oeuvre, cueille 

rounded and pushed out). 

Short : jeune, 

but sound the phonetic 

oeillet, oeuvrer. 

vowel [e]. When long, the 


sound approximates to 
the Southern English one 
in bird, turn, heard ; and 
when short, to that in 
love, glove, hurry. 

For Nasal Vowels see next page. 

5. French pronunciation, while based on the above sounds, 
depends to some extent upon the division of words into 
syUables. This division takes place according to the following 
general rule : Finish with a vowel, and commence with 
a consonant. Two consonants are divided, but if the 
second be r or 1, both belong to the next syllable. Thus, 
venir [v9-niir], cadeau [ka-do], sergent [ssr-3a], tableau [ta-blo], 
nomhreux [no-br0], agneau [a-po]. In the case of two con- 
secutive words, the same principle of division exists. Thus, 

Nasal Vowels 




How pronounced 


an, am, 

Long : tante, 

Nasalized [a], i.e. with the 

en, em, 

jambe, lente, 

soft palate hanging loose, 



so as to allow some of 

Short : blanc. 

the sound into nose. 

champ, cent, 

temps, taon, 



on, om, 

Long : tondre, 

Nasalized [o], but with a 

un, um 

nombre, punch 
Short : bon, nom, 

little more lip-rounding. 


in, im, yn, 

Long : Inde, 

Nasalized [ae] ([ae] is South- 

ym, ain, 

simple, lynx. 

ern English a in such 

aim, ein. 


words as mad, rat, etc.). 


vaincre, feinte, 


Reims, pointe 


Short : fin, impur, 
syntaxe, thym, 
main, faim, 
plein, bien, loin 


un, um, 

Low^ .-j'emprunte, 

Nasalized [ae], with lips a 


Short : un, par- 
fum, k jeun 

little rounded. 

les enfants [le-zofS], une heure [y-noeir], while les aunes and 
les zones are both [le-zoin]. 

Syllables may be either open or closed. A syllable is 
said to be open when it is terminated in pronunciation by a 
vowel. Such words as raison [re-zo], bonte [bo-te], vivacite 
[vi-va-si-te], are therefore composed exclusively of open 
syllables. A syllable is said to be closed when it is terminated 
in pronunciation by a consonant, as in the words actif [ak-tif], 
ternir [tsr-niir], percepteur [psr-SEp-toeir], where all the syllables 
are of this nature. Open syllables are the more usual in 
French, the tendency being to end a syllable on a vowel, as 
forming the more audible sound. English, on the other 
hand, has a preference for closed syllables. 


6. We give here a specimen of French in phonetic character, 
followed by the same in common spelling. Although all 
the sounds remain to be fully explained, the student should 
endeavour meantime to understand them as far as he can, 
and if possible to read the specimen with some degree of 
accuracy, however small. 

Phonetic Spelling 

aprez avwar kree I9 sjel e la t£ir, dj0 a done la vi oz animo 
e o plait ; pur le distege lez de dez oitr, il a vuly loer done de 
no. oisi il loer a di d9 vniir de serte 3uir, a loer rakomadd 
syrtu d9 n pa lublie. tuis 5 promi. 

o 3ur di, le plait 5 defile dva Iqi, e elz 3 tut rasy ce no. 
o dernje moma, kd tulmoid ete parti, ariiv a kura yn p9tit 
plait do le petal ete d la kuloeir dy sjel. 3t0iz d9 sa foit, e1 
S9 tne dvd so kreatoeir sdz oze Iqi dmdde koma si sapslre 
dezorme, me dj0 s pdjd syr el kp a di dusmd, " n9 mubli 
pa." la p9tit floeir e parti d kurd, e lorsk9 se kopap Iqi 3 
dmdde so no, el loer a repody trist9md, " n9 mubli pa." 

Common Spelling 

Apr^s avoir cree le ciel et la terre, Dieu a donne la vie 
aux animaux et aux plantes ; pour les distinguer les uns 
des autres, il a voulu leur donner des noms. Aussi il leur 
a dit de venir un certain jour, en leur recommandant surtout 
de ne pas I'DubHer. Tous ont promis. 

Au jour dit, les plantes ont defile devant lui, et elles ont 
toutes regu un nom. Au dernier moment, quand tout le 
monde etait parti, arrive en courant une petite plante 
dent les petales etaient de la couleur du ciel. Honteuse 
de sa faute, elle se tenait devant son createur sans oser 
lui demander comment elle s'appellerait desormais, mais 
Dieu se penchant sur elle lui a dit doucement, " Ne m'oublie 
pas." La petite fleur est partie en courant, et lorsque 
ses compagnes lui ont demande son nom, elle leur a r6pondu 
tristement, " Ne m'oublie pas." 




7. Vowels and Consonants. — It is very important to 
understand the essential difference between vowels and con- 
sonants. The student must not be led astray by the old 
definition, which represents vowels as sounds which can be 
uttered alone, and consonants as those which can only be pro- 
duced in combination with vowels. The incorrectness of this 
definition is evident, for there is nothing to prevent some 
consonants {e.g. [s, /, f, v, 3], etc.) being uttered alone without 
a vowel either before or after them. Unfortunately this 
misleading definition is still widespread, and appears in the 
word ' consonant,' i.e. ' sounding along with.* 

A vowel [a, e, o, etc.] is the sound (proceeding from the 
vocal chords) modified by the resonance chamber of the mouth, 
there being at the same time a free passage for the breath. 
On the other hand, a consonant [s, p, k, etc.] is a sound 
caused by friction or stoppage of the breath somewhere in the 
mouth. That is to say, in the former case the vibrating 
breath is modified in the mouth, but not checked ; in the 
latter case the breath is checked in various ways before it 
leaves the opening of the mouth. 

While the diiference between vowels and consonants is 
thus distinct, there are some sounds which really belong to 
both categories. In [m, n, 1, r], for example, while there is 
a free passage of air, there is more or less a stoppage of the 
breath (in [m] by closing the lips ; in [n] by raising the point 
of the tongue ; and so on) ; but as the stoppage is the pre- 
dominating quality, they are classified with the consonants, 
making eighteen altogether. In the case of [w, j, q], there 
is both a vowel and a distinct friction of the breath caused 




by a narrowing of the passage, and hence they are classified 
as semi-consonants (§ 3). 

8. The Fundamental French Vowels. — Reserving the 
consonants till afterwards, we now proceed to consider the 
vowels, beginning with the fundamental ones. These, as 
already stated, are eight in number : [i, e, e, a, a, 0, o, u]. 
We give a general description of them in this chapter, followed 
by a detailed consideration of each one in the immediately 
ensuing chapters. In order to describe them clearly and 
accurately, we print in each case a front view of the lips 
and a side view of the mouth, along with French words in 
phonetic notation containing the sounds. The student 
should set himself to acquire correctly the distinctive pro- 
nunciation of each of these fundamental vowels. Each 
one should be dwelt on decisively, to make sure that the 
true sound has been caught, and it must be repeated till 
familiarity is acquired. 

English green (long) , react (short) 

Phonetic : [di, li, si, sim, mil, fis, midi, kritik, mirifik, 
riiv, tii3, liir, biiz, 3it, fiij, biij, filip]. 

Same in ordinary spelling : dit, lit, si, cime, mille, fisse, 
midi, critique, mirifique, rive, tige, lire, bise, gite, fille, 
bille, Philippe. 

Scotch or Northern English a in take 

Phonetic : [de, Je, 36, pre, kle, ete, prefere, repete, desede, 
egliiz, Use, felisite, efemine, grije, milje]. 

Ordinary: des, chez, j'ai, pre, clef, et6, pref6r6, repete, 
dec^d6, eglise, lycee, felicite, effemine, griller, miUier. 


English dairy (long), deaf (short) 

Phonetic: [set, Jef, rsspe, etsrnsl, meir, bei/, tsit, teir, 
tel, bek, net, perpleks, fidel, tristes, regie, pest]. 

Ordinary : cette, chef, respect, eternel, mer, beche, tete, 
terre, tel, bee, net, perplexe, fiddle, tristesse, regie, peste. 


Path (long), pat (short), Scotch or Northern English 
sound of these words 

Phonetic : [sal, bat, nap, madam, kanal, kamarad, malad, 
pai3, kaiv, ami, ale, imai3, asje, laskair, aspe]. 

Ordinary : salle, batte, nappe, madame, canal, camarade, 
malade, page, cave, ami, allee, image, assied, lascar, aspect. 



English father (long) ; no English case of short, 
except in diphthongs 

Phonetic: [pa, ka, 3ain, faiz, gaiz, baiz, aipr, gate, 
dega, gate, klima, ama, 3adis, pulaje, espais, maren]. 

Ordinary : pas, cas, Jeanne, phase, gaz, base, apre, 
gater, degat, gateau, climat, amas, jadis, poulailler, espace, 




English shawl (long), block (short) 

Phonetic : [od, rob, rof, fDrin, bi5, foir, moir, oktobr, 
etof, epok, parte, modest, poeim, oval, kuron, omon]. 

Ordinary : ode, robe, roche, forme, loge, fort, mort, 
octobre, etoffe, epoque, porte, modeste, poeme, oval, 
couronne, aumone. 

Scotch or Northern English o in home (long), 
poetic (short) 

Phonetic : [do, mo, to, foljo, /oiz, roiz, doim, trom, eko, 
zero, nivo, sito, kuto, trsno, bsstjo, Japo, alto]. 

Ordinary : dos, mot, tot, folio, chose, rose, dome, trone, 
echo, zero, niveau, sitot, couteau, traineau, bestiaux, 
chapeau, alto. 


English rule (long), good (short) 

Phonetic : [ru, mu, su, rut, tut, pul, rukul, kurt, mus, 
buk, sup, rui3, kuir, duiz, rutin, dute, tupE, rulad.] 

Ordinary : roue, mou, sou, route, toute, poule, roucoule, 
courte, mousse, bouc, soupe, rouge, cour, douze, routine, 
douter, toupet, roulade. 

9. Note that these vowels have been arranged according to 
the position of the tongue, mouth, and lips. 


(i) The Tongue. — For [i] it will be noticed that the tongue 
is raised very high in front. It is lower for [e], lower still for 
[s], and lowest of all for [a] and [a], where it approaches the 
flat position as much as possible. It now begins to rise 
again for the remaining vowels (this time at the hack), being 
higher for [o], higher still for [o], and highest of all for [u]. 
In pronouncing the eight vowels in the order mentioned, one 
can easily verify these tongue-movements, especially with 
the help of the finger or a pencil. 

The vowels [i, e, e] are consequently called front vowels, 
and [d, o, u] back vowels. 

(2) The Mouth. — For [i], it will be observed, the mouth is 
somewhat close. It opens more for [e], more still for [e], 
and most of all for [a] and [a]. It then begins to close again, 
a little for [o], more still for [o], and most for [u]. The open- 
ing or closing depends on the movement of the lower jaw, 
and may easily be noticed with a mirror. 

Hence we distinguish two classes of vowels, close and open. 
It is evident that in general those at the top and bottom of the 
series are close, while those about the middle are open ; but 
looked at from another point of view, the vowels maybe arranged 
in pairs. Thus [e] is close e, while [e] is open e ; [o] is close 0, 
while [o] is open ; [a] is close a, and [a] (which has the 
mouth widest of all) is open a. The vowels i and u are only 
found close in French, as a rule, but the open sounds of these 
occur frequently in English (e.g. i in hit, hinge ; u in pull, full). 
This distinction between close and open is an essential 
one in French, and should be clearly understood. To give, for 
example, a close e for an open one (in such words as pere, tele, 
etc.) is common with beginners, especially in districts where 
close vowels predominate, but is incorrect. 

(3) The Lips. — The shape of the lips in the series is very 
important. For the front vowels, it will be noticed, the lips 
are somewhat fiat, their ends being drawn back, while for 
the back vowels the lips are distinctly rounded and pushed 
out — a little for [o], more still for [o], and most for [u]. 
For the front vowels in this series there must on no account 
be any rounding and projection of the lips, as this would 
produce vowels of a different kind, namely compound ones 
(§ 58), but in the case of the back vowels this particular quality 
is absolutely necessary. As it is less frequently found in 
English, the student should practise it well. Special oppor- 


tunities will be given for this later on, when we come to treat 
individucdly of the back vowels. 

10. For the reasons just enumerated, the French vowels 
may be disposed in the form of a triangle, which shows more 
clearly the relative positions of the tongue : 

Front Vowels^ " I/^^^^-^^^arA: Vouds 


'(a) (Close,) 
(Open) CS. hu)iOpe.n) 

(Close) e\. ko)(Closz) 


The curved line represents the roof of the mouth. The centre 
at the bottom (at [a]) represents a neutral position, where the 
tongue is lowest and the mouth widest. Beginning from [a] 
and going up to the left indicates a gradual rising of the tongue 
more and more towards the front (the hard palate), with a 
corresponding closing of the mouth, while going up to the 
right means a gradual rising of the tongue more and more 
towards the back (the soft palate), with a corresponding 
closing of the mouth by rounding and projecting the lips. 
This last characteristic is indicated by curved brackets ( ). 

11. Tenseness. — ^The nature of all vowels is considerably 
affected by the condition of the tongue muscles. If these 
muscles are braced up and held firmly in position, the vowel 
is said to be tense. If they are loose and relaxed, the vowel 
is called slack.^ A tense vowel has a clear, firm sound, and 
a slack one a dull, weak sound. It is possible to pronounce 
all vowels either way.^ In French, however, practically all 
the vowels are tense, in the sense that they are pronounced 
clearly and with a distinct muscular tension. This is par- 

^ The terms narrow and wide are used by some phoneticians instead. 
* In accurate phonetic script the grave accent is used to denote 
slackness. Thus [h] is slack [e]. 


ticularly so with the close vowels, the closeness being partly- 
due to the tension. In this respect the French vowels differ 
from many of the English vowels, especially the short ones, 
which are produced generally with the tongue relaxed. In 
French there are exceptions, and these will be referred to later 
on, but the student should understand that the funda- 
mental vowels in the preceding series are all pronounced tense, 
the close ones especially so, the open ones not so much. 

12. Uniformity. — Many vowels in English, especially long 
ones {e.g. in such words as case, note, day, etc.) are pronounced 
as if they were diphthongs — i.e. they become in reality a 
combination of two sounds in one syllable. This is not so 
common, e.g., in Scotland, where the vocal organs are held 
more tensely and do not glide during the emission of a vowel, 
but in England and America the diphthongal tendency is very 
prevalent. It cannot, however, be too strongly enforced that 
in French all vowels, whether long or short, are uniform 
throughout their utterance. There are no diphthongs in 
French, except in rapid conversation, and even then in quite 
exceptional cases. If two vowels are in contact, they are 
pronounced as two distinct syllables, e.g. poete [post], hahut 
[bay], plier [plie], or else one of them becomes a semi-con- 
sonant, e.g. souhaii [swe], rien [rje]. French vowels are 
practically all simple, uniform sounds, the organs of 
speech being kept quite still in their original position 
during the production of them. They must be pronounced 
exactly the same from beginning to end, without being allowed 
to glide into another sound. Unless the beginner is exceed- 
ingly careful, he will find himself at fault here. He will 
probably produce diphthongs * a Tanglaise ' without being 
aware of it. It is common, for instance, to hear a beginner 
pronouncing mere as [msia] or [mear], instead of [meir] with 
an unchanging vowel sound. 

13. Clearness. — ^The French language is distinguished from 
most others by the clearness or crispness of its vowels, which 
stand weU out from their surroundings. Only one vowel, 
the mute e, is vague and tends to disappear. AH the others, 
even though uttered lightly and briefly, must be given with 
definiteness and distinctness, more so than in English. The 
advice, " Look after the consonants ; the vowels will look 
after themselves," is ruinous in French, where every vowel- 


sound is clear and definite, and none is the least muffled 
or less audible than the others. French consonants may 
change and even disappear from pronunciation (as in many 
finals), but the vowels, whether long or short, stressed or un- 
stressed, preserve their distinctness. This is a rule to which 
the learner should pay special attention. No vowel should 
be slurred over, or lose its clear quality. A crisp enunciation 
of the vowels alone will make anyone's French remarkably 

14. Sufficient has been said in this chapter to show that 
the organic basis or general characteristic of French pro- 
nunciation is different in many ways from that of English. 
In French the vocal mechanism has its own peculiar action 
and tendency, producing in some cases results rarely, if ever, 
found in English. The lips, as we have seen, are very active, 
sometimes contracting and protruding quickly and energetic- 
ally. The vowels are generally tense, not lax as in English, 
and are clear uniform sounds, not diphthongs. It is evident 
that a true pronunciation of French cannot be acquired without 
persevering practice of these special movements. The vocal 
muscles require to be trained and developed on the French 
basis. This cannot be done in two or three weeks : it requires 
a long course of careful practice. It is here that one great 
advantage is found in the phonetic system, which acts as a 
valuable aid in such training, and makes up largely for the 
want of residence in France. 

CLOSE I [i] 

15. We now take each vowel separately and in detail, 
beginning with [i], at the top left corner of the triangle (§ lo), 
and ending with [u]. The French [i] (represented in ordinary 
spelHng by i, i, i, y) is close (§ 9 (2)), being identical with 
the English i in marine, police, clique, fatigue ; ee in eel, deep, 
seen ; ea in head, leak, leave. It may be long, as in the English 
words just quoted, or short, like e in helow, delay, return. 
Open i, on the other hand, is not the short of the close one, 
as some beginners imagine : it is quite a different sound, 
found in such English words as ill, dip, sin, hid, lick, live. 
It is formed with the mouth more open, and the tongue a 
little lower in front. The two sounds have little in common 
except the orthographic symbol. 

For the French [i], the tongue (see diagram, § 8) is pressed 
strongly against the lower incisive teetH, while the front part 
* bunches up ' and presses against the upper molars and the front 
part of the hard pcdate, leaving a very narrow passage at the top 
for the air current. On this account it is known in phonetic 
language as a ' high-front vowel.' The mouth is not much 
open, being flat, and the corners of the lips being drawn back. 
The muscles are held more or less tense (§ 11). 

The chief fault of the beginner lies in substituting the 
open sound for the close one. The former rarely if ever 
occurs in French, and besides being strange to a Frenchman, is 
often mistaken by him for the close [e] or the compound 
vowel [y]. Another fault is to forget the tenseness and pro- 
nounce the sound lax as it is in English. 

16. When [i] is in the last syllable of a stress group, 

i.e. when it receives the Tonic or Rhythmic Accent,^ it is 

1 In French, unlike English, all syllables are pronounced with almost 
equal emphasis, so much so that the language might be called 
'* monotonous," but at the same time a very slight stress falls upon 



always long if followed by [v, z, 3, j], or final [r]. In this 
respect it follows the seven-vowel rule [i, 8, a, o, u, y,oe] 
(§ 105 (4)). Thus, gencive [3asiiv], grise [griiz], vertige [ver- 
tii3], hille [biij], dire [diir]. Many people pronounce it long 
also in those words in -is (mostly classical) where the s is 
sounded, as Daphnis [daf niis] , gratis [gratiis] . In all other cases 
it is short, even though circumflexed, as lit, ami, hrique, myrte, 
asile, gUe, Ntmes, ftmes, fttes. An exception is abime [abiim]. 
When unstressed, it is generally short and pronounced 
with less muscular tension, frequently becoming half-open. 
Examples : ici, fini, pigeon, midi, Rivoli, mi-partie, it y va, 
diligence, etc. 



Je dis, tu dis, il dit, nous 
disons, vous dites, ils 

39 di, ty di, il di, nu dizo, vu 
dit, il di:z 

Cire, mise, corrige, livre, 

si:r, mi:z, kori:3, li:vr, agi:j 

Baucis, Paris, Davis, Osiris, 
bis, lis, iris, oasis, metis 

bosiis, pari:s, daviis, oziriis, bi:s, 
li:s, iri:s, oaziis, metiis 

Digne, guide, miche, lisse, 

diji, gid, mij, lis, libr 


Naif, hair, Jamaique, Moise, 

naif, ai:r, 3amaik, moi:z, sinai 


Dime, dine, ile, epitre 

dim, din, il, epitr 


Cycle, myrte, crypte, lyre, 
analyse, lycee, synonyme, 
thyrse, scythe 

sikl, mirt, kript, li:r, anali:z, 
Use, sinonim, tirs, sit 

11 lit le livre parmi les myrtes. 
La fille de Cyrille a six prix. 
11 vit I'eclipse d'ici en avril. 
Le guide dit que le tigre est assis. 
Voici les archives de la ville. 

il li l9 li:vr parmi le mirt. 
la fi:j da siril a si pri. 
il vi le klips disi an avril. 
l9 gid di k9 la tigr et asi. 
vwasi lez arjiiv da la vil. 

the last syllable of a word, or group of words, containing a single 
idea. This stress is termed the Tonic or Rhythmic Accent (accent 
d'intensite) , and the word or group of words is known as a stress- 
group. All syllables except the last one are said to be unstressed. 

CLOSE E [e] 

17. The vowel e in ordinary spelling frequently represents 
the so-called e mute, which is often not sounded, as pensera 
[pasara] or [pasra]. Apart, however, from this indeterminate 
form, the vowel e comprises at least two distinct classes — 
close, as in ete, and open, as in pere. 

18. Close [e] (represented in current spelling by e, e, ai, cb) 
is similar in pronunciation to the Northern English or Scotch 
a in such words as case, ache, bathe, take, etc., but pronounced 
short. In the south of England and other parts of the 
English-speaking world these words, besides being sounded 
open, are turned into a diphthong ([£]-f [i]), which is foreign 
to French, but the northern sound is close, monophthongal, 
and practically identical with the French one. 

19. Referring to the diagram in § 8, it will be seen that the 
tongue is a trifle lower than for [i], but its tip still presses 
against the lower incisive teeth and its front part against the 
upper molars. The mouth is a little more open, and the lips 
are not stretched so flatly. The muscles of the tongue and 
mouth are held tense, and it is here specially that English 
students are at fault. Not being accustomed to a tense [e], 
they allow the sound either to glide into a diphthong or to 
approach loosely to the open e (the sound in English dairy). 
The correct pronunciation of close [e] demands an effort of 
the vocal muscles if this fault is to be avoided. 

20. In correct French, close [e] occurs only in open 
syllables, and is nearly always pronounced short. It is only 
when special emphasis is laid upon the syllable containing it 
that it may become long, as in dejd I [dei3a], gaiete [geite], 
gueri ! [geiri]. 

21. It is generally found as follows in the ordinary spelling : 



' (i) As (? with the acute accent : Thus, ble [ble], dS [de,] bibi 

(2) As e followed by a final mute consonant other than / : 

Thus, clef [kle], assez [ase], porter [porte], pied [pje], 
vous parlez [vu parle], je m'assieds [39 masje]. Also in the 
conjunction et. 

In ordinary familiar speech, the monosyllables les, 
des, mes, ies, ces, ses conform to this rule, being pro- 
nounced close ; but in elevated or emphatic speech the 
open sound [e] predominates, and generally becomes 
long [ei] on the stage. 

(3) As ai in certain verbal terminations (futures and the past 

definites of first conjugation) : Thus, faurai [3ore], 
fallat [3ale], je parlai [parle], je niendrai [vjedre], j^ai 
[3e]. Also (in Paris, at least), in gai, gate, geai, je sais, 
tu sais, il sail ; and frequently in quai, pays, abbaye 
[pei, abeji], je fais, tu fais, il fait, je vais?- 

(4) As Greek oe : Thus, cecuminique [ekymenik], cedeme 

[edeim], cesophage [ezofai3]. 

(5) As final in -oe, as Crusoe [kryzoe], FSroe [feroe]. 

^ The tendency, however, in all these cases nowadays, except in j'ai, 
is to open the vowel. 



The, fee, aime, annee, fumee, 
seme, pre, donne, cliante, 
bonte, repete 

te, fe, sme, ane, fyme, same, pre, 
done, fate, bote, repete 


Duprez, chez, nez, vous 

avez, rez 
Berger, dernier, clocher, 

volontiers, rosier, parler, 

Roger, Alger, Tanger 
Assieds-toi, tu t'assieds, il 


dypre, Je, ne, vuz ave, re 

b£r3e, dernje, kloje, volotje, 
rozje, 'parle, ro3e, al3e, tase 

asje-twa, ty tasje, il sasje 


Je portai, je porterai, je 
jouai, je prendrai, je men- 
tirai, je serai 

39 porte, 39 portre, 39 3we, 39 
pradre, 39 matire, 39 sare 

Je donnai les clefs au bebe. 
11 a seme le ble dans le pre. 
J'ai assez de the pour les fees. 
Je chanterai chez vous en ete. 

39 done le kle bebe. 
il a same l9 ble da I9 pre. 
3e ase d9 te pur le fe. 
39 Jatre Je vu an ete. 

OPEN E [8] 

22. This is a vowel-sound heard both in the south of Britain 
and in America. It is found long in such words as there, pair, 
hear, fairy, dairy, and short in deaf, dead, said, tread, etc. It 
is the vowel of the sheep's bleat. For correct articulation the 
mouth requires to be more open than for close [e]. In other 
words, it is necessary to drop the lower jaw a little. The tip 
of the tongue no longer presses against the lower incisive 
teeth, but against their base, while the front part does not 
rise so high towards the palate. The tenseness is not so 
great, the tongue muscles being fairly relaxed, and no special 
effort being needed. 

23. In the enunciation of the long open e most EngUsh- 
speaking students are at fault. They generally pronounce 
it as a diphthong, allowing the sound to modify itself 
during its emission, so that in place of [teit] {tete) one hears 
something like [teit], or [tait]. For the correction of this 
fault it is only necessary to watch that the tongue remains 
exactly in the same position during the duration of the sound 
(§ 12). In some parts again, such as Scotland, there is really 
no long open e, and the vowel is turned into the close one, so 
that mere [meir], pere [psir] become [mer], [per]. This fault 
can be largely remedied by exercising less tension in the 
tongue muscles. 

24. Open e is represented in the ordinary French spelling 
by a great variety of symbols : e, e, e, ei, ai, at, aie, ay, aye, 
ey. In regard to length, it follows the seven-vowel rule 
(§ 105 (4)) — that is, when it is in the last syllable of a stress- 
group, it is always long if followed by [v, z, 3, j] or final [x]} 
In addition, it is generally long : 

^ When it is followed by ;', students should guard against the mistake 
of pronouncing it like e in the English word certain. It should rather 


(i) In the termination -es (mostly foreign words), where the s 
is sounded, as Pirides [perikkis] Ramses [ramseis], ftores 
[floreis], pataques [patakeis]. 

(2) In closed circumflexed syllables, as reve [rsiv], fete [feit], 

enchaine [qfem]. 

(3) In the terminations -aisse, -erne, -ene, and sometimes in -eine, 

-aine. Thus, haisse [beis], creme [kreim], scene [sem], reine 
[rem], gaine [gem]. 

When unstressed, it is usually short, whether circumflexed 
or not, as rester [rsste], faitage [fEtai3], aigreur [egroeir], frai- 
cheur [fre/oeir], le meme homme [b mem om]. When short, it 
is hardly so open as when long, unless followed by two 
(sounded) consonants. But these rules must be regarded as 
merely general, as open e has many variations, for which the 
student is referred to the chapter on Duration. 

25. As just stated, many symbols are used in ordinary spell- 
ing to represent the open e. The following always denote it : 

(i) The letters e, e, e (except as in § 21 (5)), and the groups 
ei, ai, as regie [regl], exces [ekse], pr ogres [progre], chene 
[Jem], Noel [noel], neige [nei3], maiire [meitr]. 

(2) The letter e : 

In closed syllables, as tel [tel], bref [bref], hec [bee]. 
Before a * double consonant,' as gemmer [3eme], ierreur 

In the terminations -et and -ect, as projet [pro3e], 

aspect [aspe], direct [direkt]. Also in il est [e], 

tu es [e]. 

(3) Close e falling in a closed syllable, as parli-je [parlei3], 
dussi-je [dyseij], aimai-je [emei3], dirai-je [direi3], ai-je 
[ei3], que sais-je [k9 sei3]. The change from the close to 
the open is due to the fact that the French have a dis- 
inclination to the close sound in a shut syllable. It is 
for the same reason that 6 in verbs becomes e when the 
syllable closes, as esp^rer, but fespere. 

(4) The group ai, except in the few cases where it is 

close (see preceding chapter), as vrai [vre], paix [pe], 
laide [led], je chantais [39 Jate]. 

be like the sound of e in herring. Thus fermer is [ferme], not [foerme]. 
Practice in this matter should be made with such words as exercer^ 
exercice, merer edi, conversation ^ per mis, persuader, universel, etc. 


(5) The groups ay, ey. Before a consonant or in a final 

syllable they are pronounced [e], as Raymond [remo], 
Leyde [led], Fontenay [fotne], bey [bs]. Before an audible 
vowel they become [ej],^ as rayon [rsjo], frayeur [frejoeir], 
seyant [seja]. Before e mute they are sounded [sij],^ as la 
paye [lapEij],z7 raye\}\xz\]\,ils grasseyeni\\\gr2isz\]]. But in 
La Haye and a few other proper names they are sounded 
[e] as [la e], etc. 

(6) The group aie, as haie [be], fuiaie [fyte], Us voudraieni 

[il vudre]. When, however, aie represents -aye (from 
verbs in -ayer), there is a tendency to pronounce it 
[ej] (or [eij] when final) in accordance with preceding 
rule, as il paie [il peij], Us essaieni [ilz eseij], higaiement 
[begejma]. Similarly, in the verbal form eie, still occasion- 
ally seen (from -eyer verbs), the sound [eij] is common, 
as fasseie [3aseij], Us asseient [ilz aseij]. 

26. When open e is final, many French speakers prefer to 
sound it close, as mais [me], jamais [3ame], succes [sykse], 
stijet [sy3e], etc. In the finals of conditionals, however, open c 
is maintained, to avoid confusion with futures in -at. 

* Except in bayadSre, mayonnaise, fayard, bayer aux corneilles, and 
some proper names such as Bayard, Bayeux, Bayonne, Cayenne, etc, 
and thsir derivatives, where a>' = [aj]. 

* Except in cipaye [sipa:j], cobaye [koba:j], Biscay e [biska:j], and 
one or two other proper names . 






Tr6ve, college, amere, fiddle 
Beche, fenetre, foret, etre, bete 
Israel, Joel, Laerte, Raphael 
Seigle, haleine, peine, beignet 
Faite, paitre, nait, parait 

treiv, kol£:3, ameir, fidel 
be:]", faneitr, fore, e:tr, be:t 
israel, 308l, laert, rafael 
segl, alen, psn, bejie 
feit, pEitr, ns, pare 


Sec, spectre, dette, bel, berge, 

serpe, ellipse, ferr6, message, 

Crochet, collet, bonnet, chevet, 

mets, regret, secret, respect, 

jet, cadet 

sek, spektr, det, bsl, ber3, 

SErp, slips, fere, m8sa:3, 

kroje, kole, bone, Jave, me, 

ragre, sakre, respe, 3e, 



Aimer, air, balai, palais, je serais 

eme, eir, bale, pale, J9 sare 


Donne-je, serai-je, repondrai-je 

done:3, sare:3, rep5dr8:3 


fipernay, Launay, balayer, be- 
gayer, il effraye, il 6taye, ils 

Volney, jockey, ils seyent, 
asseyez, trolley, Jersey, Bom- 
bay, Bellay 

eperne, lone, baleje, begeje, 
il efreij, il eteij, il begeij 

volns, 3oke, il sejj, aseje, 
trole, 3erz8, bobe, bele 


Claie, haie, laie, plaie, craie, taie, 
ils auraient, ils mangeaient 

kle, e, le, pie, kre, te, ilz ore, 
il ma38 

Elle aime son pere, sa m^re, et ses 

Elle parait etre une belle reine. 
Quel est le libraire de Geneve ? 
Faites finir le bonnet et le gilet. 
Le merle chantait hier dans la foret. 

el e:m s5 pe:r, sa me:r, e se 

el paret e:tr yn bel rem. 
kel E la libreir da 3an8:v ? 
fet fini:r la bone e la 3ile. 
la merl JatE je:r da la fore. 


27. Normally, the vowel e, when unstressed, maintains its 
close or open sound as the case may be, although the close 
sound is pronounced with rather less tension. This is 
specially the case in many isolated and independent words. 
Thus, it is close in egal, geant, fletrir, desir, Staler, defense, etc. ; 
and open in personne, merci, seigneur, domestique, Neptune, 
etc. The same is true of derived words, which follow the stem 
in cases where they are not subject to any modifying influence. 
Thus, the vowel is close in gueable (from gue), gaiete or gaUe 
(from gai), feerique (from fee) ; and open in fratcheur (from 

frais), aigreur (from aigre), faitage {hov[ifaite).'\ 

28. But very often close e or open e in unstressed syllables is 
replaced by a sound intermediate between the two. For 
instance, in reveler, only the final e is really close, and in pieton, 
messieurs, etc., the e is not quite close either. Similarly, many 
vowels that one might expect to be open become half -close. 
There is a distinct difference, for example, between the vowel 
[e] in the infinitive aimer and that in faime. Not only is the 
former shorter, but also less open than the latter. The same 
may be said of trailer and traitent. The sound referred to is 
known as middle e. It is less tense than the close [e], being 
pronounced with mouth a little more open and the front of 
tongue a little lower, but not so much as to produce [e]. The 
sound may be placed on the triangle (§ lo) midway between 
[e] and [&], although in some cases it seems to approach nearer 
to [e] and in others to [e], being sometimes confused with one 
or the other. In England it resembles the vowel in the 
words men, net, ferry (first syllable), though American speech 
makes it open in such cases. In French it occurs only 
in unstressed syllables, where it is very frequent. The 
phonetic symbol for it is [e] ; but after all, the difference in 
sound is so slight that the ordinary symbol [s] may generally 




be used instead, and the difference ignored, especially by 

29. One of the principal causes leading to middle e is vocalic 
assimilation. The vowels contained in two consecutive 
syllables have a tendency to assimilate in timbre, the first 
taking almost the same timbre as the second. Thus in traitent 
the vowel is open according to the general rule, but in traiter 
it assimilates itself somewhat to the second vowel which is 
close, thus becoming only half-open. The following table 
contains examples of this tendency. It will be observed that 
the change is mostly from the open sound towards the close 
one, though cases of the opposite are not infrequent. 



Less open 



Less open 









presser, -ez 



guetter, -ez 



feter, -ez 



laisser, -ez 



pecher, -ez 



baiser, -ez 



greffer, -ez 



baigner, -ez 



queter, -ez 






preter, -ez 











greler, -e 



aigu, aiguille 






mais oui 



Less close 



Less close 



etais [ste] 



ebene [ebem] 


elevez, -e 

el eve [eleiv] 


begayez, -e 

b6gaie [bege] 

30. Apart from vocalic assimilation, the vowel e in ordinary 
spelling when unstressed very frequently represents a 
middle e, or a sound so open that it may not incorrectly 
be written as [s].^ This is so in the following and in other 
cases : 

(i) Before r followed by another vowel, as jeroce [feros], 
exterieur [eksterjoeir], preference [prefsrais], espirance 
[esperais], mysiirieux [mistErj0], sirieux [s£rj0], vereux 
[v£r0]. In many cases, however, there is hesitation. 

^ Grammarians generally represent e (with an acute accent) as always 
close, whether stressed or not, but as a fact it is only close for certain 
when final. 


(2) Before a consonant followed by a silent e mute, as 

midecin [metse], hSqueter [bskte], Svinement [evenmcl], 
vSnerie [venri], dleri [selri], imeri [emri]. Properly 
speaking, such words should have the grave accent owing 
to the syllable being practically closed (see § 25 (3)), 
but the grave accent is rarely written in the middle of 
a word.^ 

There are however exceptions, as ilever [elve], dimener 
[demne], Smeraude [emroid], ichelon [eJ15], crineler 

(3) When it represents e in the root word or stem. Thus, 

we have rSgler [regie] from regie, rigner [rejie] from regne, 
sScher [seje] from seche. Similarly, we have mitrer, 
dder, icritner, inquUter, ISguer, etc., pronounced with 
fairly open e. 

When initial, however, i is often less open than when 
in the interior of a word. 

31. In many cases the unstressed e is variable, some 
speakers pronouncing it open, others intermediate, and others 
close in the same word. Thus : 

(i) The symbol at is generally open, as maison [mszo], raison 
[rezo], comhinaison [kobinezo], raisin [reze]. But in a 
few words of this category the middle or close e is also 

(2) The same is the case with the combination es, which varies 

between the open sound and the close one, as esprit 
[espri], [^spri], or [espri]. Thus also with such words as 
estimer, essentiel, essayer, respect, rester, restreindre, res- 
pirer, resplendir, ressusciter, desservir, dessicher, dessiner, 
descendre, pressentir, messeoir, message, domestique, 
forestier, Robespierre, etc.^ 

(3) The prefix ex- before a vowel or h ' mute,' and the prefix 

ef- before / are often pronounced with the sound inter- 
mediate or close, as exercice [egzersis], examiner [egzamine], 

1 In the Dictionnaire de V Academic (1877), avSnement was altered to 
avinement, but many other words, such as ivinement, were left un- 

2 It should be remembered that there are numerous cases of es where 
the vowel represents e mute, as in dessous, dessus, ressembler, ressort, 
etc. These are the prefixes de- and re- before s, which is doubled to 
preserve the s sound (§71 (S))* 


e§et [efe], effort [efoir], inexact [inegzakt], inexigihle 
[inegzi3ibl], inefficace [inefikas]. 

32. It will be seen from this chapter and the two preceding 
ones that the vowel e varies greatly between the very open 
sound and the very close one. In particular, unstressed e 
has numerous individual divergencies and many delicate 
shades. But the beginner need not trouble too much over 
these. He cannot go far wrong though he disregards vocalic 
assimilation, variability, and similar matters, and includes 
under [e] all cases referred to in this chapter. He will not 
commit a grave fault if he opens the vowel a little more or a 
little less. 

33. Unstressed e frequently becomes mute in rapid, careless 
pronunciation. This is particularly the case in monosyllables, 
such as Us, des, cet, cette, est, etc., and even in such a word as 
dejd. In popular print one finds such forms as I's hommes 
[Izom], d's auires [dzoitr], cet enfant [stdfa], cette histoire 
[stistwair], c'est-d-dire [stadiir], il est dejd venu [il 8 d3a vny], 
etc. Needless to say, this is a freedom of language that 
should be avoided. 

On the other hand there are several words in which an 
apparent e mute is sounded half -open e : huffleterie [byfletri], 
marqueterie [marketri], parqueterie [parketri], mousqueterie 
[musketri]. Properly speaking, these words should have 
double t. Similarly, we have senegon [senso], chevecier [/evsjc], 
Genevois Ijenvwa], etc. 


CLOSE A [a] 

34. There are two a sounds, close and open, as there are 
two kinds of the other vowels. Close a [a], is the Scottish or 
Northern English pronunciation of the vowel in such words 
as act, bat, pat, mat, where it is short, and hath, past, mast, 
where it is long. In America the short sound is not usual, 
[ae] being substituted for it as in the South of England, but 
the long sound is heard in such words as those just mentioned 
(hath, past, etc.). The open a [a] is quite a different sound, 
much broader, found in the English words father, psalm, 
calm, etc. The difference between the two sounds is much 
less apparent to the ear than between the two e's, with the 
result that many people confuse the two. 

35. For [a] the mouth is not so open, nor the tongue quite 
so low down as for [a], which is the widest of all vowels and 
has the tongue lying as low as possible. In the case of [a] 
the lips are rather flat, with their corners slightly drawn back, 
while for [a] the lips become rather rounded, with their corners 
drawn in. For [a] again, the tongue muscles are held rather 
tense, with the point of the tongue slightly advanced and 
sensibly pressed against the lower incisive teeth, while for [a] 
there is only sufficient tenseness to maintain the sound. 

36. It requires to be emphasized that the close [a] re- 
ferred to is that found in Scotland or Northern Eng- 
land. The tendency of all Southern English and American 
English is to substitute [se] for the short sound. The [se] is 
intermediate between [e] and [a], and does not occur in 
French, unless as a nasal (§ 97). The English speaker, for 
example, pronounces the words pat, rat, as [paet], [raet]. This 
substitution of [se] is a fault to be avoided in French. The 
close [a] is so frequent in French that any negligence in this 
matter is ruinous to the pronunciation. 


37. Close [a] is represented orthographically by many 
signs : a, d, d, e, oi, ot, oie, oy, one, etc. In regard to length, 
it follows the seven- vowel rule, i.e. when stressed it is long 
before [v, z, 3, j], or final [r]. The circumflexed oi, when 
stressed, is also long, if in a closed syllable, as hoUe [bwait]. 
When unstressed, close [a] is always short, and somewhat 
less tense. 

38. In the ordinary spelling, close [a] occurs in a variety of 
syllables and terminations. These may be reduced to the 
following cases : 

(i) The letter a : 

At the end of a word, as papa [papa], il tomba [toba], 
il fera [fara]. Exceptions are fa, la (musical notes), 
and beta [beta]. 

Followed by a mute consonant or consonants, as 
chat [Ja], estomac [estoma], drap [dra], je combats 
[koba]. There are one or two exceptions, however, 
such as climat [klima], chocolat [fokola] (Spanish 
word), gars [ga] ; and in the termination -as the 
vowel is only close as a rule in bras [bra] and in 
verbal endings, as tu auras [ora], tu parlas [parla]. 

In all closed terminations, except a few special 
ones which are referred to under open a (see 
next chapter). Thus, nappe, sac, chaque, bague, 
chasse, mal, travail, etc. 

And generally in all non-final syllables, except in 
-ation and a few other cases (see next chapter). 
Thus, Canada, animal, madame, papier, casserole, etc. 

(2) The letter a, as la, dega ; and the letter a in verbal 

endings, as nous donndmes, vous donndtes, il donndi 
[donam, donat, dona]. 

(3) The letter e in a few isolated words, and in the ad- 

verbial termination -emment, as femme [fam], solennel 
[solanel], nenni [nani], prudemment [prydamd]. In many 
of these words, however, such as nenni, hennir, indemnity, 
and solennite, the [a] sound is giving way to [e], under 
the influence of orthography. Compare (7) below. The 
termination -emment, however, remains unchanged, on 
account of its constant relationship with -ant, -ent. 

(4) The groups oi, 01 (except after r, and in a few isolated 

words mentioned in next chapter) . In the seventeenth 


century 'they were pronounced [we], and are still so 
pronounced in many provinces. In normal French, 
however, they now take the sound of [wa], as moi [mwa], 
oiseau [wazo], goitre [gwaitr]. We have also close a, 
though coming after r, in miroir [mirwair], iiroir [tirwair], 
terroir [terwair], Bavarois [bavarwa], and Hongrois 

(5) The group oy, except after r. As a rule, it only occurs 

medially, before an audible vowel, being pronounced 
[waj] : loyal [Iwajal], voyant [vwaja], nous noyons [nwajo]. 
In the few final cases, it is [wa], as in Darboy, Fontenoy, 

(6) The group oie when verbal, except after r. It is 

sometimes sounded [waj] (not [wa]), as je noie [nwaij], 
que je vote [vwaij], je ploierai [plwajre], ploiemeni 
[plwajma]. But this is generally regarded as a pro- 
vincial ism. •'• 

(7) The groups oue, oe. In several words with these 
groups, the normal pronunciation used to be [wa], and 
this is still retained in some, as couenne [kwan], rouen- 
nerie [rwanri], moelle [mwal], moelleux [mwal0], moellon 
[mwalo]. But in others, under the influence of ortho- 
graphy, the pronunciation [we] is gaining ground from 
year to year. Thus, we have jouet [3we], rarely [3wa], 
fouet [fwe], rarely [fwa], couette [kwet], rarely [kwat]. 
In others again, the [we] sound alone is used, as girouette 
[3irwet], chouette [fwet], mouette [mwet], rouet [rwe]. 
In broueite the ou is a full vowel [bruet].^ 

The same [wa] sound is occasionally heard in souhatt, 
souhaiter, but the normal pronunciation is [swe], [swete]. 

The group oi is pronounced [we], as goHeite [gwelet], 
goimon [gwemo], goHand [gwela]. 

* See footnote to § 41 (7). * Footnote to § 72. 




Sa, ta, va, r6s6da, il porta, il sera 

sa, ta, va, rezeda, il porta, il 

Plat, j'abats, 6tat, combat, tu vas 

pla, 3aba, eta, koba, ty va 

Tache, place, canne, salle, nappe, 
relaps, jaspe, algue, calme, 
halte, ils avalent, valse, drame, 

taj, plas, kan, sal, nap, 
ralaps, 3asp, alg, calm, 
alt, ilz aval, vals, dram, 

Fatal, banal, camarade, cabale 
Paris, charity, chapitre, marcher 

fatal, banal, kamarad, kabal 
pari, Jarite, Japitr, marje 





Cel^, voil^, c^, hol^, del^ 
Aimat, aimames, aimates, cher- 

Hennir, indemnity, solennit6, 

Je bois, quoi, soif, avoir, Eloigner 

Goitreux, cloitre, cloitrier 
Noyer, employer, tournoyer, 

11 aboie, il nettoie, ils envoient 

sala, vwala, sa, ola, dala 
sma, emam, emat, Jerja 

aniir, edamnite, solanite, 

3e bwa, kwa, swaf, avwa:r, 

gwatr0, klwa:tr, klwatrie 
nwaje, aplwaje, turnwaje, 

il abwa, il nstwa, ilz avwa 

Voilk la femme qui sera k toi. 

Va, la dame frappe sur la table. 

Le soir nous mangeames avec la pay- 

11 y a une carafe danoise k ma table. 

Madame est malade et marche mal. 

vwala la fam ki sara a twa. 
va, la dam frap syr la tabl. 
l9 swa:r nu masam avek la 

il i a yn karaf danwa:z a ma 

madam e malad e marj mal. 

OPEN A [a] 

39. Open a, as already stated, is essentially the same sound 
as in the English words father, rather, psalm, calm, where it 
is long. The short form is not found as a rule in Southern 
English except in diphthongs, as my [moi], tie [tai], etc., but 
it occurs frequently in Scotch and American English, as well 
as in French. It is the widest of vowel sounds, requiring the 
greatest opening of the mouth ; and also the deepest, requiring 
the lowest position of the tongue, which lies flat in the floor 
of the mouth and wholly covers it. The difference between 
close and open a is seen in such French words as matin and 
matin, chasse and chdsse, ma and mat, patte and pate, etc. 

The beginner should beware of pronouncing open a like 
aw, as in paw, which is really an open o. In some parts of 
the English-speaking world we hear such words as father, 
can't, pronounced fawther, cawnt. This fault has a much 
worse effect in French than in English. 

4fO. Open a is represented orthographically by a, a, oi, ot, oe 
[wa]. It conforms to the rule of the naturally long vowels ^ 
[a, o, 0], being short only when final, that is, when in the 
last syllable of a word, without a consonantal sound after it, 
as degdt [dega], mat [ma]. When non-final, it is usually 
long when stressed and half-long when unstressed, as 
pate [pait], pate [pa'te].^ 

41. It occurs generally in the following cases in ordinary 
spelling : 

(i) The letter a when circumflexed (a), except in verbal 
endings. Thus, pale [pail], dpre [aipr], pdtir [patiir]. 

1 See page 90, § 104 (3). 

2 For all practical purposes, half-length may be disregarded and 
included under ' short.' 



Many of the unstressed cases represent an old -as- now 
contracted to a, as tdcher, fdcher, rdler, bdter, hdtir, hldmer, 
pdmer, chateau, pdquerette, etc. In bdbord, however, the 
a is close, the circumflex being due to a false ety- 

(2) In the termination -as, whether the s be silent or not, 

as cas [ka], ias [ta], matelas [matla], atlas [atlais], hilas 
[elais], Kansas [kasais]. In hras and verbal endings, 
however, the sound is close [a].^ 

(3) In many cases in the termination -asse, as classe [klais], 
Schasse [e/ais], tasse [tais], grasse [grais].^ In Paris at least, 
such pronunciation is pretty general, though it appears 
uncouth to some French people who do not trouble to 
open the mouth so much, and prefer [a]. There are, 
however, numerous instances, even in Paris, where -asse 
has the vowel close, as crasse (dirt), chasse, masse, cuirasse, 
bicasse, crevasse, carcasse, paillasse, brasse, etc. It is 
close also in all those words where the suffix -asse takes 
a * pejorative ' or unfavourable meaning, as savantasse, 
bestiasse, fillasse, etc. Cultivated French speakers, indeed, 
are by no means in accord as to the sound of the vowel 
a followed by s. 

(4) In the group -aille, pronounced [aij], as bataille [bataij], 

Versailles [vsrsaij], taille [taij], cisailles [sisaij]. On the 
other hand, when this group occurs medially, it is frequently 
close, as in ailleurs, bataillon, maillot, assaillir, faillir, 
gaillard, caillou, etc. It is also close in midaille, que faille, 
que je vaille, qu'il faille. Note that the termination -ail 
is always close [aij], as travail [travaij], detail [detaij], 
as also are derivatives from it, as travailler [travaje], de- 
tainer [detaje]. An exception is rail [raij]. 

(5) In the group roi, roi, pronounced [rwa], as endroii [adrwa], 
octroi [oktrwa], croitre [krwaitr], froisser [frwase]. 

^ There seems a tendency for it to become close in many other words 
in -as, where s is silent, particularly in the endings -las, -nas, -ras, -tas. 
For instance, even in Paris, one often hears it close in matelas, chasselas, 
cervelas, verglas, ananas, cadenas, embarras, taffetas, galetas, etc. 

* Many of such cases are derivatives from words in -as, where the 
vowel is open, as grasse from gras, basse from bas, lasse from las, etc. 
The open sound is also carried into the verbs, and hence we have it in 
such words as amasser, ramasser, passer, trepasser, sasser, ressasser, 
tasser, entasser, compasser, damasser, prelasser, etc. See § 43 (i). 


In a few isolated words, too, the symbol oi, though not 
preceded by r, is given the open sound [wa] by some speakers. 
This is so in le hois, hautbois, la boite, foi, mois, notx, pots, 
empots, potx, poids, contrepoids, toil, voix. In some of 
these cases the open sound serves to distinguish homonyms. 
Thus le hois [bwa], but je hois [bwa] ; la boite [bwait], but 
il boite [bwat] ; foi [fwa], but fois [fwa] ; mois [mwa], 
but moi [mwa] ; toit [twa], but toi [twa] ; voix [vwa], but 
je vois [vwa]. 

(6) In the group roy, pronounced [rwa] when final and [rwaj] 

in other cases, as Geoffroy [3Dfrwa], Godefroy [godfrwa], 
royal [rwajal], croyons [krwajo]. 

(7) In the group roie [rwa], and in the termination -oie 

in nouns. Thus, proie [prwa], soie [swa], joie [3wa]. When 
roie is verbal (the oi representing oy), it is sometimes sounded 
[waj], as il foudroie [fudrwaij], ils croient [krwaij], broiement 

(8) Before a final z sound (i.e. -ase, -az, -aze),^ and in the 

terminations -azon, -ason. Thus, case [kaiz], gaz [gaiz], 
gaze [gaiz], gazon [gozo], blason [blozo]. An exception is 
diapason [djapazo]. 

(9) In the terminations -ation, -assion, as nation [nasjo], 
observation [opservasjS], passion [pasjo]. In many such 
cases, however, there is a tendency to close the vowel. 

(10) Frequently also in the following terminations, viz. 

-abre, -adre, -afre, -avre, -able (not the affix), -rade. Thus, 
sabre [saibr], ladre [laidr], Kafre [kaifr], Havre [aivr], sable 
[saibl], miracle [miraikl]. 

(11) In a few cases before final r, as rare [rair], barre [bair], 
bar [bair], gare [gair]. In most cases, however, the vowel 
is close. 

* This pronunciation [waij] or [wa:j] (§ 38 (6)) in the verbal termina- 
tions -oie, -oient is regarded as a provincialism. The simple [wa] or 
[wa] is the correct pronunciation, but the [j] is usually pronounced in 
the case of -ayer and -eyer verbs (§25 (6)), especially in cases where 
the y is retained {je paye, je payerai, etc.). In verse the mute e, which 
does not count for a syllable in paierai, counts in payerai. 

* But not -oise, which is close {bourgeoise, courtoise, danoise, etc.). 


(12) In several isolated words, as flamme, manne, Jeanne, 
Anne, Jacques, gars [ga], chocolat, climat, crabe, espace, 
esclave, poele [pwail],^ damne [dam], gagne [gaiji], dame, 
and derivatives from any of these. 

42. While the above rules are generally accepted, it should 
be understood that French speech varies considerably on 
the subject of the two «'s. It is often a delicate question to 
decide whether such and such a word should be pronounced 
with [a] or [a] ; and this applies also to the symbol oi. The 
sound varies from individual to individual, and depends 
largely on the district. It may be said that [a] is more 
common in Brittany and in Provence, where such a word as 
pate is often pronounced like patte [pat], while [a] is more 
general in Normandy and in Eastern France. In any case 
where there is doubt or hesitation, the student is recom- 
mended to use [a]. 2 

1 But poile (frying-pan) is [pwal]. 

* Many excellent teachers do not recommend the use of [a] in ordinary 
speech, and do not regard it as indispensable to French. It is certainly 
Parisian, however, and adds beauty to the language. 





Acre, cable, patre, dme, bat, 
appat, batard, anier, mdter, 
platrer, patee 

a:kr, ka:bl, pa:tr, aim, ba, 
apa, bata:r, anje, mate, 
platre, pate 


Bas, pas, amas, appas, repas, 
gras, vasistas, Leonidas, 
Stanislas, as 

ba, pa, ama, apa, r9pa, gra, 
vasistais, leonidais, stanis- 
la:s, a:s 


Lasse, passe, amasse, casse,^ 
nasse, basse, ressasse, pr6- 
lasse, Parnasse 

lais, pais, ama:s, kais, najs, 
ba:s, rasais, prelais, par- 


Paille, braille, rocaille, fian- 
9ailles, mangeaille, volaille, 
marmaille, caille 

pa:j, braij, rokaij, fjasaij, 
ma'^aij, volaij, marmaij, 


Froid, croit, croix, droit, pa- 

Croit, croitra, surcroit, je crois 

Leroy, croyez, broj^er, proyer, 

frwa, krwa, krwa, drwa, 

krwa, krwatra, syrkrwa, 39 

larwa, krwaje, brwaje, 

prwajc, brwajoeir 


Broie, Troie, que je croie, fou- 

La voie, foie, oie 

brwa, trwa, ka 39 krwa, 

la vwa, fwa, wa 


Vase, phrase, rase, base, ecrase, 
stase, phase, topaze, rason 

va:z, fraiz, ra:z, ba:z, ekraiz, 
sta:z, fa:z, topa:z, razo 


Exploration, gradation, ration, 
occupation, spiration, stagna- 

eksplorasJD, gradasjS, rasjo, 
okypasjo, spirasjo, stag- 
nas j 5 

Macabre, calabre, glabre, cadre, 
madre, balafre, navre, ca- 
davre, fable, jable, diable, 
accable, oracle, rafle 

makaibr, kalaibr, gla:br, 
kaidr, maidr, balaifr, 
na:vr, kndaivr, fa:bl, 
3a:bl, djaibl, akaibl, 
oraikl, ra:fl 


Mare, contrecarre, mars, jarre 

mair, kotrgkair, mars, 3a:r 

Je crois que Jeanne et Jacques sont las. 
Le tailleur a gagne la medaille. 
Geoffroy a pris trois tasses de the. 
L'ane a tache d'ecraser les vases. 
Jadis on faisait de la sole dans la Chine. 

39 krwa k9 3am e 3a:k s5 la. 
l9 tajoeir a gajie la medaij. 
3ofrwa a pri trwa ta:s d9 te. 
la:n a taje dekraze le va:z. 
3adis 5 f9zs d9 la swa da la 

' Open when denoting 'breakage,' or a printer's 'case,' but some- 
times close when meaning ' cassia/ or ' basin.' 


43. When unstressed, the vowel a, whether close or open, 
is generally pronounced with a little less tension of the 
muscles. The following points regarding it should also be 
noted : 

(i) Derivatives generally follow the root- word or stem, 
unless some modifying influence arises to change the sound. 
Thus, chasser [Jase] from chasse [fas], but passer [pase] from 
passe [pais] ; travailler [travajs] from travail [travaij], but 
hrailler [braje] from braille [braij] ; soi-disant [swa-diza] from 
soi [swa], but soierie [swari] from soie [swa]. We give here 
some examples in connexion with open a (see Footnote 2, 
page 43) : 
























ec raser 





































(2) In some cases, however, difference of stress acts as a 
modifying influence, and changes the quality of the vowel 
from [a] to [a]. The further the vowel is from the tonic 
stress, the greater is the tendency to this. Thus we have 
[a] in hajricade, grasseyer, fahuliste, damnation, cadsivereux, 
iriflammation, diabolique, cadran, etc., in spite of [a] in 
the root-words. The same tendency appears in compound 
words; thus the open [a] in passe becomes quite close in 




passementerie, and even with some speakers in passeport and 
passepoil. Other examples are : 












Jeanne tte 



















cas de conscience 




bas de soie. 

(3) There are many words more or less isolated or un- 
derived which have [a] in the unstressed syllable. Among 
these may be mentioned the following : Calais, magon, limagon, 
colimagon, magot, maffle, maquis, jadis, brasier, cassis, pasieur, 
praline, scabreux, anis. There are also many cases where the 
vowel is open before a z sound, as basalte, basane, jaseran, 
masure, mazette, Jason, etc. Compare § 41 (8). 

(4) In some unstressed syllables [a] or [a] is replaced by a 
sound intermediate between the two. In other words, just 
as there is a middle e, so there is a middle a. It is less tense 
than the close sound, the mouth is a little more open, and the 
tongue a trifle lower, but not so much as to sound [a]. It 
generally occurs before r, in a pretonic syllable, i.e. in 
an unstressed syllable immediately preceding the stressed 
one. It is difficult sometimes to know whether to class it 
with [a] or with [a], as it seems to vary between the two. 
Some phoneticians write it as [a]. It approaches [a] in such 
words as carreau, carrosse, carre, carotte, baron, garenne, marron, 
parrain, marraine, sarrau, etc., where the r is mostly doubled. 
But it comes nearer to [a] in most words, especially where 
another consonant follows [r], as mardi, partir, tarder, marcher ^ 
marmite, charpie, darder, artilleur, etc. With a few exceptions, 
therefore, it may be included under the phonetic symbol [a],^ 
to save multiplicity of signs. 

^ In English, on the other hand, [a] predominates before [r]. 

CLOSE [o] 

44. There are two o's, the one close and the other open. 
They are distinct in sound from each other, though repre- 
sented generally by the same orthographic symbols {o, 6, au, 
oa, etc.). The correct enunciation of the two sounds should 
occasion no difficulty to the student. The close sound [o] 
is the Scotch or Northern English pronunciation of o in 
such words as note, wrote, coat, where it is long, and notation, 
rotation, coterminous, where it is short. The open sound [o], 
on the other hand, is found long in shawl, wrought, caught, 
and short in block, rot, cot. 

45. Referring to the triangle of vowels in § lo, it will be 
noticed that on passing from [a] to [o] the tongue bunches 
up a little towards the back, the mouth closes a trifle, and 
the lips become somewhat rounded and projected. These 
characteristics are all intensified in the case of close [o], for 
which— in French at least — the rounding and pushing out 
of the lips is an important matter that must not be neglected. 
The muscles, too, are held tenser for [o] than for [o], 

46. The close sound, as stated, is found purest in Scotland, 
where it is a monophthong. In the South of England it is 
replaced by a diphthong ([ou], etc.), the second element of 
which is generally oo (phonetically [u]). This is due to want of 
lip-rounding and lack of tension. The vocal organs are not 
held sufficiently fixed in their position, with the result that 
the vowel, especially if it be long, does not maintain its quality 
but tends to glide into another. The simple remedy is to 
round and project the lips sufficiently, and keep the 
muscles tense, thus preventing any gliding movement so 
long as the sound continues. Such a word as cote in French 
must not be pronounced [kout] or [kout], but [koit]. 

47. In regard to length, close o follows the rule of the 
n 49 


naturally long vowels [a, o, 0], already referred to under [a] 
(§ 40). It is generally found as follows in ordinary spelling : 

(i) In all cases of final o, that is, when no consonantal sound 
follows, as dos [do], galop [galo], numiro [nymero]. The 
vowel of trop, however, becomes open in liaison, as trop 
aimable [tropsmabl], and some people open it always. 

(2) All cases of circumflexed o, as iot [to], drole [droil], fantome 
[fatoim], noire [noitr], Saone [soin], oter [ote], cloture [klotyir]. 
But it is frequently open in aumone. 

(3) In the termination -otion, as Smoiion [emosjo], notion 

[nosjo], potion (posjo]. 

(4) The vowel o before [z], 2iSrose [roiz], poser [poze], explosif 

[eksplozif], groseille [grozsij], Buloz [byloiz]. There are a 
few exceptions : philosophe [filozof], myosotis [mjozotiis], 
losange [bzai3], cosaque [kozak], hosanna [ozanna], and 
moza'/que [mozaik], together with words in -osition (especially 
proposition) and those which commence with pros- {prosdique, 
prosilite, etc.). 

(5) In some cases in the terminations -ome, -one. In olden 

times these terminations were always close. They re- 
presented learned words, as distinct from the terminations 
-omme, -onne, which occurred in words in common use. 
In most cases they are now pronounced open [om], [on]. 
But in a few isolated words one hears [oim], [om], as arome, 
atome, axiome, brome, chrome, idiome, tome, zone, lazarone, 
cyclone, icon. In others again there is hesitation between 
[0] and [o], as in gnome, hippodrome, amazone, atone, 

(6) In some cases in the termination -osse. In most cases 
this is pronounced [os], but [ois] is common in dosse [dois], 
fosse [fois], grosse [grois]. Grosse (twelve dozen) is generally 

(7) The groups eau, au, except before r and in a few 

isolated words. Thus, maux [mo], anneau [ano], gaule 
[goil], cause [koiz], heaume [oim], auteur [otoeir], nautik 
[notik]. Lausanne J however, is frequently [lozan]. 

In the many cases of unstressed au the words include 
those in which this symbol represents an old French 
diphthong now contracted, as aucun, aussi, autant, chauffer, 
fausser, hauteur, sauter, etc. They also include a large 
number of learned and recent words, as auspices, austere, 



austral, authentique, auiographe, automobile, autriche, caution, 
(8) In a few isolated words, as obus [obyis], odieux [odj0], 
odeur [odoeir], momie [momi] and its derivatives. 

' Some of these words, however, are frequently pronounced with 
[o] when the vowel is followed by two consonants, as [ospis, ostsir, astral], 
etc., and even in several other cases {autoriser, autoviU, authentique^ 
auguste, etc.). 



Alto, folio, mot, clos, gros, heros, 
pot, dos, idiot, devot, trot, 

alto, foljo, mo, klo, gro, ero, 
po, do, idjo, devo, tro, 


Rot, depot, aussitot, il clot, 
prevot, cote, hote, rode, 
diplome, pole, Rhone, con- 
troler. geolier, cloturer, tot- 

ro, depo, osito, il klo, prevo, 
ko:t, o:t, roid, diploim, 
po:l, rom, kotrole, 3olje, 
klotyre, tofe 


Commotion, lotion, devotion, 

komosjo, losjo, devosjo, 


Chose, dose, prose, pose, close, 
Gaidoz, Joseph, oser, position, 
positif, roseau 

Jo:z, do:z, pro:z, poiz, klo:z, 
g£do:z, 30Z8f, oze, pozisjo, 
pozitif, rozo 


Chapeau, etau, defaut, il vaut, 
il faut, faute, paume, epaule, 
aube, auge, badauderie, sau- 
mon, saulaie, vautour 

Japo, eto, defo, il vo, il fo, 
fo:t, po:m, epo:l, o:b, 
0:3, badodri, somo, sols, 

Le chateau est pos6 au haut des Vosges. 
Claude a saute dans I'eau apres 

Le pauvre idiot est sous le gros saule. 
L'autre veau a saute par-dessus nos 

Les rosiers du chateau sont beaux. 

la Jato 8 poze de vo:3. 
klo:d a sote da lo apre 1 apo. 

la povr idjo 8 su la gro soil, 
lotr vo a sote par-dasy no 

le rozje dy Jato s3 bo. 


OPEN [o] 

48. Open o, as already mentioned, is practically the same 
sound as in the words shawl, tortoise (long), and block, waddle 
(short). Attention should be paid to the clear, precise 
enunciation of the vowel. Some affected people speak of 
* culleges,* ' schullars,' ' cunscience.' Such deviations from 
the true sound are quite unintelligible when embodied in 
French words. 

49. As to length, open a follows the seven-vowel rule, i.e. 
when stressed, it is long before [v, z, 3], or final [r] (it 

does not occur before [j]^), as ove [oiv], loge [1013], mori [moir], 
Badajoz, [bada3oiz].2 When unstressed, it is almost in- 
variably short, as joli Ijoli], solide [soUd], local [lokal], logeiir 

50. The student should have no difficulty in knowing when 
this vowel occurs in ordinary spelling. If he remembers the 
particular cases of close referred to in the previous chapter, 
he will understand that in all other cases the symbols 0, 6, 
au, etc., represent open 0. The following cases of it, however, 
may be specially mentioned ^ : 

(i) The letter o (not 6) in closed syllables (except before 
[z], and in some cases of -ome, -one, -osse). Thus, posie 
[post], alors [abir], golfe [golf], nostalgie [nostal3i]. 

In the termination -os, where the 5 is sounded (mostly 
foreign words and names), the vowel is generally pronounced 

^ Except in o'il [o:j], old French for oui. 

2 The sound o before [z] is close {§ 47 (4)), with the exception of one 
or two proper names, as Badajoz, Booz [boo:z], Berlioz [berljoiz]. 

2 In addition to these cases, the close opens somewhat in liaison (as 
in pot-ct-l'eau, pot-au-lait, mot-il-mot, croc-en-jambe, trop aimable, etc.), 
coming really under (2). 



long, as pathos [patois], rhinoceros [rinoserois], Argos [argois]. 
In Calvados the is close.^ 

(2) The letter o (not 6) in open, non-final syllables, as 

modeste [modest], voler [vole], ovale [oval], igotste [egoist], 
poeme [poeim], zoologie [zoolo3i], morille [moriij]. But it is 
close in boa [boa], and oasis [oaziis] and a few more. 

In the prefix co-, the vowel is pronounced close by some 
people, especially before [a] or [e], as coaguler [koagyle], 
coalition [koalisjo], coexister [koegziste]. 

(3) The group au before [r], as taure [toir], Maure [moir], 
laurier [lorje], faurai [3ore], Aurillac [orijak]. 

Also in a few other words, as Paul, Paule (generally), 
Auch [oj], augmenter (and derivatives), Auxerre [oseir], 
and sometimes in sauf (preposition) and mauvais. In the 
case of aumone, when the 6 is pronounced open, the au is 
generally open also, owing to vocalic assimilation [omon] ; 
but in aumonier, though the may still be open, the au is 
pronounced close [omonje]. 

(4) In the termination -um (mostly Latin words), as decorum 

[dekorom], album [albom], opium [opjom], as well as 
medially in some compound words (triumviral, circum- 
navigation, etc.). 

(5) The group 00 in looch [lok], and alcool [alkol] and derivatives. 

^ Many French speakers pronounce the close in numerous other 
cases of -os ; but except where the words have an w in Greek, it is better 
to adopt the open sound. 



Robe, brioche, roche, ode, etoffe, 

dogme, propre, 6poque, 

Soleil, violet, volatile, comique, 

cochon, oratcur, heroique, 


rob, brioj, roj, od, etof, 
dogm, propr, epok, 

soleij, vjole, volatil, komik, 
kojo, oratoe:r, eroik, lokal 


Coasser, coactif, coeternel, 

koase, coaktif, koeternel, 


Centaure, saiirc, Faure, Laure, 
epidaure, aurore, je saurai, 
aureole, auricule 

sato:r, so:r, fo:r, loir, epidoir, 
oro:r, 39 sore, orcol, 


Rhuni, pensum, laudanum, 

rom, pesom, lodanom, 

Paul apporte des coqs et des cigognes. 
11 donne quatorze pommes k notre 

Cet homme adopte des dogmes ortho- 

En aiitomne I'orge est color^e comme 

L'album est dans notre coflfre de bord. 

pol aport de kok e de sigop. 
11 don katorz pom a notro 

set om adopt de dogmoz 

an oton lor3 e kolore kom 

lalbom 8 da notro kofra do 



51. When unstressed, the vowel o, like the other vowels, is 
pronounced with a little less tension of the muscles. The 
following points should also be noted : 

(i) Derivatives generally follow the root- word or stem, 

unless they become altered through some outside influence. 
Thus, dossier [dosje], adosser , endosser homdosse [dos], grossir 
[grosiir], grosseur from gwsse [grois], fosse [fose] from fosse 
[fois],^ zone [zone] from zone [zom], enjoler from geole, enroler 
from role, Pauline [polin] from Paul [pol] . 

(2) Vocalic assimilation (§ 29) occurs in some words, especi- 
ally where the same syllable is repeated, as bobo (bobo], 
coco [koko], rococo [rokoko], dodo [dodo], gogo [gogo], lolo 

(3) There is a middle o, intermediate between the close 
and the open sound. Phonetically, it is generally represented 
by [0]. The back of the tongue is a little lower than for close 
[o], but not so low as for [o] ; and the mouth is a little more 
open and the muscles slightly relaxed. It frequently takes 
the place of [o] or [o] in unstressed syllables, and with only 
the two symbols it is sometimes difficult to know with which 
to class it. Probably it is better to class it in most cases 
with [o]. It occurs in some derivatives from 6. Thus we 
have close [o] in the root- words cote, rot, pole, diplome, but 
middle [0] in coteau, cotelette, roti, hotelier, hopital, polaire, 
diplomate. It also occurs frequently in ordinary open syl- 
lables, as poteau, prononcer, comment, noter, rosace, roseole, 

52. The student should not trouble himself much over 
middle [e, a, 0]. In nearly all cases they may be neglected, 

^ The 0, however, is sometimes open in fossette, generally in fossoyer, 
fossoyeur, and always in fossile. 



and their place taken by the close or open sound, whichever 
is the nearer, without injury to the pronunciation. If the 
beginner will only set himself to surmount the difficulties in 
the way of a correct and clear enunciation of the eight standard 
vowels, he may ignore the discrimination required for the 
middle sounds until later. 


CLOSE [u] 

53. The open [u] is frequently heard in EngHsh (as in full), 
but is not found as a rule in French except in the middle 
provinces. The close sound of the vowel prevails, being 
the same as that in the English words rude, rule (long), or 
good, July (short). Close [u] is never represented, however, 
in ordinary French spelling by u, but solely by ou, cU, as jour, 
rouge, nous, couter, etc. 

54f. For the proper enunciation of close [u], the tongue 
rises towards the back still more than for [o], the tip going 
back almost to the middle of the mouth-floor (see diagram, § 8), 
There is also a greater projection and rounding of the lips, 
the orifice made by them being only large enough to allow 
the insertion of an ordinary lead pencil. The muscles of the 
tongue and lips are held very tense. 

55. Many English-speaking students pronounce the French 
[u] badly, because they do not push out the lips enough (this 
projection being uncommon in English), and do not hold the 
muscles sufficiently tense but allow them to relax before the 
sound finishes. The French [u], it should be remembered, 
is a vigorous firm sound. It should not be allowed to dis- 
appear, as it tends to do in rapid, careless speech. Thus, we 
hear vous avez (vzave], voulez-vous vous taire [vlevuvtEir], 
tout-d-fait [t ta fs], tout d Vheure [t ta loeir], etc. This is a 
negligence that should not be imitated. 

56. In regard to length, [u] follows the seven-vowel rule, 
i.e. when stressed, it is long before [v, z, 3, j], or final [r], as 
irouve [truiv], blouse [bluiz], rouge [ruij], mouille [muij], court 
[kuir]. It is also long in tous (the pronoun) when under stress 
(as in pour tous), and generally in coule, route, ecroule (see 
§ 104 (4) (c)). In all other cases it is short, even though 




circumflexed, as in mou, joug, loup, cout, gout, mout, saoul [su]. 
When unstressed, it is short and less tense, becoming often 
half-open. Thus, houton [buto], coucou [kuku], couleur [kuloeir], 
ouragan [uraga], ouhli [ubli], douter [dute], troupeau [trupo], 
moucher [mu/e], gouter [gute]. 

57. The word aout is correctly pronounced [u], but the 
archaic pronunciation [au] is again becoming frequent in 
conversation, and even [ut] and [aut] are sometimes heard. 



Louvre, louve, ouvre, couve, 
couse, spouse, douze, ven- 
touse, bouge, rouille, souille, 
grenouille, four, amour, lourd, 

luivr, lu:v, u:vr, ku:v, ku:z, 
epuiz, du:z, vatuiz, bu:3, 
ru!J, su:j, granu:j, fu:r, 
amu:r, lu:r, sakuir 


Vous, joue, choux, soul, caillou 
goutte, bouc, poule, mouche, 
lourde, courbe, courte, 
fourche, journee, boucher, 
bonder, gouter 

vu, 3U, Ju, su, kaju, gut, buk, 
pul, muj, lurd, kurb, kurt, 
fur J, 3urne, buje, bukle, 

11 laboure pour nous tous les jours. 
Lcs poules courent sur la route. 
Le bouc broute sous la voute. 
Voulez-vous souper sur la mousse ? 
La blouse de son 6pouse est rouge. 

il labuir pur nu tu le 3u:r. 
le pul ku:r syr la rut. 
l9 buk brut su la vut. 
vule vu supe syr la mus ? 
la bluiz d9 son epuiz e ru:3. 


58. We have now described the eight fundamental vowel 
sounds, and proceed to the three mixed ones [y, 0, oe]. 
They are so called because, although they make a simple 
impression on the ear, they are formed by the union of two 
of the fundamental ^sounds. The lips take the opening re- 
quired for the one, while the interior of the mouth assumes 
the shape belonging to the other, the result being a mixed 
sound not found in English. Thus, referring to the triangle 
in § 10, it is evident that we may put the lips in the rounded 
position required for [u] (as in English rude), as if we were 
actually going to sound this vowel, and while keeping them 
rounded sound the vowel [i] (as in English machine), i.e. move 
the tongue forward to the position required for the corre- 
sponding front vowel. We thus get the mixed sound [y], 
as in the French sur, tune, tu, etc. Similarly, we have a 
sound [0], made up of the lip position of [o] and the tongue 
position of [e], as in deux, feu, etc. The third mixed vowel 
[oe] is formed from the lip position of [o] and the tongue posi- 
tion of [e], as in leur, neuf, sceur, etc. The triangle may thus 
be more fully arranged as follows, the brackets round a vowe! 
denoting rounding and pushing out of the lips ; 

(CZo5e;>s- (y)- ^~ --/^^M 




The Vowel [y] 

59. This vowel, as above stated, is produced simply by 
rounding the lips as for [u], i.e. rounding them tightly as 
for whistling, and then sounding [i]. The vowel sound in 
the Scotch guid is somewhat similar, but is open, whereas the 
French sound is close and tense. The sound is so frequent 
that complete mastery over it is required, if one is to produce 
it easily and quickly. It should be practised thoroughly, 
until the muscles of the mouth are accustomed to the com- 
bination. Constant and careful repetition of the three sounds 
[i, u, y], backwards and forwards, will considerably help. 
Care should be taken (i) that the lips are sufficiently projected 
and rounded, and (2) that the movements of the lips and those 
of the tongue are made simultaneously and not in succession. 

60. Some difficulty may be experienced at first in pro- 
ducing the sound clearly after [r], [s], or [t] (as in rue, su, 
tu), but persistent practice will succeed. In the case of [t], 
the difficulty with beginners is largely due to their forming 
the consonant in the English instead of the French way. 
For the English t the tongue tip strikes the hard palate a 
little behind the upper teeth, but for the French t it must strike 
it immediately behind (§ 150). Practice should be made with 
such words as Huve, astuce, turc, tube, tuf, etude, laitue, tu,^ etc. 

61. When stressed, the vowel [y], like the two from which 
it is formed, is long before [v, z, 3], or final [r], and generally 
also in the termination -us (mostly in classical words) where 
[s] is sounded. Thus, cuve [kyiv], ruse [ryiz], juge [5yi3], 
voiture [vwatyir], Venus [venyis], omnibus [omnibyis]. In 
all other cases, whether stressed or unstressed, it is short, even 
though circumflexed, as vu [vy], juste [3yst], flUte [fiyt], 
bUche [byj]. When unstressed, it is uttered with less tension, 
becoming frequently half-open, as buvard [byvair], musique 
[myzik], murmur er [myrmyre]. 

62. The sound is generally represented in ordinary spelling 
by u. There are some cases denoted by u, as Esail [ezay], 
Danaus [danayis], and a few by ue (after g only), as cigue 

^ In common speech, the pronoun tu sometimes loses its vowel, as 

Tas pas compris ? Que Ves bite t 



[sigy], aigue [egyj.^ The symbol eu also takes the sound [y] 
in gageure [gajyir],^ vergeure [vEr5yir], mangeure [ma3yir], 
and in the past participle, past definite, and imperfect sub- 
junctive of avoir, as eu [y], feus [3y], tu eus [ty y], il eut [il y], 
nous eumes [nuz ym], vous eutes [vuz yt], Us eurent [ilz yir], etc. 
In chut the u is silent (/it), unless necessary for rhyme, 
or unless to designate the interjection, as : On entendit plusieurs 
chut [fyt]. 

^ The diaeresis over the e is merely to signify that the u is sounded. 
' Under the influence of orthography, the pronunciation [ga3oe!r] is 
becoming frequent. 



Vesuve, refuse, deluge, azur, 
etuve, accuse, refuge, mur 

vezyiv, rafyiz, dely:3, azy:r, 
etyiv, akyiz, r9fy:3, my:r 



Chute, culte, nul, luxe, usurpe, 
brume, urne, absurde, cruche, 
briile, affut, cru, tu, du 

fyt, kylt, nyl, lyks, yzyrp, 
brym, yrn, absyrd, kr>'J, 
bryl, affy, kry, ty, dy 

Russe, rude, truffe, ruche 
Sue, massue, re9u, supposer 
Tulipe, sculpture, tulle, tumulte 

rys, ryd, tryf, ryj 

syk, masy, rasy, sypoze 

tylip, skylty:r, tyl, tymylt 


Cresus, Bacchus, Festus, 
Taurus, crocus, hiatus, lotus, 

krezy:s, baky.s, festyis, 
toryis, krokyjs, jatyis, 
lotyis, prospEktyis 


Que j'eusse, qu'il eut, qu'ils 

k9 3ys, kil y, kilz ys 

Jules eut une culbute sur la tribune. 
J'ai vu plus d'une buche dans la cuve. 
Le cur6 aper9ut la perruque du Juge. 

Le due ne fume plus dans sa voiture. 

11 eut les muscles durs et tordus. 

3yl y yn kylbyt syr la tribyn. 
3e vy ply dyn byj da la ky:v. 
l9 kyre apsrsy la peryk dy 

la dyk na fym ply da sa 

il y le myskla dy:r e tordy. 


63. This sound is even more difficult to a beginner than [y]. 
It is sometimes stated in grammars to be like u in the English 
word fur, but this is a false analogy, only leading to confusion. 
There is no corresponding sound in either English or Scotch. 
The sound is formed by combining the rounded lip position 
of close [o] with the tongue position of close [e], i.e. 
pronounce [o] (as in English tone), taking care to project and 
round the lips, and then, without altering the position of 
them, sound [e] (as in English case). The result will be a 
peculiar resonance coming from just inside the lips, and 
forming a perfect French [0]. The usual fault in the case of 
English-speaking students is that they fail to advance and 
round the lips sufficiently, and they thus sound a kind of 
close [e]. The only remedy is practice. Exercises with 
[e, o, 0] in succession, backwards and forwards, should be 
diligently employed until the sound is under perfect control. 

64. This sound is short only when final in pronunciation, 
thus following the rule of the naturally long vowels [a, o, 0], 
referred to under [a] (§ 40). It is represented in ordinary 
spelling by eu, eu, eue, ceu. It occurs as follows, and may 
thus be distinguished from the open sound (as in heure, sceur, 
etc.) described in next chapter : 

(i) When eu is final in pronunciation, as jeu [30], deux 
[d0], hleus [bl0], nceud [n0], monsieur [m9sj0] ; and in deriva- 
tives from such words, as deuxieme [d0zjsm], bleudtre [bl0aitr], 
lieutenant [1 j 0tna] . 

The only exceptions are certain forms of avoir, which 
are pronounced \y] (§ 62). 

(2) In the terminations -euse, -eute, -eutre, and deriva- 
tives, as creuse [kr0iz], creuser [kr0ze], Meuse [m0iz], 




Smeute [em0it], imeuter [em0te], neuire [n0itr], neutraliti 
[n0tralite]. Also in Greek names in -eus, as Zeus [z0is], 
Orpheus [orf0is]. 

(3) In a few isolated words (including their derivatives) , 
such as jeune, jeudi, meule, meunier, pentateuque (learned), 
pseudonyme, neume} 

Dijeuner, however, is frequently pronounced open 
[de3oene], and even [de30ne] and [de3ne] are popular. In 
the case of meule, most teachers recommend [0] when the 
word means ' haystack,' but [oe] where it means ' millstone,' 
as a distinction of some kind exists in most French dialects. 

(4) The prefix eu-, as eucalyptus [0kaliptyis], Eulalie [0lali]. 
Exceptions are Europe, and sometimes Eugene, Euginie, 
in which it is open, though it tends to be close in the last. 

^ There are also a few other words of a learned nature, such as 
feudiste, deuteronome, ichneumon, teuton, and derivatives, together with 
some proper names {Beuchot, Ceuta, Deucalion, Neuilly, etc.), and words 
in -eiitique, -eumatique. 



Feu, feutier, lieu, lieutenant, 
queue, queuter, pneu, pneu- 
matique, gueux, gueuserie, 
Dieu, oeufs, boeufs 

f0, f0tje, lj0, lj0tna, k0, 
k0te, pn0, pn0matik, g0, 
g0zri, dj0, 0, b0 


Creuse, creuser, chartreuse, 

Meute, ameuter, ameutement, 

Feutre, calfeutrer, feutrage, 


kr0:z, kr0ze, Jartr0:z, 

m0:t, am0te, am0tma, 

f0:tr, kalf0tre, f0tra3, 



Ameulonner, emmeuler, meu- 

am0lone, am0le, m0nri 


Euphonie, eulogie, Euclide, 

0foni, 0lo3i, 0klid, 0frat 

Adieu, monsieur ! Dieu le veut. 
Ces yeux-ci sont plus bleus que ceux-la. 
Je veux deux oeufs pour ces gueux. 
Ceux qui s'ameutent sont facheux. 
Le meunier veut jeuner jeudi. 

adj0, m9sj0 ! dj0 la V0. 
sez J0si so ply bl0 ka sola. 
39 V0 d0z pur se g0. 
S0 ki samoit so fajo. 
la m0nje V0 30ne 30di. 

THE VOWEL [oe] (open eu) 

65. To produce this sound one must advance and round 
the lips as for open o [o], and while keeping them in this position 
sound [e], i.e. dispose the tongue for the corresponding front 
vowel. The result is the mixed vowel [oe], as found in such 
words as heure, peur, sceur, etc. Care must be taken not 
to round the lips as much as for close [o]. A very slight 
rounding will do, with the mouth fairly wide open ; and the 
muscles should not be held so tense, as both [o] and [e] are 
somewhat relaxed sounds and require no great effort either 
alone or mixed. By attention to this, there will be no 
confusion between this sound and the previous one [0], 
which has the lips more rounded and the muscles tense. 
Beginners who are unable to make any distinction should 
practise words containing both sounds, such as masculines 
in -eur (which have [oe]), and their feminines in -euse (which 
have [0]). Thus, acheieur, acheteuse ; danseur, danseuse ; 
menteur, menteuse ; causeur, causeuse. 

66. This sound is represented in ordinary spelling by eu, 
ceu, ue, ce. For length, it comes under the seven-vowel rule, 
i.e. when stressed, it is long before [v, j], or final [r], and 
short in other cases, a.sfleuve [ficeiv], feuille [foeij], peur [pceir], 
peuple [poepl]. When unstressed, it is always short and 
uttered with somewhat less tension, as jeunesse [3oen8s], 
fleurdelise [floerdalize]. 

67. It is never found in open final syllables (these being 
sounded [0]), but only in closed ones ; but in non-final 
syllables, there are several open cases. There need be no 
difficulty, however, in knowing when the sound occurs. 
If the four classes of [0], mentioned in the previous chapter, 
be remembered, it will be understood that in all other cases 



the symbols eu, ceu represent [oe], and that ue} ce always do 
so. Thus we have [oe] in such words as the following : 
peuvent, jeune, seul, veulent, neuf, meuble, veuvage, ecueil, 
bouvreuil, feuille, treuil, etc. 

68. It should be noted that, while we have [oe] in ceuf and 
h(zuf [oef, boef], we have [0] in the plurals ceufs [0], hceufs [b0], 
as the / is sounded only in the singular. Vocalic assimilation 
(§ 29) also tends in two or three cases to change [oe] into [0]. 
'Thus we have heitgle [boegl], heuglement [bceglama], but 
beugler [b0gle] ; abreuve [abroeiv], abreuvoir [abroevwair], 
but abreuver [abr0ve]. On the other hand, peu opens a little 
in a peu pres. 

^ Ue occurs in words in -cueil, -gueil, where this older form of writing 
[oe] has been retained to preserve the hard sound of c and g. 



Neuve, veuve, epreuve, cou- 
leuvre, deuil, veuille, fauteuil, 
seuil, fleur, ardeur, hauteur, 

noeiv, voeiv, eproeiv, kuloeivr, 
doe:j, voe:j, fotoe:j, soe:j,^ 
floeir, ardoeir, otoe:r, ajoe:r» 

Heurter, meurtrier, pleurant, 
Europe, heureux, peuplade, 
veuillez, Fleury 

oerte, moertrie, ploera, oerop, 
oer0, poeplad, voeje, floeri 


Cceur, soeur, oeuvre, oeuvrer 

koe:r, sce:r, oeivr, oevre 


Orgueil, orgueilleux, cueille, 
cueillir, cercueil, accueil, 
accueillir, longueil 

orgoeij, orgoej0, koe:j, koejiir, 
serkoeij, akoeij, akoejiir, 


ceil, oeillade, oeillet, oeillere 

oe:j, oejad, oejs, oeje:r 

Leurs jeunes soeurs m'ont accueilli. 
Les veuves veulent demeurer jeunes, 
L'ardeur de leurs coeurs les rend 

Leur honneur seul est leur oeuvre. 
Les aveugles ne peuvent cucillir de 


loer joen soe:r mot akoeji. 
le voe:v vcel damoere 3oen. 
lardoeir da loer koe:r le ra 

loer onoeir soel e loer oe:vr. 
lez avoegla na poe:v koeji:r da 



69. This is the indeterminate vowel occurring in such 
words as le, me, te, se, que, etc., and represented phonetically 
by [9]. It is somewhat similar in sound to the e in the English 
words over, taken, and to the letter a in about, again, sofa. 
For the French sound, however, the lips must be a little 
rounded and projected. It is thus a mixed sound, like 
[y, 0, oe], and its correct place is on the triangle somewhere 
near [oe]. Some phoneticians place it between [0] and [oe], 
thus regarding it as a mixture of middle [e] and middle [0], 
while others place it a little below [oe], regarding it as [oe] 
relaxed [de]. We have placed it in the latter position (see 
§ 58), but would draw attention to the main essential for its 
correct enunciation, viz. a slight lip-rounding. The sound 
is so common in French that it must be thoroughly mastered 
from the outset. The sound of e in over should be taken 
and practised with lips as described. 

This indeterminate sound is simply the decayed form of 
earlier distinct vowel-sounds, which became gradually 
neglected and were * skipped over ' because they were un- 
stressed. In numerous cases, it remains in the language as a 
mere graphic survival, no longer pronounced : (i) In the 
verbal terminations -aient, -oient, -tent, etc. (2) In those of 
futures and conditionals {-erai, -erais) after a vowel, as jouerai, 
flierais. (5) -In nouns in -erie after a vowel, as flouerie, 
feerie. (4) In the ending -gue, where the diaeresis merely 
indicates that the u is sounded, as aigue, cigue. (5) In 
such words as Caen, Madame de Stael, Saint-Saens 
[ka, stdl, SEsais]. (6) In all cases when it is final and 
preceded by a vowel or [j] (-ate, -aye, -ee, -ie, etc). In 
such cases as these last, it is pronounced in singing (see 

§ 105 (2)). 



70. Apart from such cases as those just mentioned, it is 
generally sounded (always short), though it has a habit of 
becoming almost silent or disappearing altogether, which has 
led French phoneticians to call it ' e caduc ' (' deciduous e '). 
The cases of this silence or disappearance (Elision) are con- 
sidered in Chapter XXXI. When sounded, it should be 
distinctly heard, and when stressed in any way (under 
tonic accent or emphasis) it becomes [oe], as prends-le [praloe], 
fais-le entrer [fdoe atre], oui, je viendrai [wi, 306 vJEdre].^ 

In ordinary spelling it occurs generally as simple e in open 
unstressed syllables, as relais [rale], petit [pati], reste [resta], 
armes [arma], le mattre [I9 meitr], de Paris [da pari]. The 
following cases, where it occurs under some other form, 
should be noted : 

(i) Monsieur is sometimes pronounced with a slack or some- 
what indistinct [o] [m6sj0], but the form [m9sj0], or even 
[msj0] is more frequently heard. 

(2) Peut-etre, though sometimes [p0t£itr] or [pcetsitr], is gener- 

ally [p9tsitr]. 

(3) Soucoupe is often [s9kup] in common speech. 

(4) The group ai is sounded [9] in jaisahle [fazabl], faiseur 

[f9zoeir], and in the different forms of faire in which ai 
is unstressed and followed by s, as faisant [f9za], faisais 
[f9z8], faisons [f9z3]. The same is the case with the com- 
pounds bienfaisant, bienjaisance, maljaisant, malfaisance. 
Under the influence of orthography, however, the sound [e] 
is becoming frequent in some of these forms, as [fsza], [fsze]. 

(5) The pre-fixes des-, -res- are pronounced [d9], [r9] in those 

cases where they represent de-, re- (not dS, ri) before s, 
as dessous [d9su], dessus [d9sy], ressaisir [r9S8ziir], ressortir 
[r9sortiir], ressentir [r9satiir].2 Cresson is also [kr9s3]. 

The student should guard against the tendency to turn 
e mute into close [e] when in an initial syllable. This is an 

^ In the seventeenth century the vowel of le, even when stressed, was 
frequently elided before another vowel, as in Moliere's line : 

Mais, mon petit Monsieur, prenez-l{e) un pen moins haut. 

This licence was followed by Victor Hugo and others in later times. 
Victor Hugo has even elided e before a full stop in a line in Cromwell : 
Chassons-l{e). Arridre, tous I 
2 See footnote 2, page 36. 



old tendency, which has already affected a large number of 
words. For example, crecelle, prevot, pepie, sejour, bent, desert, 
peter, petiller, etc., were originally pronounced with mute e. 
Desir used to be desir [dasiir] with some writers and the 
Comedie Frangaise, but the Academy substituted the close [e] 
in 1762. Similarly, rebellion has taken the accent, in spite of 
e mute in rebelle and se rebeller ; retable tends to take the place 
of retable, through a false analogy no doubt with retablir ; 
and celer is taking the place to some extent of celer, under the 
influence of receler. Care should, however, be taken to 
preserve the mute e in cases where it remains, such as rejuge 
(in spite of rejugier), religion (in spite of irreligion), etc. The 
difference of meaning between such words as repartir and 
repartir, recreer and recreer, reformer and reformer, etc., should 
also be remembered. 


Brebis, crevette, frelon, premier, 
d6partement, gouvernement, 

brabi, kravet, fralS, pramje, 
departama, guvernama, 

Je faisais, tu faisais, il faisait, 
nous faisions, vous faisiez, ils 

33 fazE, ty fazE, il fazE, nu 
fazjo, vu fazje, il faze 


Ressaut, ressauter, ressemblance, 
resserrer, ressource, ressouvenir 

raso, rasote, rasablais, 
rassre, rasurs, rasuvnirr 

Peut-etre monsieur veut-il une sou- 
Je pars demain, le temps reste beau, 
Le cour de justice rentrera mercredi. 

11 faisait quelquefois des porte -plumes. 

Ventrebleu ! Charles ressemble k un 
gredin ! 

pate:tr masj0 votil yn sakup. 

33 pa:r dame, la ta resta bo. 

la ku:r da 3ystis ratrara 

il faze kelkafwa de porta- 

vatrabl0 ! Jarla rasflibl a de 
grade ! 



71. We have already pointed out (§ 7) that there are three 
sounds, represented phonetically by [w, j, q], which are not 
merely vowels but consonants also, inasmuch as they are 
partly produced by a distinct friction of the breath. They 
are therefore called semi-consonants. They are really the 
vowels [u, i, y] (at the top of the triangle), produced with still 
narrower opening of the lips, and with tongue raised still 
higher towards the palate. Referring to the diagrams in 
§ 8, it will be observed that for the vowels [u, i, y], the lip- 
opening is very small and the passage between the tongue 
and palate is quite narrow. Now, if one of them is produced 
immediately before another vowel (as in oui, pied, nuit) so as 
to make one syllable of both vowels, an extra tenseness is 
required which narrows the passages still more. The lip- 
opening becomes smaller than for any pure vowel, and the 
tongue rises so high as almost to touch the roof. The result 
is audible friction, and the sound is really a semi-consonant. 
The vowel [u] becomes the semi-consonant [w] (pronounced 
like w in English win) ; the vowel [i] becomes [j] (pronounced 
like y in English yes) ; and the vowel [y] becomes [q], a sound 
not found in English but explained below. Thus we have 
oui [wi], moi [mwa], vienne [vjen], Dieu [dj0], suis [sqi], muet 
[mqs]. It is evident that these semi-consonants may be 
placed at the extreme top of the vowel-triangle (§ 103). 

The Semi-Consonant [w] 

72. As already stated, this is the same sound as the 
English w (in win, with, weak, etc.). All one has to do for 
its clear enunciation is to dispose the lips and tongue exactly 
as for [u] (as in French sou), but to pass immediately to the 


pronunciation of the second vowel. It occurs as follows in 
ordinary spelling : 

(i) Where ou is followed by a vowel, ^ as ouest [west], ouate 
[wat], couenne [kwan]. The semi-consonantal sound is also 
found in rapid speech in cases where one word ends in [u] 
and the next word begins with a vowel. Thus, ou est-il, 
in ordinary slow speech is [uetil], but uttered quickly it 
becomes [wetil]. 

(2) In the groups oi, oi, oy, oie, pronounced [wa], [wa] 
(§ 38, 41), as oiseau [wazo], croitre [krwaitr], noyer [nwaje], 
joie [3wa]. 

(3) In the groups oe, oe, as moelle [mwal], moellon [mwalo], 

poele [pwail]. See § 38 (7). 

(4) In the nasal -oin, as loin [Iwe], moins [mwe], poing [pwe]. 

(5) As w or wh in words of English origin, as tramway 

[tramwe], whist [wist], whig [wig] ; also in wallon [walo]. 

^ Where ou follows a group formed of a consonant ^r or /, it remains a 
full vowel, as : s'ebrouer, dcrouelles, prouesse, fioueur, clouage, etc. The 
same is the case in such words as boueux [buo), noueux [nu0], where 
a full vowel seems preferable. To these must be added such verbal 
forms Qs j onions [3uj3], jouiez [3uje], etc. 



Ouailles, ouaige, ouais, ouir, 
ouie, douane, fouace, douai- 
riere, enfouir, souhait, jouer, 

wa:j, we:3, we, wi:r, wi, 
dwan, fwas, dwerjeir, 
afwi:r, swe, 3we, denwe 


Oisif, boite, voile, foyer, soie 

wazif, bwa:t, vwal, fwaje, 


Coin, point, soin, groin, pointe 

kw8, pw8, SW8, grwE, pw£:t 


Sandwich, railway, warrant 

sadwitj, rElwe, wara 

Je vois le roitelet dans le wigwam. 

Antoine s'assoit sur la ouate. 
Voici des oiseaux noirs pour toi. 

J'aper9ois trois voiles a I'ouest. 
Dubois fait-il la moisson ce mois ? 

139 vwa la rwatle da la wig- 

atwan saswa syr la wat. 

vwasi dez wazo nwa:r pur 

3apErswa trwa vwal a 1 west. 

dybwa fst il la mwaso sa 


73. This sound, generally named ' yod ' by phoneticians, 
is simply the English y in such words as yet, yes, lawyer, etc. 
For its proper enunciation, the tongue rises so high in the 
front that the breath cannot pass without friction. It is 
this friction, added to the vocal effort, that constitutes the 
sound. It is always found in ordinary spelling as i, I, or y, 
and may occur initially, medially, or finally. 

74. (i) When occurring initially, the pronunciation of 
* or y is generally [j], as in ionique, iota, iule, etc. In a few 
words, however, it hesitates between [i] and [j], and there is 
consequent indecision in the number of syllables. Thus, 
hiatus is generally pronounced with [i], and consists of three 
syllables [i-a-tyis], but often it takes [j] and has only two 
[ja-tyis]. The same may be said of hyene, yeuse, and one 
or two other words. Even such a common word as hier is 
not always sounded with [j]. Thus, one hears often la soiree 
d'hier [la sware di-sir], with two syllables, and avant-hier 
[avatisir] with four, and this, indeed, has been regarded as 
the proper pronunciation of hier since the sixteenth century. 
The prefix hier-, however, takes [j], as hier archie [jerarji], 
hieroglyphe [jeroglif]. 

75. (2) When medial : In old French the letter i after an 
r ov I was a semi-consonant [j] or a vowel [i] according to the 
etymology of the word. Thus, un sanglier, un ouvrier, were 
pronounced with [j], but marier, vous liez, with [i]. To-day 
etymology is no longer a ruling factor, and the French use 
[j] when there is a vowel before r or 1, and [i] when 
there is a consonant. Thus, they say with [j], marier 
[marje], vous liez [vu Ije], nous voulions [nu vuljo], la liaison 
[la Ij8z5] ; but with i, sanglier [saglie], ouvrier [uvrie], vous pliez 
[vuplie], nous rdclions [nu raklio], une mauvaise liaison [liezo]. 



In verse, which is regulated in French principally by the 
number of syllables, this rule is not always adhered to. Prose, 
e.g. makes no difference between nous passions and les 
passions, while verse puts [j] in the first [pasjo], and [i] in the 
second [pasio]. Similarly, prose puts [j] in such words as 
lion, ambition, emotion, epie, odieux [lj5, abisjo, emosjo, epje, 
odj0], while verse puts [i] in them and thus lengthens the 
number of syllables ([lio], etc.). For such variations from 
prose rules, reference should be made to treatises on 

76. The combination -ill is common both in the body of 
a word and at the end. When following a vowel, it is simply 
pronounced [j], as travailler [travaje], taillis [taji], hdillon 
[bajo], paille [paij], feuille [foeij] ; ^ but when following a 
consonant it takes the sound [ij], as pillage [pijai3], brillant 
[brija], bille [biij]. In the latter case there are some excep- 
tions, in which II is pronounced [1] (see § 115). 

77. The letter y between two vowels becomes i-i. The 
first i combines with the preceding vowel, and the second 
is pronounced [j]. Thus, rayon becomes rai-ion, i.e. [rejo] ; 
royaume becomes roi-iaume [rwajoim] ; and soyons becomes 
soi-ions [swajo]. 

On the same principle [j] tends to introduce itself between 
i and another vowel, as prier [pri-je], nous prions [prijo], 
prieur [prijoeir], triage [trijaij], crions [krijo], etc. 

78. When final : The termination -il after a vowel is 
pronounced [j], as travail [travaij], pareil [pareij], deuil [doeij]. 
The letter I in linceul takes the same sound as a rule [lesoeij]. 
In such words, instead of final [j], some people utter some- 
thing like [i], short and rapid, or even nothing at all. Thus, 
soleil becomes [solsii] or [solei] instead of [solsij]. Others, 
again, sound [jo], adding an e mute to the ' yod ' and thus 
putting another syllable to the word, which is the other 
extreme. These are mistakes and care should be taken to 
sound the [j] correctly, without either neglecting it or 
exaggerating it. 

79. The pronoun y, or i at the end of small unstressed 

1 In those cases where -ill is followed by i and another vowel, the 
two ' yods ' unite into one, as bailliage [baja:3], joaillier [3waje], 
medaillier [medaje]. 



words such as qui, si, frequently becomes [j] in rapid speech 
before another vowel, as fa y est [saje], Ihomme qui est Id 
[kjela], 5^' on veut [sj5v0]. But whenever the y or i becomes 
stressed, it retains its pure sound, as qui est Id [kiela] ? 



lonique, iota, hyacinthe, yeux, 
yacht, yole, Yolande 

ionik, jota, jase:t, J0, jak, 
jol, jola:d 


Encrier, tablier, prendriez, crier, 
priere, triage, oublier, etrier 

akrie, tablie, prfidrie, krie, 
prieir, tria:3, ublie, etrie 

Soulier, sciure, liane, petiot, 
piano, pion, comptiez, moitie, 
bien, j&er 

sulje, sjy:r, Ijan, patjo, 
pjano, pj3, kotje, mwatje, 
bje, fj8:r 

Mouiller, veiller, cuiller, veuillez, 
piller, billet, sillon, griller 

muje, V8je, kqiJ8:r, voeje, 
pije, bij8, sij3, grije 

Balayer, effrayer, noyer, noyons 

bal8je, efreje, nwaje, nwajo 


Bail, corail, email, reveil, vieil, 
conseil, accucil, orgueil, cer- 

ba:j, koraij, ema:j, reve:j, 
vj8!j, koseij, akceij, orgoeij, 

Assieds-toi pr^s des hyacinthes. 
Julien et sa famille sont idiots. 
Le chien qui aboyait est a Pierre. 
Tiens bien tous ces diamants. 
J'ai paye la viande hier. 

asjetwa pre de jaseit. 
3ylj8 e sa fami:j sot idjo. 
io JJ8 ki abwaje et a pje:r. 
tje bje tu se djama. 
3e peje la vjaid jeir. 


80. This is the sound [y] when it comes before another 
vowel (it generally comes before i). The lips and tongue 
are disposed exactly as for [y], but the vocal apparatus passes 
immediately and smartly to the vowel which follows, as 
suis [sqi], nuage [ni[ai3], muei [mqe]. The beginner finds 
some difficulty in producing this sound, being apt to dwell 
too much upon the [y], thus making two syllables, instead 
of combining them as one. Let him try to articulate the 
[y] rapidly, shortening it as it were, and concentrating his 
thought on the next vowel from the beginning. In this way 
he will, with persistent practice, insure a good pronunciation 
of [q], with both vowels linked into one syllable. The sound 
is specially difficult after r, and constant repetition is needed, 
as in ruisseau [rqiso], bruit [hTqi], fruit [frqi].^ 

Referring to the triangle in § 103, it will be seen that [q] 
is reaUy the mixed sound between [j] and [w], i.e. it is 
[j] pronounced with lips rounded and projected as for [w]. 
This idea may help the beginner towards its correct enuncia- 
tion in some words at least, where [q] can be so pronounced 
without much difficulty, e.g. puis, nuit, suite, suivre, fuir, etc. 

The main fault with English speakers is to pronounce 
[q] carelessly as [w]. Lui becomes [Iwi], identical with 
Louis, thus confusing two distinct French sounds. The fault 
is very common, and is due to making the first sound [u], 
instead of [y] or rounded [j]. 

81. In cases where the letter y comes between the two 
sounds (as in appuyer), it divides as usual (§ 78) into i-i, 

* In many cases where the u is preceded by two or more different 
consonants, it remains a distinct vowel, as obstruer [opstrye], concluant 
[koklya], ftuide [flyid], druide [dryid], etc. But it has become a semi- 
consonant in bruit, fruit, autrui, pluie, truie, truite, detruire, instruire, 
construire, and a few other cases. In duo it is a full vowel [dyo]. 



as appui-ier, which is thus pronounced [apqije]. Other 
examples are : essuyer [es\j^]e],fuyard [fqijair], tuyau [tipjo]. 
Some French people, however, are content with one i in 
some words of this kind, especially where the sound follows 
[r]. Thus, hruyamment becomes simply bru-iamment, i.e. 
[bryjama], so that instead of the difficult group [qij] we have 
merely [yj]. The same remark applies to hruyant [bryja], 
bruyere [bryjeir], gruyere [gryjeir], etc. Even tuyau, tuyere 
are frequently [tyjo], [tyjeir]. 

82. The combinations gu- and qu-, which are pronounced 
[gq] and [kq] in some cases, are referred to under the con- 
sonants (§§ 157, 161). 



Buis, puits, puissant, tuile, muid, 
nuire, bruire, juin, aujourd'hui 

biji, pqi, pt[isa, tqil, mqi, 
niiiir, brqiir, 31^8,1 osurdqi 


Hultre, huile, huit, huissier 

qitr, qil, qi, qisje 

Nuee, remuer, situe, Su^de, per- 

nqe, ramqe, sitqe, sqed, 


Ruer, druide, ruisselant, truite 

rqe, drqid, rqisla, trqit 


Ennuyer, ecuyer, gruyer, Gruyere 

anqije, ekqije, gryje, gryjeir 

Les ennuyes fuient le bruit. 
11 cuit la truite aujourd'hui. 
lis ne conduisent pas des truies. 
Je suis aiguilleur depuis juin. 
Le bruit du niisseau m'ennuie. 

lez anqije fqi I9 brqi, 
il kqi la trqit 03urdqi. 
il na kodqiz pa de trqi. 
39 sqi egqijoe:r dapqi 3q£. 
la brqi dy rqiso manqi. 

^ The pronunciation [3W8] is frequently heard in Paris. 


83. Nasal (or nasalized) vowels are produced, as explained 
below, by lowering the soft palate, and thus allowing 
part of the sound to escape through the nose. In this 
way the resonance of the nose is added to that of the mouth. 
English has no such vowels, but in French the four vowels 
[a, 0, oe, 8] occur nasalized, being represented phonetically 
as [a, 5, oe, e]. 

84. In ordinary spelling they appear as vowels with n or 
m attached, but care must be taken not to sound the n or m, 
except where liaison is allowable. Thus, tante is [tait], not 
[taint]. Similarly, we have oncle [oikl], jardin [3ardE], humble 
[deibl], un hon vin blanc [de bo ve bla]. The pronunciation 
is exactly the same whether the next letter is n or m ', the 
words 7ion and nom, for example, are pronounced absolutely 

85. In regard to length, they are only short when final 
in pronunciation, as gant [go]. In all other cases they 
are either long or half-long, being long when under stress, 
as reponse [repois], and half-long when unstressed, as 
embaumer [a'bome]. For most practical purposes, however, 
' half -long ' may be regarded as short. 

86. It should be noted that there is no nasal sound in the 
following cases : 

(i) If m or n is followed by a vowel (in the same 
word),i as amour [amuir], animer [anime], colline [kolin]. 
Masculine adjectives ending with a nasal sound thus lose 
it in the feminine, which takes a different sound. For 
example, un [ce], une [yn] ; gamin [game], gamine [gamin] ; 

1 The reason for this is that, owing to the division of syllables, the 
morn goes with the following vowel. 


flein [pie], pleine [pie in] ; Parisien [parizje], Parisienne 
[parizjen]. Other examples : 

Followed by a vowel : Ami, image, homogene, synonyme, brume, 

promener, plume, Nanine. 
Feminines : Voisin, voisine; fin, fine; brun, brune; sain, 

saine ; prochain, prochaine ; Italien, Italienne ; ancien, 

ancienne ; doyen, doyenne. 

(2) If there are two m's or two n's together (in the 

same word), as gemmation [3emasjo], annee [ane], etrenne 
[etren], homme [om], dilemme [dilem]. Other examples : 

Nommer, comment, savamment, pommier, flamme, sonner, 
donner, anneau, honneur, renne, colonne, annales, Cinna. 

The prefix en- or em- (or rem-) is always nasal, however, 
whatever letter follows. A vowel after it, or the doubling 
of the n or m, does not change it. Thus, eni:prer, i.e. en-ivrer, 
becomes [anivre], the nasal sound being preserved and the 
n being carried forward in liaison, as in s'en alter (see § 102) ; 
and ennobtir, i.e. en-noblir, becomes [anobliir]. Similarly, 
we have enorgueillir [anorgoejiir], emmagasiner [amagazine], 
ennui [anqi], remmancher [ramaje], and many others.^ 

The prefix im- is nasal in the two words immangeable 
[8ma3abl], immanquahle [emdkabl]. 

(3) If m is followed by n (in the same word), as am- 
nistie [amnisti], somnambule [somnabyl], automnat [otomnal], 
gymnase [3imnaiz]. Other examples : 

Omnibus, calomnie, hymne, omnipotence, amnesic, somnolent. 
Exceptions are automne [oton], and damner [done] with its 

On the other hand, if n is followed by m, the nasal sound 
is retained, as in neanmoins [neamwe], ttnmes [teim], vtnmes 

(4) In many foreign, classical, and unfamiliar words,^ 

^ The em- is not nasal, however, in such words as Emmanuel, Emmaiis, 
enneagone, etc., where it is not the prefix. 

* This is specially the case with final m. Only a small number of 
such words have the nisal sound {dam, Adam, daim, faim, essaim, etaim, 
thym, nom (and compounds), dom, parfum), the rest having lost it since 
the seventeenth century. On the other hand, final n {-an, -en, -in {-ain, 
-ein, -oin), -on, -un) generally means a nasal sound, except in the 
terminations -en after a consonant (mostly foreign words or proper 


as Amsterdam [AmstErdam], interim [sterim], museum 
[myzeom], specimen [spesimen], decemvir at [dessmvira]. Other 
examples : 

Abraham, harem, item, Jerusalem, Kremlin [kremle], maximum, 
opium, Eden, lichen [liksn], gluten, dolmen, Siam, Bethleem, 
abdomen, Potsdam, macadam, rams [rams]. 


87. This matter is important, as nasals occur so frequently 
in French, and there is nothing to correspond to them in 
English. Sometimes there are sentences in which almost 
every vowel is a nasal, as Uenfant mange son pain sans 
mecontentement. So many false and absurd directions, too, 
on the subject are given in some books, that much misunder- 
standing exists. Some learners are taught to pronounce these 
vowels incorrectly as ordinary oral ones with the English -ng 
added to them. The pronunciation will be found to be sim- 
plicity itself, if the following explanation be grasped : 

Looking at the adjoining diagram, it will be noticed that 
the expiratory breath, on leaving the throat, has a double 
passage before it : it may pass either through the nose or 
the mouth. These two chambers are separated by a hori- 
zontal partition, called the palate, which forms the floor 
of the one and the roof of the other. The front portion of 
this partition is a bony, rigid structure,' known as the hard 

nouns), -man (particularly in English words), -in (in several foreign 
words or names), German names in -ein (except Mein), a few learned and 
foreign words in -on, and most English proper names in -son and -ton. 
Thus the sound is not nasal in the following and many others, in 
addition to examples given above : 

Amen, albumen, cerumen, cyclamen, gramen, rumen, pollen, 
hymen {except in rhyme sometimes), Aden, Baden, Carmen, Baylen, 
Dryden, Ibsen, Niemen, Yemen; alderman, clubman, gentleman, 
recordman, yeoman, policeman, sportsman, Ahriman, Flaxman, 
Wiseman, Wouverman ; djinn. Khamsin, muezin, Lohengrin {in 
music at least), gin {sometimes), Darwin, Erin, Elgin, Erwin, Stettin, 
Emin-Pacha, Robin Hood ; Holbein, Gerolstein, Rubinstein, Zoll- 
verein ; epsilon, omicron, sine qua non, megaron, baralipton, 
singleton, Byron, Lang-son, Satyricon ; Addison, Emerson, Hudson, 
Nelson, Tennyson, Fulton, Hamilton, Palmerston, Washington, 
Wellington, etc. 

Of all the words in -en after a consonant, of French or foreign origin, 
ex amen is practically the only one that has the nasal sound [egzamg]. 


palate (H). The back portion is composed of muscular 
tissue, soft and flexible, and is known as the soft palate 
or velum (S). This soft palate terminates in a conical body, 

Fig. I 

called the uvula, which hangs suspended from it. Now, it 
is evident from the diagram that the soft palate, with its 
attached uvula, forms a kind of curtain between the mouth 
and nose. Being very flexible, it can be raised or lowered 
at will, and the passage into the nose can be closed or opened 
accordingly. There are three possibilities indeed : 

(i) The velum may be lowered right down towards the 
tongue. In this case the air is prevented from entering the 
mouth and is sent through the nasal passage. This is the 
way taken by the breath in ordinary respiration when we 
shut the mouth and breathe through the nose : the velum 
descends of its own accord, and the air passes to the back 
of it. It is also the way taken in the pronunciation of m, n, 
and English -ng, for in m the air is stopped by the closing 
of the lips from passing out of the mouth, in n by the tip of 
the tongue on the hard palate, and in -wg by the back of the 


tongue rising up to meet the soft palate, the air in each case 
being directed into the nose. It is thus possible to produce 
sound in this way, but in such cases we have a nasal one 

(2) The velum may be raised and pressed back against 
the pharynx wall (PP). In this way the passage into the 
nose is closed, and the air is forced to pass through the mouth. 
This is the position of the soft palate during mouth breathing, 
and also during the articulation of all English vowels and 
all consonants except the three just mentioned. This may 
easily be verified. Let the student hold a mirror before his 
mouth in a good light, so as to see well into the inside. Let 
him take in breath through the nose with the mouth open, 
and then let it out forcibly through the mouth. When taking 
the breath in, it wiU be noticed that the velum descends 
towards the tongue, while in giving the breath out, if done 
sharply, the velum will be seen to rise. 

(3) The velum may be lowered sufficiently to allow 
both passages to be utilized at the same time. In this 
case the way into the nose and that into the mouth are both 
free, some of the air being deflected into each. The resonance 
of the nose is thus added to that of the mouth, so that we have 
nasal resonance together with the ordinary sound, and this 
is what takes place in the production of the French 
nasal vowels. The velum is not completely lowered, but 
sufficiently to allow part of the sound into the nasal cavity. 
It is evident that any vowel can thus be nasalized, but in 
French only the four already mentioned are thus affected. 
The sounds [a] and [5] require good nasal resonance, while 
[de] and [e] require less. In the case of purely oral sounds, 
the velum may sometimes fall a trifle, and a little air passes 
into the nose. This is what frequently happens in Portuguese 
and in American English. Some Americans indeed produce 
a definite nasal twang which does not belong to pure English. 
A slight increase of ordinary nasal resonance is all that is 
required for the two latter sounds. 

88. There are some methods of developing the nasal vowel 
sound in the case of those learners who find it difficult : 

(i) Humming should be tried, for here the velum is 
lowered and the air passes through the nose. Sustain a 
humming tone for a couple of seconds ; then all at once, without 


stopping the tone or moving the velum, open the mouth and 
sound [a]. It has the same effect as singing very softly the 
syllable [ma], the nasal vibration being distinctly felt. After- 
wards, on the same pitch hum [n], and again sing very softly 
the syllable [na]. Practise this exercise on various tones, 
changing occasionally to the vowel [5]. 

(2) The changing of [b] into [m] lowers the velum. 
For [b], the velum is raised high, and touches the back of the 
pharynx wall, and all the breath employed thus escapes by 
the mouth only. For [m], the position of the lips and tongue 
is approximately the same, but the velum descends, so that 
the breath passes through the nose only. The same is the 
case with [d] and [n]. In the production of a nasal vowel, 
therefore, all that is needed is the same treatment that changes 
[b] into [m], or [d] into [n]. 

In practising the nasal sounds, the sensation connected 
with the fall of the velum should be carefully noted, so that 
it may be produced at will. No effort is needed to lower 
the velum : it is done almost or quite unconsciously when 
the sensation of its movement becomes familiar. 

89. A common fault with beginners is to sound the vowel 
as a pure oral one, and then add the English nasal consonant 
-ng (phonetic sign [r)]) to it. Thus, we have such ridiculous 
pronunciations as ' ahngfahng ' [agfar)] for enfant, * tahngt ' 
[tagt] for tante, ' bong ' [borj] for hon. This fault is largely 
due to misleading directions in grammars and other books, 
whose writers fix upon -ng as the nearest English nasal sound, 
hoping that it will give some idea of the pronunciation. For 
the production of -ng the tongue rises up at the back towards 
the velum, thus shutting off the mouth and sending the sound 
into the nose. It is therefore a nasal consonant, like m and n, 
but it is practically unknown in the French language, and 
its addition to a vowel does not make that vowel a nasal one. 
What happens is that we have two consecutive sounds, viz. 
a pure oral vowel followed by a pure nasal consonant. In 
other words, the current of sound commences to pass solely 
through the mouth, and then finishes by passing solely through 
the nose. In some books the learner is counselled not to 
pronounce the -ng fully, but this direction does not alter the 
matter, as we still have a pure oral vowel with the semblance 
of a nasal consonant at the finish. It should be clearly 


understood that the French nasals cannot be properly produced 
in this way : they require nasahty throughout their whole 
duration, and not added at the end. The nasality com- 
mences with the first vibration of the vowel and finishes 
with the last. 

90. Another fault, even with some Frenchmen, is to sound 
the n or m which follows in the ordinary spelling. This was 
the correct pronunciation in olden times, and it still lurks 
in certain dialects, especially in the south of France ; but not 
the slightest trace of these consonants should now appear 
in the pronunciation so far as correct Parisian or northern 
French is concerned. The fault is specially noticeable in the 
following cases : 

(i) When n comes before d or t, as in ianfe, plante, viande. 
The tendency to sound the n here is due to the fact that n 
takes approximately the same tongue position as <^ or ^ (viz. 
tip of tongue against front of palate), the only difference 
being that n requires the velum down. In getting ready, 
therefore, to sound the ^ or ^ while the velum is still lowered 
for the nasal vowel, there is an easy tendency to sound the n. 

(2) When m comes before b or p, as in lampe, ombre, 
jamhon. Here the same cause operates, for m requires the 
closing of the lips, and this is precisely the position for h or p, 
the only difference being that in m the velum is lowered. In 
thinking, therefore, of 6 or ^ too soon, while the velum is still 
down for the nasal vowel, there is a tendency to sound the m. 

(3) When n comes before c (k) or g, as in encore, enclos, 
anglais. Here the n is apt to become -ng, as this takes the 
same tongue position as k or g, with the difference that it has 
the velum down. 

The remedy in all these cases is to finish the nasal vowel 
before beginning to pronounce the following consonant, i.e. 
the velum must be raised before the consonant is sounded. 
As a help such words should be practised in separate syllables 
as van-ter, sen-tir, jam-bon, en-core. 

The Nasal [a] 

91. This vowel is the nasalized form of [a], i.e. the mouth 
is wide open as for the ordinary vowel, but the velum hangs 
down to permit the entrance of sound into the nose. Many 


French speakers put a touch of [o] into the sound by making 
the point of articulation intermediate between [a] and [o]. 
In emphatic or affected speech, indeed, and frequently among 
children, [a] may tend to become full [5] . 

It is represented in ordinary spelling by an, am, en, em, 
aon, aen (or aen), as plan [plci], plante [plait], champ [fa], 
gens [3a], temps [ta],faon [fa], Caen [ka]. In one or two cases, 
however, aon is pronounced [ao], as Lycaon [likao], Pharaon 
[farao] ; and before [n] it becomes [a], as faonner [fane], 
paonne [pan], paonneau [pano], Laonnais [lans], Craonne 
[kran]. In Jean the e is mute [3a]. 

92. Owing to the variety of spelling referred to, many words 
with [a] are pronounced the same, though written differently 
(Homonyms) . Thus we have : 

Sang, sans, sens, sent, cent, e'en, s'en (all pronounced [sd]). 
Tan, tant, taon, tend, tends, temps, t'en (all pronounced [ta]). 

The Nasal [5] 

93. This is not exactly the nasalized form of [o], but rather 
of middle [0], that is, a vowel intermediate between [o] and 
[o] (see § 51 (2)). Indeed, some phoneticians would prefer 
to write it [6]. But all that is needed is to round and pro- 
ject the lips a little more than for [o], while at the same 
time lowering the velum. Careful practice of this will soon 
give the correct sound. 

94. The two vowels [a] and [5] should be clearly dis- 
tinguished from each other. Many beginners fail to do this : 
they pronounce both of them incorrectly, replacing them by 
a fully open [o] nasalized. For [a] the tongue lies flat, and 
the mouth is wide open, while for [5] the tongue rises a little 
to the back, and the lips are closer and rounded. If these 
characteristics are remembered, there should be no confusion. 

95. The nasal [5] is represented in the current spelhng by 
on, om; and also by un, um in foreign or borrowed words, 
as conte [koit], nom [no], lumbago [lobago], jungle [30igl], 
junie [30 it]. 

The Nasal [e] 

96. The sound [e] is really [se] nasalized, and ought to have 
a special symbol (not [§]), but as there is no advantage in 


having too many symbols, [e] is used by phoneticians. The 
[ae] is the Southern English or American (not Scotch) 
sound of a in such words as man, mad, rat, etc. Those who 
have heard the query, " Cab, sir ? " in an English town will 
remember the sound of the a. It is neither [c] nor [a], but 
intermediate between. It is almost unknown in Scotland, 
but is the common sound of close [a] in most parts of south 
England and of America. The sound [e] is exactly the nasalized 
form of this English [se]. Some students find it diihcult 
to produce it, and are inclined to sound either pure [e] or 
go to the other extreme and sound [a], but if they will take 
advantage of the many opportunities of picking up the sound 
of the English or American [^e], all they have to do is to give 
it a little tenseness and nasalize it. 

97. It occurs in spelling in a great variety of forms — 
wherever there is an i or y followed by w or m. Therefore in, 
im, yn, ym, ain, aim, ein, eim, are all pronounced [c], as fin 
[fs], impot [epo], synthase [seteiz], nymphe [neif], main [me], 
faim [fe], plein [pie], Rheims [reis]. Similarly, the syllable 
-oin becomes [we], as loin [Iwe], poing [pwe], coin [kwe], 
poinie [pweit]. 

98. The variety of spellings, as in the case of [a], gives rise 
to numerous homonyms, as : 

Sain, saint, sein, seing, ceins, ceint, cinq (all pronounced [se]). 
Vin, vins, vint, vingt, vain, vainc, vaincs {all pronounced [ve]). 
Tin, tins, tint, tain, teins, taint, thym {all pronounced [te]). 

99. The nasal sound -en at the end of a syllable is pro- 
nounced [e] (not [a]) in the following cases : 

(i) In the terminations -ien, -yen, -een, as hien [bje], cJiien 
[Jje], pa'ien [paje], citoyen [sitwaje], chaldien [kaldee]. 
Derivatives follow the same rule, as hienjaisant [bjef9za], 
hientot [bjeto], etc. 

(2) In certain tenses of venir and tenir, with their deriva- 

tives, as viens [vje], viendrai [vjedre], tiens [tje], maintien 

(3) In many foreign words/ as appendice [apedis], benzine 

[bezin], examen [egzame], menthol [metol], peniateuque 

^ The reason for this is that the syllable -en, in becoming ' Frenchified,' 
can only do so directly by [e], the sole nasal corresponding to e. 


[pEtat0ik], and all other words from Greek TrsvTt (except 
pentecote [pdtkoit] Also in Saini-Ouen [setwe], and many 
proper names, especially in -ens where the s is sounded, as 
Martens, Camoens, Saint-Gaudens, etc. 

In all other cases the syllable -en preserves the [a] sound, 

as client [klici], orient [orja], expedient [ekspedja], audience 

The Nasal [de] 

100. The oral vowel [oe] is [e] with the lips rounded, but 
the nasal [de] is a little more open : it is really the nasal 
[se], i.e. [e], with the lips rounded, and may thus be placed 
in the middle of the triangle opposite [se] (see triangle, § 102). 
Properly speaking, it should not be represented phonetically 
by the sign [de], but phoneticians have adopted this sign 
as representing the nearest French sound. To produce it 
correctly, all that is needed is either to nasalize [oe], making 
it at the same time a little more open, or to sound the 
nasal [e] with lips a little rounded and pushed out. It is not 
a sound of frequent occurrence in French, apart from the 
article un. In ordinary spelling it is represented by un or 
um, as hrun [brde], parfum [parfde]. It also occurs as eun 
in a jeun [a 306], and in Meung [mde]. 

101. Liaison. — Sometimes a final n (never m), indicating 
nasality, is carried forward in liaison, i.e. it is pronounced 
before the next word if this begins with a vowel or h mute 
(see Chapter XXXIII). But it is so sounded only in ad- 
jectives followed by a noun (e.g. commun accord) ; in mon, 
ton, son ; and in en, on, un, rien, bien (and sometimes combien), 
when there is a direct connection between these words 
and the next, as in il en a, en Italic, on apprend [ilana, anitali, 
onapra].^ In such cases the vowel occasionally loses a little 
of its nasality. The vowel -ain [e] in adjectives is the most 
subject to this phenomenon, and frequently loses all the 
nasality, the sound heard being that of the feminine ([e]), 
as certain auteur [ssrtEU otoeir], un mien ami [de mJEU ami]. 
Similarly, we have un vain espoir, un ancien usage, un vilain 
enfant, en plein air, le moyen age, au prochain avertissement, 

^ There is no liaison, therefore, in such expressions as vain et faux, 
ancien et demode, bon a rien, bon a tirer, un ou deux, un et un font deux, 
run est venu, parlez-en a voire pere, a-t-on et^, rien ou peu de chose, nous 
sommes bien ici, bien et vite, etc. 


etc. The vowel [5] loses all its nasality in bon, as un bon 
eleve [de bon eleiv]. Compare bonheur, bonkomme. In the 
case of words ending in -in, denasalization only occurs with 
divin, particularly in the expression divin enfant, the sound 
here being also that of the feminine [divin dfa]. It is found 
frequently, too, in such phrases as divin Achille, divin Ulysse, 
divin Homere, etc. But in all other cases the nasal sound is 
retained in the liaison, as malin esprit [malen Espri], fin esprit 
[fen espri], etc. In the case of words in -un, denasalization, 
once common, is now unknown, and we consequently have un 
homme [oen om], un ami [den ami], un un [cen ce], un a un 
[den a de], Vun et V autre [Iden e loitr], aucun homme [okden om], 
chacun un [Jakden de]. The words en, on, rien, bien, combien 
are never denasalized, doubtless owing to the fact that they 
cannot have a feminine, as je n'en ai pas [39 ndn e pa], on a 
dit [on a di], rien a dire [rjen a diir], bien aimable [bjen emabl], 
combien avez-vous de . . .? [kobjgn avevu da . . . ?]. 
The modern tendency is to denasalize as little as possible, 
owing no doubt to the perpetual confusions that would result 
between the masculine and feminine forms, although many 
outstanding teachers prefer denasalization as more in line with 
the development of the language. Such words as an-nee, 
solen-nel, ardem-ment, etc., were once nasal. 

102. The vowel triangle may now be fully constructed as 
follows. Sounds not occurring in English are marked with an 

(Semi-consonant) f 4.* (Semi-consonont;w 

(Clo^)l y", _ (Clos^u 

COp^n)i (Cbeh)a 

(Cl>se)e ^* ,(Cljk)o 

(Middle) e (Middle; 0, 

(^p^t CZ* (Open}0 

(More open; 2B,l^~C£* .(More6per:)c(atin"aubi'rwol'J 

(Obsc) a 

(Twiddle) ^ 






Emmailloter, emmancher, em- 

Enamourer, ennuyer, enhardir 

amajote, amaje, amenase 
anamure, anqije, aardiir 


Chanter, conte, dente, lenteur, 
aimante, teinte, saintete, 

Grandeur, ronde, peindre, con- 

Jate, k5:t, date, latoeir, 
emate, teit, sstte, fo:t 

gradceir, r3:d, psidr, kotreidr 


Embl^me, nombreux, plom- 
beux, ombre 

Impossible, empreindre, lam- 
piste, un peu 

ablEim, n3br0, pl3b0, o:br 
eposibl, apreidr, lapist, oe p0 


Bancal, encre, vaincre, encourir 
Sangiot, anglican, engloutir, 

bakal, a:kr, vEikr, akuriir 
saglo, aglika, agluti:r, agase 






Banc, quand, blanche, change, 

Tambour, camp, rampe, Gam- 
betta, Adam 

Henri, Rouen, mentir, parent, 

Temps, temple, empire, Luxem- 

Paon, taon, Laon, Craon, Saint- 
Saens, Jordaens 

ba, ka, blaij, Ja:3, raidr 
tabuir, ka, ra:p, gabeta, ada 
ari, rwa, matiir, para, ta:t 
ta, taipl, api;r, lyksabuir 
pa, ta, la, kra, sesais, 3orda:s 


un j 

Ton, vont, long, onction, bonte 
Nom, plomb, pompe, combler, 

Cumberland, Humboldt, punch, 


to, v3, 13, 3ksj3, bote 
n3, pl3, p3:p, koble, pro 

k3b£ria:d, 3bol, p3:J, s9g3do 





Vin, vinmes, grincer, instinct, 

Impur, timbre, simple, Edim- 

Lynx, syntaxe, syndic, syncope 
Cymbale, Olympe, thym, sym- 

Bain, maint, vaincs, contraindre 
Daim, essaim, Paimboeuf 
Sein, peintre, feinte, rein, teint 

V8, veim, grese, sste, sfeiks 

epyir, teibr, ss:pl, edgbuir 

l£:ks, sgtaks, ssdik, sekop 
sebal, ole:p, te, sepati 

hi, me, vg, k3tre:dr 

de, 8S8, psbcef 

S8, pe:tr, fs:t, rg, tg 


Joindre, pointe, poindre, lointain 

3wg:dr, pwgit, pweidr, Iwetg 



Lien, vaurien, Julien, bohemien, 
paien,moyen, doyen, europeen 

IJE, vorJE, 3ylje, boemje, 
paje, mwajs, dwaje, oeropce 


Benjoin, vendetta, crescendo, 
blende, spencer, agenda, 
memento, pensum, Benjamin, 
benzine, mentor, Rubens, 

be3W8, vedeta, kresedo, 
bleid, sp£ss:r, a3Eda, 
memeto, pesom, bssame, 
bEzin, mstoir, rybgis, bggal 


Lundi, aucun, alun, tribun, 

Humble, Humbert, emprunt, 


loedi, okoe, al&, triboe, defde 
de:bl, oebEir, aprde, aprdete 

Le commandant entre dans le camp. 
Jean plante sa tente devant le banc. 
Ton oncle chante la seconde chanson. 
Nous allons compter nos compagnons. 
Cinq gamins vinrent joindre 1 essaim. 
Le nain a besoin de pain : il a faim. 
Chacun emprunte humblement a quel- 

Quelques-uns des tribuns sont k jeun. 

l9 komada a:tr9 da la ka. 
3a pla:t sa ta:t dava la ba. 
ton 5:kl9 Ja:t la S9g5:d Jaso. 
nuz al3 kote no kopapo. 
S£ gamg vE:r 3W£:dr9 Iese. 
I9 UE a b9zwE d9 pe : il a ie. 
Jakde aproeit oebbma a kelkde. 

kElkazce de triboe sot a 306. 

Quand le Hun en entend le son, il craint. 
Le gar9on est tombe jusqu'au fond. 
Ton enfant a bon nombre de dents. 
Le parent vient d'entrer dans la maison. 
Jean de Meung, 6crivain fran9ais, est 

Ma tante lave son linge dans la fontaine. 
Elle emmene un enfant de quinze ans. 
Pendant longtemps nous manquons de 

Le chien mange entierement la viande. 
Les olympiens sont importuns. 

ka l9 de an ata I9 s3, il kre. 
I9 gars 3 £ tobe 3ysko fo. 
ton afa a bo n3:br9 d9 da. 
I9 para vjg d atre da la mezo. 
3a d9 mde, ekrive frasE, e 

ma ta:t la:v so l£:3 da la fotEU. 
El amEU den afa d9 ks:z a. 
pada lota nu mako d9 savo. 

la Jjg ma:3 atJErma la vja:d. 
lez olgpJE sot gportde. 


103. All sounds may be continued for a longer or shorter 
time, independent of the rate of speaking as a whole, and 
without altering their timbre or nature. This property of 
sounds is known as Duration or Quantity. In this chapter 
we concern ourselves only with the vowels, and divide them 
generally into short and long", with special references to those 
that may require half-length. By a short vowel we mean 
one pronounced in the shortest time possible, practically 
instantaneously, while a long vowel is one ' drawn out ' to 
some extent and thus occupying an appreciable time. In 
both cases, however, the actual nature of the vowel remains 
the same. 

104. It is difficult to lay down hard and fast rules on this 
subject, as the length of the vowels depends frequently on 
the context, on the emotions of the speaker, on the stress 
caused by the tonic accent or by emphasis, and on many 
other conditions. The following rules, which cover the 
majority of cases, will be found sufficient : 

(i) The close [e], and the mute [3] are usually short. 

Thus etc [ete], les [le], le nez [b ne], peser [paze], rep He [repete], 
all contain short vowels. The only occasions when [e] and 
[9] become long are when they receive the Emphatic Stress 
(§ 215), in which case mute e becomes [oe]. Thus mechantf 
[meija], je [306] te nourrirai. The pronoun le also becomes 
lengthened when it receives the Tonic Accent, which it does 
immediately after an imperative, as je le dis [39ldi], but dis-le 

(2) All final vowels are short, even though circumflexed 
in ordinary spelling. By a final vowel is meant one that 


terminates the pronunciation of a word. There may be a 
written consonant after it, but if this is not sounded, the 
vowel is spoken of as final, and is short. Thus, the vowel 
is short in lit [li], tres [trs], has [ba], trop [tro], tot [to], bout 
[bu], genet [39ns], mat [ma] ; in circumflexed verbal end- 
ings, as aimdt [sma], 'fit [fi], regut [rasy] ; and similarly 
in the final syllables of the following : beaucoup [boku], 
objet [ob38], frangais [frase], resolu [rezoly], chapeau [fapo], 
profond [prof 5]. 

As English final vowels are generally long and thus differ 
from French ones, the student should be on his guard. The 
English words lea and toe, for example, are by no means the 
same as the French lit and tot, however much the latter may 
be stressed. 

If the vowel is followed by e mute, to signify the feminine, 
sometimes it is given a slight lengthening (denoted phonetic- 
ally by one dot), as venue [vdny], fermee [fermc], amie [ami']. 
This is done in certain districts, such as Switzerland, and a 
little everywhere in emphatic declamation or sentimental 
utterance (e.g. ma hien-aimee), but beyond this the addition 
of e mute makes practically no difference in the length of 
final vowels. Thus, venu and venue, alle and allee, donne 
and donnee are pronounced the same. There may be a slight 
shade of difference in stress, the feminines having the accent 
more firmly on the final syllable, but in regard to Duration 
there is practically no distinction in ordinary speech. If 
the French desire to draw special attention to the feminine 
form of the word, they prefer to sound the e mute, as is 
generally done in poetry, rather than lengthen the final vowel. 
Thus, venue in such a case becomes [v9ny9] or even [v9nyoe], 
rather than [vany]. 

(3) The vowels [a, o, 0], and the four nasals are natur- 
ally long". It is only when final that they are pronounced 
short (in accordance with the rule just mentioned), as degdt 
[dega], rot [ro], bleu [bl0], gargon [garso]. Whenever they 
are non-final, that is, whenever they do not terminate the 
pronunciation of the word, they are as a rule either long or 
half-long, being long when stressed (either under the tonic 
accent or under emphasis), and half-long when unstressed.^ 

^ The vowel [a] perhaps conforms less to this rule than [o], [0], and 
the nasals. 



This is the case whether they are circumflexed or not. Hence 
these vowels are long (assuming them to be stressed) in pate 
[pait], tome [toim], meute [m0it], jeune [30in], danse [ddis], 
feinte [fgit], humble (deibl], blonde [bloid] ; while they are 
half-long (assuming them to be unstressed) in pate [pa'te], 
roser [ro'ze], jeuner [30 'ne], danseur [dd'soeir], peinture 
[pe'tyir], lundi [Ide'di], longueur [15'goeir].^ 

There are exceptions in words containing the group [-rwa-]. 
Some of these have the vowel [a] short, even though it is 
non-final. Thus, droite, adroite, etroite, froisse, froide, wide, 
paroisse have all short [a]. But apart from these exceptions, 
the group [-rwa-] maintains the [a] long, as croire [krwair], 
croise [krwaiz], crottre [krwaitr], etc. 

Exercise. — In the following table the vowels [a, o, 0], 
and the nasals are arranged in groups of short, long, and 
half -long. They should be read from left to right along 
the lines, and practised carefully till the right length is 




Short 1 Long 





Mat 1 sabre 





I Trepas Jeanne 





1 Appas 1 Jacque 





1 Idiot 












1 Anneau 






1 Deux 






i Gueux 












i Jean 


















' Done 


















' Main 






; Vin 






\ Atteint 






i Parfum 









^ Half-length is not marked as a rule in this manual, but is included 
in ' short.' 


(4) In regard to the remaining seven vowels [i, e, a, 0, 

u, y,. oe], note the following rules : 

I. When they receive the Tonic Accent, that is, when 
they are in the final syllable of a stress group, they are long 
if followed by a lengthening consonant. The lengthening 
consonants are the voiced fricatives^ [v, z, 3, j] and final [r] 
(which means an r that terminates the pronunciation of a word). 
Thus, these vowels are long in cave [kaiv], pensive [pasiiv], 
cerise [s9riiz], trapeze [trapeiz], plage [plai3], college [kol8i3], 
soleil [solsij], feuille [foeij], gloire [glwair], vert [veir], aime-je 

Under this section, however, the following qualifications 
require to be added : 

(a) These vowels are not only long before final [r], but 
sometimes also (especially in poetry) ^ when the [r] is pre- 
ceded by a voiced plosive [b, d, g], as in negre, aigre_, 
vinaigre, maigre, pegre, cedre, Phedre, etc. They are almost 
always long in the termination -evre, as levre, orfevre, plevre, 
Sevres, Lefevre, etc. But if the r is followed by another 
sounded consonant, even a lengthening one, the vowel becomes, 
short, as in cirque, myrte, term, alerte, meurtre, absurde, 
marge, carte, charge, larve, serve, marbre, porte, lourde, ours 
[urs], etc. 

(b) In Paris at least, if the vowel is followed by [b, d, 
or g] alone, without [r], it is frequently sounded a little 
long, as gUbe [glsib], plebe [plsib], robe [roib], dogue [doig], 
aide [eid], il plaide [pleid]. The reason is that the resonance 
which precedes the sound of a voiced consonant retards the 
explosion of it and renders the vowel a little long. Perhaps 
* half-length ' best describes these cases. 

(c) The vowel is long in tous [tuis], and veule [voe:l], 
these two words being distinguished in pronunciation from 
tousse [tus], and veulent [voel]. The words coule, route, ecroule 

1 See § 107. 

^ There should, of course, be only one pronunciation both in prose 
and poetry, but the difficulty sometimes of finding rhymes leads to a 
poetic licence ; e.g. finals with a grave accent are frequently rhymed 
with those having a circumflex, as creche with preche, centieme with 
Boheme, penetre with fenetre, etc. This is largely due to the fact that 
long or circumflexed finals are not so numerous as the others. In 
ordinary conversation most people would pronounce -ehre, -edre, -egre, 
etc., fairly short. 


are also regarded as having a long [u] in careful speech, 
but in a familiar phrase like ga route bien, where the tonic 
accent is on bien, the vowel [u] is not any longer than in 

2. When these vowels receive the Tonic Accent, but 
are followed by a consonant other than a lengthening 
one, they are generally short, as time [lim], sate [sal], renne 
[rsn], sotte [sot], bouche [buj], minute [minyt], neuf [nc^i]. 

But the following exceptions of importance should be 
noted : 

(a) These vowels, if circumflexed, are, generally speaking, 
long, as tete, bete, chaine, maitre, dottre, abmie, etc.^ At 
the same time this is by no means a fixed rule, as there 
are numerous examples of the opposite. Thus, the circum- 
flexed vowel is generally short in etes (especially when un- 
stressed), arrete, pele-mele, gUe, Ue, epUre, dime, dine, flute, 
buche, croute, voute, as well as in nous eumes, vous eutes, and 
verbal endings {-dmes, -dtes, -imes, -ites, etc.). 

(b) When one of these vowels precedes a sounded s 
in the ordinary spelling (mostly Greek and Latin words), 
it is generally pronounced long, as Cortes [korteis], iris 
[iriis], Minos [minois], Brutus [brytyis]. At the same time, 
many educated people pronounce it short in such cases ; 
and it is generally short in jadis, cassis, mais, vis (a screw), 
sus, detritus, plus (in those cases where s is sounded), burnous, 
OS, es, etc. 

(c) The vowel [s] is nearly always long in the termina- 
tions -aisse, -aime, -erne, -ene, and sometimes in the 
terminations -aine, eine, as baisse [bsis], gr aisse [grsis], 
j'aime [3£im], theme [tsim], scene [sem], haine [em], reine 
[rem]. But exceptions are common, especially in the -aine 
group ; and altogether the vowel [e] before a non-lengthening 
consonant shows such considerable variation that few definite 
rules can be laid down. Some speakers make it long, others 
short in the same words. The principal thing is the timbre 
or essential quality, which remains invariably open. 

1 This is due to the fact that the circumflex accent almost always 
takes the place of a letter now discarded, generally an s, the presence 
of which lengthened the vowel. Thus, tete used to be spelt teste, 
fete wsLsfeste, etc. 



In some cases of [e], the Quantity is a means of distinguish- 
ing words from each other, as, for example : 






La greffe 



lis s'aiment 

le greffe 
ils s^ment 

Ils s'aident 
lis paraissent 
Scene, Seine 

ils cedent 
la paresse j 
saine (also long) i 
vaine ( „ „ ) 
laine ( „ „ ) 

Exercise. — ^The tables below contain the seven vowels re- 
ferred to, arranged as long and short. They should be practised 
both down the columns and along the lines, until the proper 
duration is acquired. Such practical vowel-exercises will not 
only ensure ease of production, but will enrich and amplify 
the tone : 

Long Vowels 






















































oil [o:j] 






oille [o:j] 



















Gratis, oasis, Clovis, bis (' twice '), Thalds, Ceres, alods, albatros, Argos, albinos, 
Paros, V^nus, Phebus, typhus, blocus, obus, r6bus, etc. 

Caisse, baisse, graisse, ^paisse, paraisse, laisse, abaisse, connaisse, paisse, etc. 
Also Grdce, Bo^ce, Lucrece, etc. (in sustained speech), cesse, presse, etc. 


Thdme, crfime, systSme, probl^me, emblSme, blaspheme, diad^me, th6ordme, 
Nicod^me, etc. 


Scene, ar^ne, sir^ne, ^b^ne, oxyg^ne, phenomene, obscene, hy^ne, indigene, 
Athdnes, M6c6ne, etc. 


Haine, gaine, aine, domaine, marraine, Maine, Lorraine, Touraine, etc. 
Veine, reine, Seine, pleine, etc. 


Poete, proph^te, Crete ; zele, hdle, st61e, Philom^le 

Short Vowels 





























! a 




Rome j 


couronne | 










commode t 


bloc 1 


drogue j 


etoffe 1 















j mule 
1 ecume 
1 hme 
I repugne 
! jupe 
i tube 
I chute 
I rude 
] due 

: conjugue 
! tuf 

j autruche 
I puce 





S6me, s^ment, deuxieme, troisidme, quatrifime, etc. 



M6ne, mdnent, egrtee, assene, etc. (and generally all verbal forms in -ener or -6ner) 
Hellenes, Helene, etc. 

Semaine, fontaine, plaine, chatelaine, douzaine, laine, bedaine, Sedaine, etc. 
Peine, haleine, Madeleine, veryeine, baleine, etc. 

3. When these seven vowels are unstressed, they are 
generally short, the pronunciation gliding easily and to 
some extent rapidly over them, as e.g. fhilosophique, muni- 
cipalite, politiquement, proiectorat. This is particularly so 
in closed syllables, whether the vowel be followed by a 
lengthening consonant or not, as corset, expulser, amnistie, 
colporteur, parfaitement. Hence we have/or^ [foir], but forcer 
[forse] ; dur [dyir], but durcir [dyrsiir] ; Jeuille [foeij], but 
Jeuilleton [foejto] ; il se leve [Isiv], but leve-toi [lev twa] ; poivre 
[pwaivr], but poivrier [pwavrie] ; car erne [kareim], but 
careme-prenant [karem prana]. This rule of course applies to 
all the closed syllables in a stress-group apart from the ac- 
cented one, inasmuch as a stress-group is one idea, and 
thus equivatlent to one word, as la vieille femme [lavjejfam], 
tous leurs journaux [tuloer3urno], ce nerf de hceuf [sanerdaboef], 
V amour propre [lamurpropr]. Such words as mime, brave, 
treize, honnete, naturally preserve their long vowel when at 
the end of a stress-group, as le bruit meme [msim], un homme 
brave [braiv], nous sommes treize [treiz], une fille honnete 


[oneit] ; but this vowel becomes sensibly short if the order 
of the words is changed, as le meme bruit [mem], tin brave 
soldat [brav], les treize gargons [trez], une honnete fille [onet]. 

In open pretonic syllables, on the other hand, especially 
if initial, these vowels incline to be half-long before the 
lengthening consonants [v, z, r]. Thus Paris [pa'ri], raison 
[re'zS], saisir [se^ziir], bureau [byro], pourrir [pu'riir] ,irons [i'ro], 
souffrira [sufri'ra], armoirie [armwa'rij, plaidoirie (pledwa'ri], 
etc. In heros the vowel is fully half-long [cro], while in 
heraut it is short [ero]. But even in these cases many 
speakers would regard the vowel as ' short,' and the student 
must beware against giving it too much length. 

In open syllables also (only in a few cases in closed 
ones) these vowels are generally half-long in those cases 
where they are long in the root-word or stem, i.e. where 
they are long when the same syllable is final. In such cases 
it is evident that the vowel, being long by nature, may lose 
its stress but cannot lose all its length. For example, the 
root-words vive and sur both have a long vowel according to 
rule. Consequently this vowel preserves some of its length 
in the derivatives, as vivant, vivacite, aviver, assure, surement, 
etc. Similarly, the vowel is long in the stem-words aime, 
naisse, pleur, clair, and so it maintains half-length in deriva- 
tives, as aimable [s'mabl], naissant [ue'sq], pleur er [ploe're], 
clairement [kls'rma].^ It should be noted, however, that the 
half-length disappears if the root-word ends in [3] or [j] 
(though these are lengthening consonants), as or age [orai3], 
but orageux [ora30] ; courage [kurai3], but courageux [kura30] ; 
fouille [fuij], hut fouiller [fuje]. 

The above cases of half-length in unstressed syllables do 
not form a large class comparatively, and many of them 
only occur in careful or impressive speech. It should be 
understood that in the case of these seven vowels the great 
majority of them, when unstressed, are pronounced short. 
Indeed, in the case of all vowels, the sound becomes the 

^ Examples of this rule are very common. Thus, from the root- 
words pierre, serve, terre, breve, we have half-long vowels in pierreux, 
empierrer, server, serrure, terreau, terrer, enterrer, brievement, brievete, 
etc. We may add adverbs in -erement (as fierement, amerement, etc.), 
many verbs in -iser, -ouser, etc., many in -rer (as murer, bourrer, fourrer, 
tourer, empirer, etc.), and most verbs in -eurer or -eurrer (as beurrer, 
disheurer, icoeurer, pleurer, leurrer, etc.). In verbs in -eurer or -eurrer 
the vowel is fairly long, except in demeurer, fleurer, effleurer. 


shorter the farther removed they are from the tonic or 
rhythmic Stress. Thus, the a of pate is shorter than that of 
pate, and the a of patisserie is shorter still than that of pate. 
The same difference is apparent in pdme, pdmer, pdmoison. 
Similarly aime is shorter in aime-t-il, where the accent is on il, 
than in il aime ; and etes is pronounced more lightly in pous 
etes fou than in fou que vous etes ! If there is any doubt as 
to the length of any unstressed vowel, let the student pro- 
nounce it short, and the chances are that he will be right. 

Emphasis may lengthen a vowel in a non-final syllable, 
but this is referred to in the chapter on Emphatic Stress. 


1. Pronounce carefully the following words containing half- 
long vowels in the pretonic or the root syllable : 

Tirer, curer, couvant, briser, trouver, cousant, fleurir, jurer, 
bravoure, couru, fetard, brulant, aine, maitresse, clarte, juge- 
ment, fraichement, rouler, couler, ecrouler, trainant, maigrir, 
aider, baisser, fraisier, tairez. 

2. Pick out any half-long vowels in the following list, 
giving the reason : 

Meunier, viendrai, insecte, embaumer, emmener, cousin, 
reposer, labourer, arriver, abreuver, montant, epaissir, 
montagne, raisin. 

3. Pronounce carefully, with special attention to Quantity, 
the following extract, the phonetic spelling of which is given 
below for reference : 

"Je me souviens qu'etant enfant, je m'etais forme des 
idees assez singuli^res du soleil et du ciel. Je croyais que le 
soleil se levait derriere une montagne et se couchait dans la 
mer, que le ciel etait une voute qui s'abaissait vers rhorizon, 
de sorte que je pensais que, si je parvenais j usque-la, je serais 
oblige de marcher courbe, sans quoi je me casserais la tete 
centre le firmament. J'entrepris un jour d'atteindre a 
I'extremite de la voute celeste ; apr^s avoir marche une 
heure, voyant qu'elle etait toujours a la meme distance de 
moi, j'en conclus qu'il y avait trop loin, mais je n'en restai 
pas moins persuade qu'elle existait, et que si je ne parvenais 



pas a la toucher, c'est que je n'avais pas d'assez bonnes jambes. 
Au reste, je me figurais, a la vue des etoiles, que le del etait 
perce d'une infinite de petits trous par ou la pluie tombait sur 
la terre, comme par un crible, et que les etoiles n'etaient que 
la lumi^re de Dieu, qui sortait, la nuit, par ces petits trous. 
Cette derniere idee n'etait pas si enfantine." — Bernardin de 

Phonetic Spelling^ 

39 m suvJE ketaafa, 39 mete forme dez ide ase ssgyljsir dy 
solsij e dy sjel. 39 krwajs k9 1 solsij S9 Ive derjeir yn motaji 
e s kuje da la msir, k9 1 sjsl etet yn vut ki sabess vEir brizo, 
d9 sort9 k9 3 pas£ k9, si 3 parv9n8 3ysk9la, 39 srez obli3e d 
marje kurbe, sa kwa 39 m kasre la t£it koitrg I9 firmama. 
3atr9pri oe 3uir datEidr a lekstremite d la vut selest ; aprez 
avwar marJe yn ceir, vwaja ksl ete tu3uir a la msm distais d9 
mwa, 3a kokly kil j ave tro Iwe, me 3 na reste pa mwe persqade 
kel egziste, e k9 si 39 n parv9ne paz a la tuje, se k9 3 nave 
pa dase bon 3aib. o rest, 39 m figyre, a la vy dez etwal, k9 
I9 sjel ete perse dyn efinite d9 pti tru par u la plqi tobe syr 
la teir, kom par ce kribl, e k lez etwal nete k la lymjeir d9 
dj0, ki sorte, la nqi, par se pti tru. set dernjeir ide nete pa 
si ofatin. — bernarde d9 se pjeir. 

^ Half-length is not marked in the phonetic spelling, but is regarded 
as short. 



105. A Consonant, as already defined (§ 7), is "a sound 
caused by friction or stoppage of the breath somewhere in 
the mouth," that is to say, it results essentially from some 
obstacle, and is thus distinguished from a vowel, which is 
a sound modified in the resonance chambers of the mouth, 
but having a free unobstructed passage. Thus, [s] and [f] 
are examples of consonants produced by friction (owing to 
the narrowing of the passage), while [k] and [t] are examples 
of stoppage. 

106. Consonants are divided into voiced and unvoiced, 

and it is essential that the student should clearly understand 
the difference. When the expiratory current is accompanied 
by vibration of the vocal chords, the consonant is said to be 
voiced; otherwise, it is called unvoiced. Thus, [v] is 
voiced, the air being set in vibration in passing through the 
vocal chords, while [f] is unvoiced, the air being non- vibrating. 
Indeed, it may be said that [v] and [f] are voiced and un- 
voiced forms of the same consonant. A similar remark 
applies to [z] and [s], [b] and [p], [d] and [t], [g] and [k], [3] 
and [/]. It is thus evident that consonants go in pairs, each 
voiced consonant having an unvoiced one. The consonants 
P, m, n, r] are only found voiced as a rule in French, but their 
unvoiced forms, denoted phonetically by [1, gi, n, r] occur 
occasionally after voiceless consonants owing to assimilation, 
as in peuple [poepl], quatre [katr], etc., and are^ found freely 
in other languages. Voiced consonants are sometimes called 
soft, and unvoiced hard. This is due to the fact that in the 
former case part of the force is spent in the vibration of the 
vocal chords, and the resulting sound has a soft, musical 
quality, while in the latter case the force of the breath is 
unweakened and strikes the ear more forcibly. 



The distinction between voiced and unvoiced consonants 
plays an important part in French pronunciation, and cannot 
be too strongly marked. Students who have difficulty in 
the matter should practise the two forms between vowels. 
Thus, [afa] and [ava], [asa] and [aza], [apa] and [aba], etc. 
They should then pass on to words, such as the following, 
between which there exists no other difference than between 
their voiced and unvoiced consonants : 

Fer, ver 
Foie, voie 
Camp, gant 
Port, bord 

poisson, poison 
choix, joie 
pelle, belle 
coup, gout 

les soeurs, les heures 
sans savoir, sans avoir 
trois cents, trois ans 
il tance, il danse 

107. In a book of this kind, based on phonetics, the order 
of the usual alphabet is meaningless. The consonants must 
here be grouped according to the manner of their formation 
and the place of their articulation. The following table 
represents this grouping, with the unvoiced consonant placed 
immediately after its corresponding voiced one. The three 
semi-consonants [w, j, j\\ are included, to show their exact 
position from the consonantal point of view. 




1 Pre- 

Palatal \ Velar 





d, t 

1 g,k 


m, IT 


Ji, .P 


(w, w) 

V, f 

z, s 


(3, J) 1 (w, Y) 
(q, k) i 




R, R 



(1 mou- 

108. The horizontal divisions, five in number, represent 
the five different ways in which the consonants are formed : 

(i) Explosives : These are produced by the air passages 
being completely closed, and then suddenly opened, resulting 
in a kind of explosion. 


(2) Nasals : Here the mouth is completely closed, but 
the velum is lowered, so that the air escapes through the 

(3) Fricatives : These are due to a narrowing of the 
passage at a given point, so that the air passes through 
with continuous friction. 

{4) Trills : These are produced b}^ the air passage being 
closed and then opened several times in rapid succession. 

(5) Laterals : Here the passage is closed in the middle 
and open at the sides of the tongue. 

109. The perpendicular columns show the divisions accord- 
ing to the place of articulation, i.e. the place where the 
explosion or friction is produced. In the Bi-labial con- 
sonants this place is at the lips; in the Labio-dental the 
lower lip presses against the upper teeth ; in the Dental 
the fore-tongue comes against the upper gums ; in the Pre- 
palatal the fore-tongue rises towards the front of the hard 
palate, leaving a resonance chamber in the middle of the 
tongue (Diagram, § 135) ; in the Palatal the middle of the 
tongue (the point being kept down) is bunched up against the 
hard palate ; in the Velar the back of the tongue is raised 
against the soft palate; in the Uvular the friction comes 
between the extreme back of the tongue and the uvula (as 
in gargHng) ; in the Glottal the sound is produced by the 
air passing through the vocal chords before they are brought 
together to produce voice. 

The learner should practise the production of the con- 
sonants alone, without the adjunction of any vowel, and he 
will become accustomed to their proper formation as here 
described. Let him, for example, practise [s, t, k], etc., not 
as ' ess,' ' tee,' * kay,' but by themselves. French consonants 
are all remarkable for their clearness, and any fault in this 
respect robs the language of its beauty. To omit or slur over 
the [t] in such words as maintenant, atmosphere, or the [p] in 
such words as symptome, as even some French people do, is 
an inexcusable negligence. 

110. We shall now deal with the consonants one by one, 
beginning at the bottom of the preceding table and going 
upwards. In many cases consonants are not pronounced, and 
such cases will be noted. A French speaker does not load 
the end of words with consonants. As a rule, therefore, final 


consonants are mute, as galop [galo], pr ogres [progrs], lent 
[la] ; and if a word ends in three consecutive consonants, 
the last two are generally mute, as corps [koir], temps [ta], 
rompt [ro], je perds [peir]. Under this rule is included the 
verbal ending -nt (in -eitt), as Us ouvrent [uivr], Us allaient 
[ale], Us parlent [pari]. In most cases the final consonants 
/, /, and in many cases c, r, are pronounced, however, as 
tarif [tarif], industriel [edystriel], pare [park], hiver [iveir]. 
There are, of course, exceptions to these rules ; and as a 
general principle it may be laid down that final consonants 
tend to be mute in words that are popular and in everyday 
use. The more learned or rare a word is, the greater 
likelihood is there that its final consonant is pronounced. 



111. For the English [1] the fore-tongue frequently touches 
the hard palate too far behind, and in some cases even curls 
backwards as in the accompanying diagram. This habit 
lessens the clearness of the [1] and of the vowel following. 
For the French sound, the tongue should touch the gums 
immediately behind the teeth, as in the case of the other 
dentals [t, d, n], etc. 

Frequent position of tongue Position required for 

for English [1] French [1] 

Fig. 2 

112. Reference has already been made (§ 78) to the ter- 
mination -il after a vowel being pronounced with the sound 
[j], as corail [koraij], conseil [koseij], fenouil [fanuij], ml 
[oeij].i Three other words must be included under this 
rule, viz. gentilhomme [3dtijom], gresil [greziij], mW^ [miij]. 
Similarly, we have referred (§77) to the combination -ill 
as being also pronounced [j] after a vowel and [ij] after a 
consonant. Thus, grenouille [granuij], fouiller [fuje], que 
faille [aij], detailler [detaje], abeille [abeij], veiller [veje], 
fille [fiij], griller [grije]. 

113. In the case of -ill, the sound formerly used was 
* I mouille' (represented phonetically by [A]). Some speakers, 

^ The termination -oil, however, is pronounced [wal], as in poll 
[pwal] . 

2 English : millet. 



who try to use this old sound still, pronounce it [Ij], as 
souiller [sulje], piller [pilje] ; and this pronunciation is very 
prevalent in some districts of Belgium and very common 
throughout France in the four words meilleur, ailleurs, cuillere, 
juillet. But this is an incorrect imitation of ' / mouille,' and 
confuses such words as souiller and Soulier, piller and pilier, 
railler and rallier, fusilier and fusilier, etc. The true sound 
of [A], which is a palatal-lateral (see table, § io8), may be 
produced by sounding [1] with the tip of the tongue 
pressed against the lower teeth. If the tongue be kept 
in this position, and the forepart of the blade be raised against 
the front ridge of the hard palate, a true sound of [A] is 
produced. The consonant is identical with the Italian gli 
(Broglie),i\iQ Spanish II (Llerena), and the Provencal Ih [Milhau). 
It is still common in Switzerland and Southern France, where 
it survives as a provincialism, but it has completely dis- 
appeared from normal French in spite of the efforts of orthoepists 
to retain it, and the sound used now, as already stated, is the 
liquid one [j], heard also for // in Spanish America. 

114. There are a few exceptions in which -ill after a con- 
sonant is pronounced [il] instead of [ij]. These are chiefly 
among the cases where the / in Latin was not followed by 
an i, as ville [vil], from villa, tranquille [trakil] from tranquilla. 
But wherever there was an i following, the sound [ij] occurs, 
as fille [fiij] from filia, famille [famij] from familia, etc. The 
[il] sound is the proper one etymologically for the former 
group, but [ij] has largely invaded this domain. 

Among the cases of the sound [il] may be mentioned the 
following : bacille, billevesee, billion, calville, capillaire, 
codicille, distiller, instiller, lilliputien, mille, maxillaire, 
myrtille, pupille, pusillanime, scille, tranquille, vaudeville, 
verticille, ville, with their derivatives. To these must be 
added all words commencing with ill- (e.g. illustre, etc.). There 
are also several proper names preserving the [il] sound, such 
as Achille, Cyrille, Gille, Lille, Mabille, Sillery, etc., and those 
beginning with Vill- or Mill- (Villele, Villemain, Millet, 
Millerand, etc.). For some words there is hesitation between 
[il] and [ij]. Thus, scintiller, vaciller, osciller, titiller, are 
heard with both sounds, but [ij] seems to prevail in the two 
former [sstije], [vasije], and the [il] sound in the two latter 
[osile, titile]. 


115. We have stated (§111) that [1] is one of the consonants 
usually sounded at the end of a word, as in fatal, mortel, del, 
col, etc. Note, however, that it is mute in certain cases : 

(i) Generally in the termination -il, when not pronounced 
liquid, i.e., when coming immediately after a con- 
sonant, as haril [bari], chenil [fani], coutil [kuti], fusil [fyzi], 
sourcil [sursi]. The following are exceptions, however, in 
which the [1] is sounded,^ viz. alguazil, avril, beryl, hissextil, cil, 
civil, exil, fil, mil (1000), morfil, piril, pistil, profil, puiril, 
sil, subtil, tortil, vil, viril, volatil, le Brisil, le Nil, and two 
or three other proper names. Indeed, it may be said that 
the [1] tends to be sounded more and more in modern French, 
and in addition to the words just mentioned one hears it 
frequently now in babil, gril, and even in gresil and mil 
(millet) where it is generally [j]. 

(2) In the words aulne, aulnaie, aulx [0], cul [ky], and com- 

pounds {gratte-cul, cul-blanc, etc.), fils, pouls [pu], saoul or 
soul [su].2 

(3) In all words in -auld, -ault (pronounced [0]) -ould, oult 

(pronounced [u]), as Arnauld, Gericault, La Rochefoucauld, 
Perrault, Quinault, Herault, Arnould, Guiroult, etc. 

(4) Medially in a few proper nouns, as Belfort, Gaultier, 

Paulmier, Paulmy, Saulnier, etc. 

116. In familiar speech, [1] is often dropped in such words 
as il, lis, quelque, celui. In such a case, il retains its [1] before 
a vowel, but becomes [i] before a consonant or at the end 
of a stress-group, as il y va [iliva], but il part [ipair], s'il vous 
plait [sivuple], plait-il [pleti], vient-il [vjeti]. lis becomes 
[iz] before a vowel, and [i] before a consonant or at the end 
of a stress-group, as its ont [izo], ils vont [iv5], ils sont arrives 
[isotarive].^ Quelque becomes [ksk], as quelque chose 
[kekjoiz], quelquefois [kskfwa], quelqu'un [kskoe], quelques- 
uns [kekzde]. Celui becomes [sqi], as qu'est-ce qu'il me veut, 

^ These include words from Latin adjectives in -His. 

2 In (2), (3), and (4) the mute / is an ' etymological ' one, introduced 
into the language by the old savants. 

^ The I mute in il, ils, as early as the sixteenth century, 
except of course in liaison. It was not till the eighteenth century 
that sustained speech sought to re-establish it, and it is only education 
that maintains it in reading and in careful speech at the present 


celui-ci ? [k8skimv0 sqisi]. The tendency to contract such 
words, however, becomes a careless habit, and should be 
strictly confined to coUoquial conversation.^ 

^ Another popular tendency, but much worse, consists in doubling 
/ after a pronoun, as : Je Wai vu [39I le vy], tu IV as dit [tyl la di], je 
te IVai dit [3tal le di]. This is doubtless after the analogy of il Va vu, 
il Va dit, etc., but is not more excusable on that account. 


Louis leur lit la lettre de Lucie. 

Lili a lu le livre de Jules. 

Voila, la lune et les 6toiles luisent ! 

La lumi^re de la lampe luit loin. 
Le lilas est joli le long de rall6e. 
Apr6s l'Ag6silas, H61as ! Mais apr^ 
I'Attila, Hola ! (Boileau) 

Iwi loer li la letra d9 lysi. 
lili a ly la li:vr9 da 3yl. 
vwala, la lyn e lez etwal 

lqi:z ! 
la lymjsir da la la:p Iqi Iwe. 
la lila s 3aU la 15 d lale. 
aprs la3ezila:s, ela:s ! mez 

apre latila, ola ! (bwalo) 



L'anguille 6tait tranquille. 

11 entra dans la ville avec sa 

Elle per9a sa pupille avec unc 

J'ai vu le pillage du village. 
Sa famille demeurait a Seville. 
Les fiUes de Guillaume sont 


lagiij et8 trakil. 

il atra da la vil avek sa 

el persa sa pypil avek yn 

eg^V^- .. ^ ., 

3e vy la pi]a:3 dy vila:3. 
sa famiij damcere a sevil. 
le fi:j da gijoim so 3ati:j. 


Fournil, fraisil, gentil, outil, 

furni, frezi, 3ati, uti, fani 

11 y a des aulnes a Chatellerault. 
Mon fils s'amuse tout son soul. 
Le cul-de-jatte m'a donne des 

Quinault etaitun poete fran9ais. 
11 se tate le pouls avant de 


il j a dez om a Jatelro. 
mo fis samyiz tu so su. 
la kyd3at ma done dez 0. 

kino ets oe posit frase. 
il sa ta:t la pu ava da 


11 me semble qu'ils n'ont rien. 
11 ne sait pas ce qu'il dit. 
11 faut qu'il vienne quelquefois. 
Celui-ci peut tuer quelqu'un, 
Quelques-uns parlent comme 

imsaibl ki no rjs. 
insepa skidi. 
ifo ki vjsn kskfwa. 
sqisi p0 tqe kekoe. 
kekzoe pari kom sqila. 


THE TRILLS [r] and [r] 

117. This consonant is pronounced more strongly than in 
English, being always ' rolled.' In the South of England and 
also in America it is generally ignored altogether, unless it 
begins a syllable. For example, farm is pronounced very 
much like [faim], fair like [feig], and so on. In the North of 
England and in Scotland it is different, the [r] being usually 
well * rolled,' but in other English-speaking parts the ' roll ' 
is never heard except in excited or emphatic speech. The 
student who wishes to speak French properly, must there- 
fore acquire the French [r], either the palatal one (phonetic 
symbol [r]) or the uvular one (phonetic [r]), both of which 
are ' rolled.' 

118. In the palatal [r], the air is stopped by raising the 
point of the tongue to the palate, but the tongue is 
continually giving way and reinstating itself in the same 
place, so that there is practically a continuous flow of 
air, with a kind of trill or trembling. The diagram in 
§ 112, for the French [1], illustrates also the tongue position 
for [r]. It is the old Roman, as weU as the Italian and the 
Spanish sound of the consonant, and being much clearer 
than the uvular one, is generally the one used in singing, in 
oratorical declamations, and in the French theatres, and is 
very acceptable in ordinary conversation. If the learner has 
any difficulty in its production, he should practise [tr], as 
the tongue position of [t] is somewhat similar to that of [r]. 
Continuous practice will produce a good palatal [r]. 

119. The uvular sound [r] is known as the ' Parisian rj 
or ' r grasseye.' ^ It is common in Paris and in the large 

^ The term grasseyer, however, strictly means 'to speak thick,' to 
be unable to pronounce well certain letters, r among others, and con- 
sequently it is applied in certain districts to designate unpleasant, 
mufl9.ed varieties of [r]. 



towns of the north and west, and is regarded as more 
' aristocratic ' perhaps than the palatal sound, and as belonging 
more to cultivated society. The * rolling ' is produced by 
the uvula vibrating on the back of the tongue, as in the 
accompanying diagram, and the tongue-point, instead of 
being raised against the hard palate, is kept down and pressed 
against the lower teeth. This r is frequent in the north of 
England and in Scotland, giving rise to the Northumbrian 
and Scotch burr, and is not difficult to acquire. When one 



Fig. 3 

gargles, for example, a series of uvular r's is produced, and 
they are uttered even more energetically, although innocently, 
by those who snore. It only remains to sound them without 
these accompaniments. Let the learner pronounce [rq], as 
if he were going to gargle, and the result will be a Parisian 
[r], with the uvula trembling on the tongue. ^ 

120. One or other of these sounds is absolutely necessary 
to good French speech, and a choice should be made between 
them. Many excellent teachers insist on the palatal form 
and condemn the uvular. The former certainly is the more 
widely used, apart from the large towns, and has the advantage 

^ The uvular r is largely a modern substitute for the palatal one, 
although it is difficult to determine the approximate date when it 
became popular. In Mohere's time the palatal form was general in 
Parisian speech, as is evident from Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (II. Sc. 4) : 
" Le y se forme en portant le bout de la langue jusqu'au haut du palais, 
de sorte qu'etant frolee par fair qui sort avec force, elle lui cede et 
revient tou jours au meme endroit, faisant une maniere de tremblement : 
Rra." The same description is found in Cordemoy's Discours physique 
de la parole (1668). The theory that the uvular r was introduced by 
Les Pricieuses has little or no historical support. It is more likely 
to have spread as a careless pronunciation of the palatal one, which 
requires more energy of tongue, and is not easily learned by children 


of being clearer, more sonorous, and less trying to the throat. 
But at all events, the student must produce a proper r, 
whether palatal or uvular. If he has a good one already, 
he should not change it, as any kind of trilled r is acceptable 
to the French. 

121. One serious fault with English speakers, as already 
stated, is to neglect the r altogether, unless it begins a syllable. 
This is particularly noticeable before a consonant in the 
interior of a word. Consequently, they pronounce arme like 
dme, partir like pdtir, sortez like sautez, etc. Even French 
people are found pronouncing parce que as [paskg] ; sometimes 
they say bonjou' m'sieur, and they frequently omit the r of 
the preposition sur before a consonant, especially I, as sur 
le dos [syldo], sur le flanc [sylfla], sur le boulevard [sylbulvair]. 
This lax pronunciation is the basis of the French conundrum, 
" Why is a tanner like the sultan ? " '' Because he is sur le 
tan " [sylta]. The fault, which is very common with English- 
speaking students, is a serious one, and leads to confusion. 
To remedy it, the syllables should be detached from each 
other, so as to make the r final, as par-tir. They should 
then be pronounced separately, at first slowly and afterwards 
more and more rapidly, making sure that the r is energeti- 
cally maintained. Practice should be made with such words 
as parler, gargon, border, torpeur, cordeau, fermer, nerveux, 
mercredi, etc. 

122. Another English fault is to insert [9] between a long 
vowel and the r, as a glide or bridge between the vowel and 
the trill, so that we have pere pronounced as [peiar], tour 
as [tui9r], etc. This glide, so common in English, must be 
avoided in French, and the vowel followed immediately by the 
r, as [peir], [tuir]. (See § 12.) 

123. The final r is generally pronounced, as amer [amsir], 
cuiller [kqijeir], ether [etsir], Luther [lytsir]. But, since the 
beginning of the eighteenth century at least, it has always 
been mute in the termination of -er verbs, and the ter- 
minations -ier, -yer, -ger,^ -cher of nouns and adjectives 
of more than one syllable, as portier [portje], metayer 
[metsje], berger [b8r3e], boucher [buje]. To these must be 

^ Many foreign proper nouns in -ger, however, have the r sounded, as 
Niger, Kruger, CUsinger, Scaliger, etc. 


added the adverb volontiers [volotje], monsieur [m9sj0], 

gars [ga], dejeuner (breakfast), gouter (lunch), diner (dinner), 

souper (supper), purler (speech), poulailler, oreiller, and one 
or two others. 


Ren6 tarde k lire leur lettre. 
Robert regarde les roses rouges, 
Rira bien qui rira le dernier. 
Richard arrose les arbres fruitiers. 
Pierre reviendra mercredi a Paris. 

Sa croupe se recourbe en replis tortueux. 

Je pars, j'erre en ces rocs ou partout se 

herisse, . . . (Lemierre) 

rane tard a li:r loer Istr. 
robsir ragarda le ro:z ru:3, 
ri:ra bje ki ri:ra la dernje. 
rija:r aro:z lez arbra frqitje. 
pJEir ravjedra merkradi a 

sa krup sa rakurb a rapli 

tortqo. (rasin) 
3a pa:r, 3e:r a se rok u partu 

sa eris. . . . (lamjeir) 



Cher, enfer, fer, ver, fier, hier, 
hiver, mer, tiers, acquiers 

Jeir, afeir, fe:r, ve:r, fjeir, 
je:r, ive:r, m,e:r, tjeir, 

Aster, tender, revolver, pater 

asteir, tadeir, revolvsir, 

Jupiter, Quimper, Esther, 

3ypit£:r, kepsir, Esteir, obsir 

Premier, dernier, rosier, singulier, 
armurier, barbier, chandelier, 

pramje, dernje, rozje, 
segylje, armyrje, barbje, 
Jadalje, pomje 

Ecuyer, foyer, voyer, noyer, 

ekqije, fwaje, vwaje, nwaje, 

L6ger, menager, Alger, Roger, 

le3e, menase, al3e, ro3e, 

Cocher, rocher, toucher, vacher, 

koje, roje, tuje, vaje, larje 


124. [f ]. This is an unvoiced consonant, represented generally 
by /, but sometimes by ph, especially in Greek words. For 
its production, the lower lip is brought into contact with the 
upper teeth, but the contact does not intercept the breath 
entirely : it only causes sufficient obstruction to produce a 
kind of explosiveness when they are separated. 

125. Final / is usually sounded. But it is mute in the 
following cases : 

(i) In clef [kle], and generally in the plurals ceufs [0\} bceufs [b0], 
nerfs ^ [neir], and sometimes in cerfs, serfs [seir]. 

(2) In the combinations : bceuf gras, cerf -volant, cerf-dix-cors, 

nerf-de-bceuf, chef-d'ceuvre. 

(3) In the place-names : Neuf chateau, Neufchdtel, Neufbourg, 



Francois fait une farce au philosophe. 
La fille de Frederic est faible. 
La foudre frappe la fonderie de fer. 
Felix a fusille le fils du forgeron. 

La foule effray6e fuit dans le caf6. 
Un frais parfum sortant des touffes 
d'asphod^les. (Victor Hugo) 


Chef, bref, bas-relief, canif, 
soif, rosbif, oeuf, boeuf, 
nerf, serf 

fraswa fs yn fars o filozof. 
la fi:j da Frederik e feibl. 
la fudr frap la fodri da fsir. 
feliks a fyzije la fis dy 

la ful efreje fqi da la kafe. 
oe fre parfoe sorta de tuf 

dasfadel. (viktor ygo) 

Jef, bref, baraljef, kanif, 
swaf , rosbif, cef , beef, nerf, 

1 Many people pronounce ceufs as [0] only after a [z], as in trois ceufs, 
douze oeufs, quinze oeujs, but they sound the / in other cases, as in quatre 
ceufs, combien d" ceufs, un cent (V ceufs, etc. There is a growing tendency 
for final / to establish itself everywhere in pronunciation. 

2 In the singular nerf also, the / is mute as a rule when the word is 
used figuratively, as in ce style a du nerf [ne:r]. 



Ce boeuf gras est de Neuf chatel . 

Le Cid est le chef-d'oeuvre de 

Les cerfs effrayent vos boeuf s. 

Les nerfs sont sensitifs ou 

II a mis la clef sous la porte. 

Le cerf- volant est un jouet 

Le nerf-de-boeuf est un liga- 

Les oeufs sont tres nourrissants. 

sa b0gra £ da noejatel. 

l9 sid e la Jsdoeivra da 

le SEir efreij vo b0. 
le neir s5 sasitif u motoeir. 

il a mi la kle su la port, 
la SErvola st de 3W6 dafa. 

la nsrdaboef et de ligama. 

lez so trs nurisa. 

126. [v]. For this consonant the lip is not pressed so tightly 
against the upper teeth, but otherwise the formation is 
precisely the same as for /, with the addition of voice from 
the vocal chords. In English the amount of voice given is 
frequently insufficient, so that there is little difference be- 
tween the two consonants, but in French care must be taken 
to produce as much voice as possible. Practice should be 
made with words beginning with v, the consonant being 
lengthened and dwelt upon, so as to ensure full vocal quality. 
Thus, v-oulez-v-ous v-enir v-oir v-otre v-oisin ? 

Note that w in words of German or Flemish origin is pro- 
nounced V, as Waterloo [vaterlo], Weser [vezsir], Wuriemberg 
[vyrtebsir]. Wagon is also [vago]. 


Voulez-vous venir vivre a Ver- 
sailles ? 
Voici votre neveu vis-a-vis de vous. 
Vivien veut vendre la vieille voiture. 

Votre voisin vient voir la ville. 
Votre vaisseau arrive vendredi k 

vulevu vni:r vi:vr a versa:] ? 

vwasi votra navo vizavi d vu. 
vivje V0 vaidra la vjsij 

votra vwazg vj£ vwair la vil. 
votra veso ari:v vadradi ; 


127. [s]. For this consonant, the fore-tongue touches the 
upper gums, but a narrow passage is left over the middle of 
it, through which the breath is sent with a clear hissing sound. 
The articulation ends with an abrupt explosive withdrawal of 
the tongue from this position. In French, the s is pronounced 
more energetically than in English, the organs being held well 
in position during the emission of the breath. 


128. Like most consonants s generally remains mute at 
the end of words, as bras [bra], toujours [tu3uir], abus [aby], 
nous parlons [parlo]. Note that it is also mute in the 
interior of some words : 

(i) In compounds beginning with the possessive mes-, 
or the articles les-, des-, as mesdames [medam], lesquels 
[lekel], desquels [dekel]. 

(2) In names of individuals commencing with Des- or 

Bois-, as Descartes [dekart], Despots [depwa], Destouches 
[detuj], Boislile [bwalil]. 

(3) In proper nouns, when it comes before a consonant. In 

this case the s plays the role of a circumflex, and causes the 
vowel preceding to be long if under stress, as Nesle [neil], 
Fresnes [frem], Du Guesclin [gekle], Delisle [dgliil], Chasles 
[Jail], Rosny [rony]. In the ordinary spelling, this class 
of words has not undergone the change imposed on common 
nouns by the Academy in 1740, by which hastir, teste, etc., 
became hdtir, the, etc. The following words, however, 
have the s sounded : Montespan, Montesquieu, Pascal, 
Islande, Mesmer, Crespin, Robespierre, Esquirol, Isnard, 
and two or three others, as well as when s precedes t {Estienne, 
Mistral, Restaut, etc.). The s is also sounded in ancient 
or foreign names {Israel, Dresde, etc.). In South France, 
too, the s has preserved its sound, so that we have Estaing 
[ssts], Lesparre [Isspair], etc. 

129. Although final s is generally mute, it is pronounced 
in the following cases : 

(i) In a few words mostly monosyllabic, viz. as [ais], ambesas 

dbzais], es [ss], us [ys], ours [urs], hilas [elais], mitis 

metiis], jadis [3adis], laps [laps], fils [fis], reps [reps], mars 

mars] (the month, or Mars, the god of war),^ sus [sys], 

cens [sdis],^ tous (the pronoun, [tuis]),^ parisis [pariziis] 

1 When the word is applied to the planet, the s is usually mute, as it 
is also in the proper name Cinq-Mars. 

2 But in encens the s is generally mute. 

3 Note that the s is only sounded in the pronoun, as ils viendront 
tons [tu:s], tous debout, etc. This rule prevents confusion between 
such expressions as ils ont tous [tu:s] dit and ils ont tout [tu] dit, ils sont 
tous plains and ils sont tout pleins, ils oublient tous ce qu'on a dit and 
ils oublient tout ce qu'on a dit^ etc. 



(as in sou parisis), pataques [pataksis]. In this connexion, 
note the following variations : 

Bis (the adverb) is pronounced [biis], as crier his ; but his 
(adjective) is [bi], as du pain his. 

Gens is usually pronounced [3a], but one often hears the 
pronunciation [301 s] in the south. Gens, a Roman 
family, is [381s], as in la gens Fabia. 

Lis is now [liis], but the old pronunciation [li] remains 
(according to the Academy, at least) in the compound 
fieur de lis, and is found in verse. 

Moeurs is [moers] now, but the old form [moeir] survives 
in verse and solemn speech. 

Os is correctly pronounced [os] in the singular, and [o] in 
the plural. The pronunciation [os] or [01s] in the plural 
is, however, frequently used by medical men in referring 
to the bones of the human body. 

Plus is [ply] before a consonant, as plus grand, and [plyz] 
in Haison before a vowel, as plus aimahle. But it is 
pronounced [plys] when final or emphatic, so long as 
it is not part of a negation ; thus, metiez deux en plus 
[plys], fen ai plus [plys], but je n'en ai plus [ply]. It is 
also [plys] in mathematical language, as 2 plus 2 font 
4 ; and in the grammatical term le plus-que-parfait. 

Sens is generally [sais], as in les cinq sens, contre-sens, non- 
sens, en tous sens, il n'a pas de sens, etc. But the s is 
sometimes mute in hon sens, always in sens dessus dessous, 
sens devant derriere, and generally in le sens commun. 

Vis (a screw) is [vis], as is also the compound tournevis ; 
but vis, the indicative of vivre and the past definite 
of voir, is pronounced [vi]. 

(2) It is sounded in the foreign terminations (mostly 

Greek and Latin) -as, -es, -is, -os, -us, the preceding vowel 
being generally long, as atlas [atlais], flores [florsis], gratis 
[gratiis], pathos [patois], hlocus [bbkyis] ; also in the Latin 
words biceps, triceps, forceps, etc. Chaos, however, is 
[kao] ; and the s is not pronounced in the names of certain 
cloths : jaconas, lampas, gingas, and damas, nor in balandras, 
sassafras, matras, or tetras. 

(3) Similarly in proper names, the preceding vowel being 
generally long, as Arras [arais], Gil Bias \^\\ blais], LSonidas 
[leonidaisj, Midicis [medisiis], Lesseps [lessps], Paris (name 



of person) [pariis], Mons [mois], Rheims [reis], La Lys 
[liis] (river).^ But when names are prenomens or familiar, 
the s remains mute, as in Lucas, Denis, Louis, Alexis, 
Nicolas, Thomas, Jisus,^ Judas, Dumas, etc. 

130. The letter s is not the only one in ordinary spelling 
that represents the sound [s]. The letter c does so before 
e, i, y, and g before a, 0, u, as cela, del, cycle, force, glagant, 
glagon, regu. The combination sc is pronounced [s] before 
e, i, y, as scene [sein], sceau [so], scelerat [sclera], irascible 
[irasibl], sceptique [septik]. The letter x is sounded [s] in 
a few cases, such as six, dix [sis, dis] when used as nouns,^ 
soixante [swasait], Auxerre [ossir], Auxois [oswa], Auxonne 
[oson], Buxy [bysi], Bruxelles [brysel],* Beatrix [beatris], 
Aix-les-Bains [sslebe], Aix-la-Chapelle [sslajapel]. In the last 
two, however, the pronunciation [eks] is becoming frequent. 

The name of the historical French banker, Law, has gener- 
ally been pronounced [lais].^ 

^ The s is generally mute, however, in those proper names in -ans or 
-ens which are pronounced with the nasal [a] {Orleans, Conflans, Le 
Mans, etc.), in proper names in -ins {Salins, Vervins, Norvins, etc.), in 
Amiens [amjg] and Damiens [damje], in proper names in -rs {Tours, 
Flers, Mamers, Vercors, etc.), and in a few others {Soissons, Nyons, etc.). 
Metz is [ms:s], and Retz is [re:s]. 

2 Many Protestants, however, prefer to sound the s of Jisus, so as to 
show respect for the name, and perhaps also to make themselves 
distinct from the Catholics. Some learned men also sound it in order 
to make the name like those of other historical persons. 

^ See chapter on numerals. 

* The pronunciation [bryksel], sometimes heard, sounds vulgar. 

^ This is not due, as some think, to the fact that Laws is a second 
form of the name in Scotland, but to the expression ' Law's Bank,' 
which was common among the people (cf. chez Maxim's). 


Ces serpents de Perse sifflent souvent. 

11 faisait sonner sa sonnette. 

Sa sceur Cecile est sans souci. 

Ces scies, monsieur, ce sont soixante 

Les cinq soeurs de Simon sont douces. 
Voici ces six cent six saucisses-ci. 

se serpa da psrs sifla suva. 

il faz8 sone sa sonet. 

sa soe:r sesil e sa susi. 

se si, masj0, S9 so swasait su. 

le S8 soeir da simo so dus. 
vwasi se si sa si sosis-si. 


Mesdemoiselles, messieurs, 

Medmwazsl, mesj0, 



Aisne, Quesnel, Asni^res, 
Besnard, Cosne, Avesne, 
Vosges, Champmesle 

Le pain bis est de couleur grise. 
La cantatrice a les honneurs du bis. 

Sophie s'orne de fleurs de lis. 

La France est la royaume des lis. 

On 6tudie les moeurs des abeilles. 

II lui a donne un os a ronger. 

II n'a que les os et la peau. 

C'est le plus que je puisse faire. 

Un lit, une table, plus deux chaises. 

Plus on est de fous, plus on rit. 

Je vis a Saint-Servan un escalier a vis. 

Ces gens n'ont pas le sens commun. 
Cet homme perd le sens du vrai. 


Alo^, cortes, express, vasistas, 
stras, iris, oasis, rachitis, 
cassis,! albatros, rhinoceros, 
burnous, omnibus, pros- 
pectus, hiatus, r^bus 

Agnes, Bernis, Clovis, Jonas, 

Ein, ksnel, anjeir, benair, 
ko:n, avEin, vo:3, JamEle 

l9 pE bi E da kuloe:r gri:z. 
la katratris a lez onoeir dy 

sofi soma da floeir da li. 
la fra:s e la rwajo:m de li:s. 
3n etydi le moers dez abEij. 
il Iqi a done oen os a r33e. 
il na ka lez o e la po. 
s£ la plys ka ja pqis fEir. 
oe li, yn tabl, plys do Je:z. 
plyz on E da fu, plyz 3 ri. 
3a vi a s£-SErva oen Eskalje a 

se 3a no pa la sa komde. 
SEt am pEir la sa:s dy vr£. 

aloEis, kortEis, EksprES, 
vasistais, strais, iri:s, 
oaziis, rajitiis, kasis, 
albatrois, rinoserois, 
byrnus, omnibyis, 
prospEktyis, jatyis, 

ajiEis, bErniis, kloviis, 
3ona:s, rybgis 

! A ' black currant,' but cassis, ' cross drain,' has the final s mute. 

131. [z]. This is the voiced consonant corresponding to [s], 
as in zele, zoyie, bronze, etc. It requires the same movement 
of the organs as [s], but before and during the articula- 
tion the vocal chords vibrate, making the consonant soft 
and sonorous. In French this vocal quality must be fully 

132. A simple s between two vowels (the first not being a 
nasal) is generally pronounced [z], as aise [sze], miserable 
[mizerabl], rose [roiz], paisible [pszibl].^ It is not always so, 
however, in compound words, whose second element begins 
with s. If the first element be any of the prefixes des-, re- 

1 English to some extent follows the same rule, as in the words easy, 
miser able, rose. 



(not re-), mes-, or trans-, the s takes the [z] sound, as desunion 
[dezynjo], deshomieur [dezonoeir],^ resister [reziste],^ mesallier 
[mezalje], transaction [trazaksjo].^ In the case of pre-, too, 
the z sound mostly occurs, as present [prezd], presomption 
[prezopsjo], presumer [prezyme].* But in all other cases of 
distinct compounds, the s retains its proper sound, as resaluer 
[rasalqe], monosyllahe [monosilab], entresol [atrasol], tournesol 
[turnesol], antisocial [atisosjal], soubresaut [subraso], Lesage 
[l9sai3], havresac [avrasak], vivisection [vivissksjo]. 

133. Final z is pronounced only in one or two words, such 
as gaz [gaiz], fez, and in a few proper names, as Berlioz, Rodez, 
Suez, Cortez, etc. In German words it becomes s, as quartz 
[kwarts], ruolz [ryols], sedlitz [sedlits]. 

^ Desuetude is an exception [desnetyd] . 

2 Resection and resequer [reseksjo, resske] are exceptions. 

3 Transylvanie and transept are exceptions [trasilvani, trasept]. 
* Preseance, presupposer, and presanctifier are exceptions. 


Voila deux oiseaux sur le gazon. 

Mes cousines, Louise et Susanne, sont 

Les enfants d'Isabelle sont amusants. 
Ces hommes resident dans I'lle de Jersey. 
Avez-vous vu les zig-zags des eclairs ? 

vwala d0z wazo syr I9 gazo. 
me kuzin,. l\vi:z e syzan, so 

lez afa dizabel sot amyza. 
sez om rezid da lil da 3erz8. 
avevu vy le zigzag dez 

eklEir ? 

s = [z] 

Baiser, maison, nasal, risible, 
usurper, Joseph, fusilier, 

beze, m£z5, nazal, rizibl, 
yzyrpe, 3oz£f, fyzije, 





Disaccord, designer, desir, 

Reseau, resider, reserver, re- 

Mesange, mesavenir, mesestimer 

Transition, transitif, transiger 
Presider, preserver, presenter 

dezako:r, dezijie, deziir, 

rezo, rezide, rezerve, rezudr 

meza:3,' mezavniir, mezes- 

trazisjo, trazitif, trazi3e 
prezide, prezerve, prezate 

s = [s] 

Antiseptique, resigner, mansue- 
tude, parasol, vraisemblable, 
polysyllabe, Lasalle, Lesaint, 

atiseptik, rasijie, masqetyd, 
parasol, vresablabl, 
polisilab, lasal, lase, d9S£ 


134. [J] (Ch). This is the unvoiced consonant corresponding 
to [3]. In ordinary French spelUng it is represented by the 
two letters ch (as in chat, chez, roche) and in many foreign 
words by sch (as in scottisch, Herschel, etc), but it is really 
a single sound, identical with sh in English {e.g. sheep, shilling, 
fashion). It has no relation to the English ch, which is 
generally pronounced [tj], as in church, change, etc., and this 
sound must be avoided. 

135. The proper enunciation of the consonant in French 
requires the formation of three small resonators in the mouth, 
— the first in the middle of the tongue, the second between 
the under part of the tongue and the teeth, and the third 
between the teeth and the lips. 

Position of organs for [J]. The resonators are marked i, 2, 3 
Fig. 4 

The chief fault of English students is that they do not 
project the lips sufficiently, and they thus suppress an in- 
dispensable resonator, the result being that the sound is too 
thin and harsh. Practice should be made with chut (silence !), 
pronounced [ft], taking care that the lips and other organs 
are in position before the breath passes through the mouth. 

136. Note that the group ch is not always pronounced [J], 
but frequently takes the sound of [k]. This is so in the 
following cases : 

(i) Always before a consonant, as chrHien [kretje], chronique 
[kronik,] Christophe [kristof]. 

(2) Almost always when final, as varech [varsk], cromlech 
[kromlek], Enoch [enok]. In almanach, however, it is 
generally mute [almana], and in farouche, punch, Foch, and 
Auch (as well as several other proper names of the south) 
it is Lf] : [faruj, poij, foj, oj]. 



(3) Frequently in borrowed words, especially before a, o, 

or u, as ar change [arkai3], archa'/que [arkaik], choriste [korist], 
icho [eko], chxur [koeir], Antiochus [dtjokyis]. Only in a 
few instances does the k sound occur before e, i, as in 
orchestre, orchis, lichen, Michel-Ange, Machiavel, etc. 

Most words in these three classes are from Greek or Hebrew, 
and are easily identified, as there is generally a corre- 
sponding English word in which ch has the sound of k (thus 
Chretien, Christian, archange, archangel). In all other cases 
(these being of the more familiar type) the symbol ch 
takes the [/] sound, as chanter, chapeau, chose, archiduc (and 
all words compounded with archi-, except archiepiscopal some- 
times), archeveque, Michel, etc. 


11 charge les choux sur le cheval. 
Charlotte chante dans sa chambre. 
Ce chasseur chasse sans chiens. 
Les chameaux da marchand sont 

Charles fait la mouche du coche. 

il Jar3 le Ju syr la Javal. 
Jarlot Ja:t da sa Ja:br. 
S9 Jasoeir Jas sa Jjs. 
le Jamo dy marja so Jwaje. 

Jarl fs la muj dy koj. 


Technique, Christ, chromatique, 
Chloe, chaos, chorus, Chaldee, 
catechumene, eucharistie, 
psychologic, gutta-percha, loch, 
St Roch, Lamech, Munich, 
Zurich, Bach, Moloch 

tsknik, krist, kromatik, kloe, 
kao, koryis, kalde, kate- 
kyms:n, 0karisti, psikolo3i, 
gytapsrka, lok, S8 rok, 
lamek, mynik, zyrik, bak, 


Chimere, cherubin, fetichisme, 
trochee, hierarchic, monarchic 

Jiraeir, Jerybe, fetijism, troje, 
jerarji, monarji 

Christophe cherche du varech. 
Saint Roch fut sauve par un chien. 
Rachel trouve du lichen sur les rochers. 
Charles a cache la table de loch. 
L'eucharistie est un sacrament 

krist of JsrJ dy varsk. 
S8 rok fy sove par oe Jjs. 
rajel truiv dy liken syr le roje. 

arl a kafe la tabla da lok. 

0karisti et oe sakrama kretje. 

137. [3] (J). This consonant, which is the, voiced form of 
[f], requires the same position of the organs, but with the 
addition of vocality. It is indicated in some phonetic systems 
by the two letters zh, but it is cne sound only, and is better 
represented by the single sign [3]. It occurs in ordinary 


French spelling as /, or as g before e, i, y, and is pronounced like 
the s in the English words ' leisure," ' measure/ etc., as jour 
[3uir], jtiste byst], George [3or3], sage [sai3]. The sound must 
not be confused with that of / in English, which is really [d3], 
as in John [d3on]. 

138. Note that in some words the combination ge is pro- 
nounced [3], the e mute being simply introduced to soften 
the g into [3], since g is always hard before a, 0, u, Thus, 
we have geole [301I], pigeon [pi35], gageure [ga3yir], mangeure 
[ma3yir], vergeure [v£r3yir], mangeons [ma33]. Similarly, we 
have nous jugeons |jy3o], il jugea []y3a], etc. 


Lcs gens sages sont tou jours justes. 
Je jouis des longues journees de juin. 
Je n'aime pas la neige ni les gelees. 
lis ne mangent pas de jambon. 
Jules joue avec Jacques tous les 

Ci-git le jeune gendre du geolier. 
A dejeuner le juge mangea des 


le 3a sa:3 so tu3U!r 3yst. 
39 3wi de 15:g 3urne da 3^8. 
39 nsim pa la ne:3 ni le 39le. 
il n9 ma:3 pa d9 3ab3. 
3yl 3u avEk 3a:k tu le 3u:r. 

si 31 la 3oen 3a:dr9 dy 3olje. 

a de3oene I9 3y:3 ma3a de pi33. 



139. [m], [n]. For the nasal consonants the air is stopped in 
the mouth and allowed to pass out through the nose. In m 
the stoppage is made by lightly closing the lips, and in n by 
raising the point of the tongue to the upper gums. At the 
same time the velum is lowered, and the breath thus passes 
entirely through the nose. Both m and n are usually voiced 
in French, i.e. the vocal chords are set in vibration, and there 
is thus a suppressed sound, as it were, which is the intentional 
result of an effort to produce voice. Only in exceptional 
cases, referred to under Assimilation, do they lose their vocal 
quality. The fault of English-speaking students is that they 
do not give sufficient voice to these nascd consonants, especially 
when they are initial. 

140. It should be remembered that final m or n, as 
already stated (§ 86 (4)), is sounded in many foreign and 
unfamiliar words, and the vowel preceding it has no nasal 
sound. Thus, maximum [maksimom], Jerusalem [3eryzal8m], 
hymen [imen], dolmen [dolmen] ; also that m is not sounded 
medially in automne [oton], nor in damner or its derivatives 
{condamner, condamnahle, etc.). 


Mon maitre est mort au mois de mai. 
Madame Mimel me semble 

Monsieur Marcel malmene ma mere. 
Maurice aime ce morceau de 

Mon mari est le meilleur du monde. 
J 'aime le miel mieux que la moelle. 
Le mur murant Paris rend Paris 


mo me:tr e mo:r o mwa da me. 
madam mimsl ma saibla 

masj0 mars si malmen ma ms:r. 
moris e:m S9 morso da myzik. 

mo mari £ la msjoeir dy moid. 
38:m la mjel mj0 ka la mwal. 
la myir myra pari ra pari 



Ni Nicolas ni Nanine n'est innocent. 
Prenons maintenant notre diner. 
Notre niece n'aime pas notre voisin. 
Notre journal a des annonces 

Le neveu de Nannette est de noble 

Non, il n'est rien que Nanine 


Cette machine d6pense le minimum 

de charbon. 
Comment fume-t-on I'opium ? 
Mon medecin m'a condamn6. 
Marie demeure a Menton depuis 

II y a un specimen d'un dolmen dans 

le museum. 

ni nikola ni nanin net inosa. 
prano metna notra dine, 
notra njes neim pa notra vwaze. 
notra 3urnal a dez ano:s n3br0:z. 

la nav0 da nanet e da nobla min. 

no, il ne rje ka nanin nonoir. 

set majin depa:s la minimom da 

koma fymto lopjom? 
mo metse ma kodane. 
mari damce:r a mato dapqi 

il ja de spesimen doe dolmen da 

la myzeom. 

141. [ji] (GN). This sound is generally known as 'n mouille.' 
It is represented in ordinary French orthography by the 
letters gn, as in vigne, agneau, etc., and never occurs initially 
in normal speech. As it has no equivalent in English, 
beginners are in the habit of turning it into [nj]. Thus, they 
pronounce saignait as if it were c'est niais [ssnje], soigne as 
if it were soil nie [swanje], and pignon as if it were part of 
the word opinion [opinp]. Even many French people have 
adopted this pronunciation, as being simpler and easier. But 
it is incorrect all the same, and a practised ear at once detects 
the fault. For [n] the point of the tongue has to be raised to 
the upper gums, whereas for [ji] it must be kept down. More- 
over, the sound referred to is a double one [n+j], whereas it 
should be a single nasal consonant, although represented 
by the two letters gn. 

The beginner will have little or no difficulty in acquiring 
the true pronunciation, if he will sound the English -ng (as 
in sing, ring, etc.) with the point of the tongue kept down 
against the lower teeth, and the middle of the tongue raised 
and pressed lightly against the hard palate, as in the diagram 
on opposite page. 

The * bunching up ' of the tongue completely obstructs 
the mouth passage, the result being that the velum descends 
and the vibrating breath passes through the nose. For the 


English -ng, it is the back part of the tongue that rises and 
comes into contact with the soft palate, but note that for 
gn it is the middle that rises and touches the hard palate. 
The French sound, while very like the English -ng, thus differs 
from it by being articulated farther forward. 

Position of tongue for [ji] 
Fig. 5 

For the correct enunciation of -gn, therefore, all that is 
needed is to pronounce it as if it were the English -ng, but see 
that the point of the tongue is kept down, and that the middle 
(not back) portion is moved upward till it touches the hard 
palate. The English word sing, pronounced in this way 
(but with close i) will give the French word signe. Similarly, 
bang will give bagne ; pang, pagne ; wrong, rogne ; and so on. 
Beginners will find the consonant to be most easily pro- 
nounced when preceded by the vowel [i], because with [i] 
(and still more with [j]) the front of the tongue is raised towards 
the hard palate (see § 8), though not sufficiently to close the 
mouth passage. If it be raised a little more than for [j], it 
will press against the hard palate, thus causing stoppage there 
and sending the breath through the nose. A little more 
practice with words in -igne {signe, vigne, digne, etc.) will lead 
to the correct pronunciation, and words can then be practised 
in which the consonant is preceded by other vowels, such as 
daigner [dejie], poignard [pwajiair], cogner [kojie], Agnes 
[apeis] . When the consonant finishes and the tongue descends, 
the sound glides easily into the following vowel. To those 
who have no phonetic training, this brief ghde seems some- 
thing like a [j], and hence they introduce the semi-consonant, 
pronouncing mignon as [mijijo], etc., as they also do with 
/ mouille, making it [Ij]. But this is not the right sound, as 
the detachment itself of the tongue from the palate makes the 
only correct glide. 


142. The following table shows the formation of the three 
nasal consonants [m, n, ji], together with that of the English 
-ng (phonetic sign [g]). In all four, the air is stopped in the 
mouth by means of some obstruction and sent through the 


Stoppage caused by I Part of palate touched 

Closing of lips i None 

Point of tongue | Just behind upper teeth 

Back of tongue I Soft palate 

Middle of tongue i Hard palate, except front part 

Note that English has three nasal consonants [m, n, g], 
and French has three also [m, n, ji]. 

143. In a few words, after o or a, the combination -ign- 
used to be pronounced [ji], the i being silent. These are words 
in which the ancient spelling of -ign for -gn is still retained, 
such as poigne [pop], poignee [pope], poignard [popair], 
poignant [popa], empoigner [apope], encoignure [akopyir], 
oignon [opo], moignon [mop5], Philippe de Champaigne [fapap] 
(being the name of the province called Champagne), Montaigne 
[motap] (being the common noun une montagne), Cavaignac 
[kavapak]. Under the influence of the ordinary spelling, 
however, practically every one of these words is almost always 
pronounced now the other way, as poigne [pwap], empoigner 
[apwajie], Montaigne [motep]. Only oignon seems still to 
retain the old sound alone, and would shock good taste if it 
were pronounced with [wa]. 

144. It should be remembered that gn does not always 
represent the sound [ji]. When initial (except in gnaf, 
gnon, gnangan, and gnognotie, which are words of slang) 
and in a few learned words (including their derivatives), 
it is pronounced as [g+n]. Thus, gnou [gnu], agnostique 
[agnostik], cognition [kognisjo], stagnation [stagnasjo]. This 
pronunciation, however, which only introduced itself in the 
seventeenth century, shows a tendency to give way in some 
cases to [p]. 




II accompagne les agneaux aux 

Les cygnes du seigneur sont soign6s. 
II craignait I'indignation des seigneurs. 
L'ignominie est tou jours poignante. 
Cette campagne a des montagnes 

Agnes a des oignons d'Espagne. 
J'ai vu les vignobles de Joigny. 
Les ignorants ne sont pas indignes. 


Agnat, cognat, diagnose, gneiss, 
gnome, gnosticisme, igne, 
ignicole, ignivore, ignition, 
inexpugnable, pugnacite, 

magnolier, recognition, stag- 
nant, magnificat 

il akopaji lez ajio o motaji. 

le siji dy SEjice:r so swajie. 
il krejie Isdijiasjo de sejioeir. 
lijiomini e tu3u:r pojiait. 
set kapaji a de motaji majiifik. 

Ajie:s a dez ojio despaji. 
36 vy le vijiobla da 3wapi. 
lez ijiora na so paz ediji. 

agna, kogna, djagnoiz, gnes, 
gno:m, gnostisism, igne, 
ignikol, ignivoir, ignisjo, 
inekspygnabl, pygnasite, 
magnolje, rekognisjS, stag- 
na, magnifikat 


145. [p], [b]. For [p], the lips are closed (in natural shape) 
and then opened abruptly, the compressed breath being 
emitted with distinct explosiveness. For [b], the formation 
is the same, except that the voiced quality is added. 

The fault of English students is that they do not give 
sufficient voice to [b], so that one frequently hears something 
like [p]. To correct this fault, practice should be made with 
the phonetic syllable [oeb], slowly and repeatedly uttered, 
taking care that the chords continue to vibrate till the con- 
sonant has actually exploded. When this habit of glottal 
vibration has been acquired, the vowel [oe] should be sup- 
pressed, so that the consonant may be articulated correctly 
of its own accord. 

146. Note that p is not pronounced in the interior of the 
following words 1*. hapteme [bateim], cheptel [Jotel], compte 
[koit], prompt [pro], dompter [dote], sculpter [skylte], temps 
[ta], exempt [egza], and derivatives from these ^ ; nor in 
corps [koir], je romps, tu romps, il rompt [ro], sept, septieme, 
septiemement.^ In all other cases it is clearly sounded, as 
symptome [ssptoim], adopter [adopte], assomption [asopsjo].* 

147. Like most consonants, p and h are usually mute 
at the end of words. But the final b is sounded in proper 
names, as J oh [30b], nahah [nabab], and in two or three 
other words, such as cluh, rob, rumb [roib]. Final p is 

1 The consonant p used to be mute in many words in popular use, 
especially before t, but only a few cases now remain. 

2 The p is pronounced, however, in baptismal, exemption, impromptu, 
and sometimes in indomptahle. 

3 The p is pronounced in all other derivatives of sept, as septembre 
[sEptaibr], etc., which are taken directly from the Latin. 

* Sometimes when initial, it falls in very familiar expressions, such as 
un [pytit gar f on, etc. 




sounded in a few monosyllables, mostly foreign, as cap, 
Gap (town), cep (generally before a vowel), croup, group, 
houp I hop ! and in handicap, hanap, jalap, julep, salep. 


Le bon baron a la barbe blanche. 
La robe de la bonne est bleue. 
Le boeuf est tombe dans I'abime. 
Les bottes de Benjamin sont bnines. 
La cabane est batie de briques. 

la bo baro a la barb blaij. 
la rob da la bon 8 bl0. 
la boef E tobe da labiim. 
le bot da besame so bryn. 
la kaban e bati da brik. 

Papa part pour la Peloponnese. 
Paul se promene pres du parapet. 
Pierre ne prend pas son parapluie. 
Le paysan a perdu ses pommes. 
Philippe ne comprend pas ce passage. 

papa pair pur la peloponE'.z. 
pol sa promEn prE dy parapE. 
pJEir na pro pa so paraplqi. 
la peiza a pErdy se pom. 
fiUp na kopra pa sa pasa:3. 

11 fait beau temps pour le bapteme. 
Le sculpteur est au septieme ciel. 
Le dompteur est exempt de blame. 
Au bout de compte il rompt ses fers. 
11 s'y donne promptement corps et 

il f£ bo ta pur la batEim. 
la skyltoeir Et SEtJEm sjeI. 
la dotoeir Et egzg da blaim. 
bu da ko:t il ro se fEir. 
il si don protma ko:r e aim. 

EUe prend un julep pour le croup. 
11 y a un club litteraire a Gap. 
Les nababs expedient un group. 
11 est arme de pied en cap. 
Les ortolans nichent dans les ceps. 

e1 pra oe sylEp pur la krup. 
il ya de klyb litereir a Gap. 
le nabab Ekspedi de grup. 
il Et arme da pjet a kap. 
lez ortola nij da le SEp. 

148. [t]. This consonant is represented in ordinary spelling 
b}^ th as well as t. Thus, theme [tsim], athee [ate], luth [lyt], 
gothique [gotik], etc. For its enunciation, the air passage is 
stopped by the fore-tongue being raised to the upper gums, 
and as soon as the stoppage ceases, the compressed breath 
escapes with a kind of explosiveness. 

149. There is a difference between English [t] and French 
[t]. For the English articulation the point of the tongue 
touches the hard palate a little behind the teeth (this is par- 
ticularly so in the case of [tr]), whereas for the French the 
point must touch the gums immediately behind the teeth, as 
in the accompanying diagram. The pronunciation of the 
English word toe is thus appreciably different from that of 
the French word tot, while the English pronunciation of such 
a combination as [tr] is so different from the French as to be 


particularly displeasing to the French ear. All that the 
English speaker needs is to advance the tongue-point a little 
more towards the teeth, till it practically comes into contact 
with them (compare § 60, and /^ § 112). If he has any 

Fig. 6 

difficulty, let him imagine that he is going to pronounce a 
d, which has the tongue-point nearer the teeth than the 
English t, and he will thus come pretty near to the correct 

150. Note that the combination -ti (not -ty) followed by 
a vowel is usually pronounced [si] or [sj]. It retains the [t] 
sound in the following cases : 

(i) When initial. Thus, tient (and in compounds, as contient, 
retiendra, maintien, etc.), tiede, Hare, etc. 

(2) After s or x, as question [ksstjo], combustion [kobystjo], 

mixtion [mikstjo]. 

(3) In those words which have lost s before the t, as chritien 

[kretje], old French chrestien ; chdtier [Jatje], old French 
chastier; Etiettne [etjsn], old French Estienne ; itiage [etjai3], 
old French estiage. 

(4) In substantives or adjectives in -tie, -tier, -tiere, 

-tieme, as amitii [amitje], pitiS [pitje], portier [portje], litiere 
[litjeir], septieme [sEtjsm], Poitiers [pwatje], along with the 
adverb volontiers [volotje]. 

(5) In the verbal terminations -tions, -tiez, and feminine 
participles in -tie, if the other forms of the verb have 
the [t] sound. Thus, nous sortions [sortjo], vous sortiez 
[sortje], nous hdtions [dtp], vous hdtiez [atje], partie [parti]. 

(6) In a few isolated words : antienne, centiare, corinthien, 

etioler, ipizootie, garantie, galimatias, ortier, ortie, partie, 
repartie, rotie, sortie, sotie, sympathie, tutie, Claretie, Sarmatie, 
Hypatie, Pythie, and all other names with the Greek th. 

In all other cases ti is pronounced [si, sj], as suprematie 
[sypremasi], nuptial [nypsjal], patient [pasja], initier [inisje]. 


nous portions des portions [port j 5 de porsjo]. Many of these 
cases are spelt alike in English and French, but in English 
the ti is pronounced sh. 

151. When i is final, it is generally mute, but it is sounded 
in some cases, as follows : 
(i) In many monosyllables, such as ut, brut, chut [ft], dot, 
fat, tut, luth, mat} net, pat, rit, zut, est, ouest, Brest?- The 
following special cases should be noted : 
But, though normally pronounced [by] in Paris, is some- 
times [byt], especially when final or emphasized. Le 
hut [by] quHl s'est propose ; but, voild mon hut [byt] I 
Fait is generally [fe], but there is a tendency to pronounce 
it [fet] when final or emphasized, as fa, c^est un fait 
[fet]. It is also pronounced [fet] in the expressions 
dire son fait, au fait, si fait, par le fait, vote de fait, 
void le fait, il est de fait, je mets en fait, etc. But the t 
is never sounded in the plural, nor in tout-a-fait, en fait 
de, fait divers. 
Soit is pronounced [swat] when used adverbially as ex- 
pressing an affirmation or concession ('Be it so '), as 
vous le voulez ? Soit. But when it is used in verbal 
function, or as a conjunction denoting an alternative, 
it is pronounced [swa], as il faut quHl soit juste; soit 
Vun, soit V autre. 

(2) In learned words, especially those from the Latin, as 

accessit, aconit, deficit, exeat, indult, preterit, tacet, transit, 
zinith, vivat, etc. Christ is [krist], but JSsus Christ is always 
[3ezykri], except among a few Protestants. 

(3) In a few foreign words, as ballast, compost, knout, lest. 

Loth, malt, raout, toast, volt, whist, yacht [jot, jak], or 
[jat],^ entre le zist et le zest, and some foreign proper names, 
such as Japhet, Hirat, Rabat, Ghat, Cattigat, Calicut, etc.* 
Granit, an Italian word, hesitates between [grani] and [granit]. 

(4) In the terminations -ct, -pt, as abject, direct, infect, in- 

tellect, correct, compact, contact, tact, strict, abrupt, apt, rapt, 
concept. Hesitation, however, is shown in exact, suspect, 
circonspect, district, in all of which -ct is sometimes mute 

1 In mdt (mast), the t is mute. 

2 Sept, huit, vingt, cent are referred to in the chapter on numerals. 

3 Yacht is a Dutch word, and of the three forms of pronunciation 
[yak] is the oldest in French, and perhaps the best. 

* Goths is [go], as it is also in its compounds, Wisigoths, Ostrogoths. 



and sometimes sounded. In aspect, respect, instinct, amid, 
the -ct is always mute, as also in les freres Parfaict. The 
technical word anspect is [aspek], the t being here an ortho- 
graphic error. 
152. The student will understand that t is not pronounced 
in proper names commencing with the prefix Mont- before 
a consonant, as Montpellier [mopslje], Montparnasse, Mont- 
rouge, Montpensier. Nor is th pronounced in asthme [asm], 
isthme [ism], nor the t in posi-scripium [poskriptom] or 
postdater [posdate]. 


Ton th6 t'a-t-il ote ta toux ? 
Therese tacha de tisser du colon. 
Titine, tu tutoies tou jours ta tante. 

Tu travailles toute la matin6e. 
Tot ou tard, Thomas t'aimera. 
La petite Suzette est trop timide. 
Tu te repentiras de cet acte. 
S'est-il arrete a cote de toi ? 

to te tatil ote ta tu ? 
tereiz taja da tise dy koto, 
titin, ty tytwaij tu3u:r ta 

ty travaij tut la matine. 
tot u ta:r, toma temra. 
la p9tit suzet e tro timid, 
ty t9 rapatira da set akt. 
SEtil arete a kote da twa ? 

ti = [ti, 

Tiers, tierce, tien, un tiens, 
digestion, dynastie, amnistie, 
bastion, bestial, modestic, 
Sebastien, moitie, entier, 
frontiere, volontiers, hui- 
tieme, quanti^me, p6nul- 
tieme, nous gations, nous 
Editions, vous invitiez, ex- 
ceptiez, batie, rotie, garantie 

tJEir, tjers, tje, de tje, 
di38stj3, dinasti, amnisti, 
bastjo, bestjal, modesti, 
sebastje, mwatje, atje, 
frStjeir, volotje, qitjem, 
katjsm, penyltjem, nu 
gatjo, nuz edit] 3, vuz 
evitje, ekseptje, bati, rati, 

ti = [si, 

Ambitieux, balbutier, ration- 
nel, nation, Titien, inertie, 
aristocratic, diplomatic, pro- 
phetic, essentiel, martial, 
differentier, Beotie, Helvetic, 
Croatie, spartiate 

abisj0, balbysje, rasjonel, 
nasjo, tisjg, inersi, aris- 
tokrasi, diplomasi, pra- 
fesi, esasjel, marsjal, 
diferasje, beosi, elvesi, 
kroasi, spars j at 


Nous nous exemptions de re- 
tenue au moyen d'exemp- 

Vous n'avez pas I'intcntion 
que nous lui intentions un 
proces ? 

A ces objections nous objec- 
tions nous-memes beaucoup 
de choses. 

nu nu egzatja da rtany o 
mwaje d egzapsja. 

vu nave pa letasja ka nu 
Iqi etatjo de pross ? 

a sez ab3eks j a nuz ab38ktj a 
numsim boku d Jo:z. 




H6 bien, soit ! La fortune est 

mon but. 
Zut ! il dira son fait au fat. 
Una abstraction n'est qu'un 

II est abrupt mais strict en 

C'est le chemin direct de Brest. 

ebje, swat! lafortyn£m3 

zyt ! il dira so fet o fat. 
yn apstraksJD nekde kosept. 

il £t abrypt me strikt an 

s£ I9 Jgme direkt da brest. 

153. [d]. For the enunciation of this consonant in French, 
the formation of the organs is practically the same as for t, 
except that d is voiced, i.e. while the compressed breath is 
gathering in the mouth, the vocal chords vibrate, so that 
voice is uttered. As in the case of h, this vocal quality is 
an important adjunct, and students must see that it is pro- 
duced. If they have difficulty, practice should be made 
with [oed], until the consonant acquires plenty of voice, when 
the vowel can be dispensed with. 

154. Final d is pronounced in sud [syd], and in many 
foreign words and proper names, particularly those in which 
d is immediately preceded by a vowel, as yod, talmud, zend 
[zsid], ephod, Alfred, David, Madrid, Le Cid, Bagdad, Porte- 
Said, Sind [s8id], etc.^ 


Didon dina, dit-on, des os d'un 

Voici la dcmeure de Madame Didot. 

Ad61e devient decidement malade. 
Cet endroit est commode pour la 

Daniel a decide de m'en donner deux. 
Carlsbad, Conrad, Manfred, Sand, 

Leopold, Rothschild, le Sund. 

dido dina, dito, dez o doe dedS. 

vwasi la damoeir da madam 

a del davje desidema malad. 
set adrwa e komod pur la dwan. 

dan j el a deside dma done do. 
karlsbad, korad, mafred, said, 
leopold, rotjild, la soe:d. 

155. [k]. For the articulation of this consonant the back 
of the tongue is raised against the soft palate, causing com- 
plete obstruction of the breathing, and the explosiveness 
is produced when this obstruction is relaxed. The part of 

1 In mademoiselle, the d easily becomes mute in quick speech, but 
the omission of it is liardly correct. As for the pronunciation [mamzel], 
it is only used in a familiar or even impertinent sense. 


the soft palate touched, or point of articulation, varies 
according to the nature of the vowel following. It is farthest 
forward for [ki], and recedes gradually for [ke], [ka], [ko], 
[ku], but is never so far back in French as in English. In 
French, the tongue must keep near the front of the soft 
palate. Beginners may have some difficulty in doing this, 
but if they will think of [g], which is formed farther forward 
in English than [k], they will probably come nearer to the 
correct French articulation. 

156. As a rule, the letter k occurs in French only in foreign 
words (as yak, hock, koran, etc.), but the sound occurs very 
frequently, bein^ represented by c (raconter), qu (quatre), 
q [coq), X [exces), and ch (chretien) (§ 136). The letter c occurs 
most often. Before e, i, y, it takes the * soft ' sound [s], but 
it is pronounced ' hard ' [k] before a, 0, u, ou, ce (as car, 
cordeau, cure, cou, cceur), immediately before another con- 
sonant (as clef, croix, tocsin, accident), and at the end of words 
(as bloc, due, pare). 

When c comes at the end of a word, it is generally sounded, 
as in the words just mentioned (other examples are are, bee, 
chic, lac, muse, cognac, cric-crae), but it is mute at the end 
of the following words : broc,^ croc, accroc, escroc, raccroc, 
estomac, cotignac, eric (jack-screw), lacs, tabae, caoutchouc ; 
elere, mare, arc-boutant,^ arc-doubleau,^ Leclerc, Mauclere ; 
Saint- Brieue, bec-d'dne (bedan) ; and words ending in -nc 
{bane, hlanc, franc, fianc, jonc, trone, vainc, etc.), except zinc, 
which is pronounced [zEig], and some proper names such as 
Rane [raik]. Note also the following variations : 

Done has the c pronounced at the commencement of a sentence, 
introducing a conclusion (' therefore '), or when emphatic, 
as done [doik] nous nous sommes trompds. But otherwise 
it is pronounced [do] (' so,' ' now,' * then '), even before a 
vowel or at the end of a sentence, as it est done [do] parti ; 
allez done [do] ipargner ees gens-la ; taisez-vous done [do]. 

^chec has the c pronounced, as suhir un iehee [ejek], des ichees 
[ejek] inattendus. But many people do not pronounce the 
c when the word is plural, in referring to the game of chess, 
as jouer aux ichees [eje], although the suppression of it is 
quite out of date. 

1 The c is pronounced, however, in de brie et de broc. 

2 Architects, however, generally pronounce the c. 


Marc (proper name) has the c pronounced when used as a 
Christian name, or when referring to the evangelist, as 
Saini Marc [sSmark], but the c is often mute in le lion de 
Saint-Marc (at Venice), and in the place-name Saint-Marc. 

Pore is pronounced [poir] in most cases, but the c is sounded 
in porc-ipic [porkepik], and when the word is intended as 
an insult, as cet homme est un pore [pork]. 

157. The combination qu, though generally denoting 
simple [k] (as in qui, quel, qualite, quotient, quoique, turquoise, 
etc.), sometimes represents [kw] before a or and [kq] before 
e or i. This is specially so in learned or foreign words, 
most of them from Latin. Thus [kw] occurs in the Latin 
quadr- (as quadragesime, quadrature, quadrupede, etc.),^ and 
also in many other cases, such as aquatique [a.kwa.tik], aqua- 
relle [akwarsl], aquarium [akwarjom], equateur [ekwatoeir], 
quaker [kwakr], quartz [kwarts], square [skwair]. On the 
other hand, we have [kq] in such words as questure [kqsstyir], 
requiem [rekqiem], ubiquite [ybikqite], Quintilien [kqetiljg], 
etc.2 In some cases there is hesitation between the 
simple sound of k, and one of the other two ([kw] or [kq]). 
Thus we have : 

loquace ([k] or [kw]) 
quorum ([k] or [kw]) 
quasimodo([k] or [kw]) 
equitation ([k], rarely [kq]) 

quietisme ([k] or [kq]) 
6questre ([k] or [kq]) 
questure ([kq], rarely [k]) 
quintuple ([kq], rarely [k]) 


158. The letter x is usually pronounced [ks], as in fixer, 
vexer, axiome, Alexandre, xylographie, etc. This is so in the 
prefix ex- when it comes before a consonant (other than s 
or ' soft ' c), as in exclure, extase, explorer, etc. There is a 
tendency in careless or popular speech to pronounce the 
prefix as [ss] in such cases. Thus we hear esprimer, escuse, 
estreme, prendre I'espress, etc. Some teachers may be wrong 
in regarding this pronunciation as vulgar, for it certainly 

^ The word quadrille, a Spanish word, is [kadri:j]. 

 The pronunciation [kw] or [kq] was only introduced into French 
about the middle of the sixteenth century in the case of words borrowed 
from abroad. Previous to this, the letter u after a guttural was a mere 
graphic sign, qu in all cases being sounded as a simple [k] . Consequently, 
all words borrowed before this date, and all words of native French 
origin, preserve the [k] sound. • 


has traditional usage in its favour (the Latin ex- having in 
many instances first become es- and then e, as in etrange, 
ecluse), but it is a pronunciation that is confusing and strange 
to many people, and hardly to be recommended. 

When the prefix comes before s or ' soft ' c, it is simply 
pronounced [ek], as in exsuder, excellence, exciter, etc. ; and 
when it comes before a vowel or h ' mute/ it takes the sound 
[egz] or [egz] (see § 31 (3)), as in exiler, exercice, exhausser, 
exhorter [egzile, egzersis, egzose, egzorte].^ 

159. When x is final, it is sounded (being pronounced [ks]) in 
nouns when it is preceded by a single vowel in the ordinary 
spelling, or a nasal sound, as index [edsks], borax [boraks], 
codex [kodeks], larynx [lareiks], sphinx [sfeiks]. But it is 
not sounded after a diphthong, as choix [Jwa], choux [fu], paix 
[pe], je peux [39P0], Bordeaux [bordo], nor in crucifix, perdrix, 
prix, flux, afflux, reflux. It is sounded, however, in Aix 
[sks] and Dupleix [dypleks]. 

^ Also when initial in proper names, x generally takes the [gz] sound, 
as in Xavier, Xinophon, etc., although in Ximdnis and X^ris it is 
sounded [k], [kimcneis, kereis]. 


Claude coupe le crayon avec son 

Claire 6coute le caquet du coq. 
L'ecole technique a quatre classes. 
Quand comptez-vous 6crire k 

C16ment ? 
Combien ces quinze boucles coutent- 

elles ? 

klo:d kup la krejo avek so kuto. 

kleir ekut la kaks dy kok. 
1 ekol teknik a katra kla:s. 
ka kotevu ekrirr a klema ? 

kobjg se ke:z bukla kuttel ? 


Cet escroc a beaucoup de 

Le clerc a fait des lacs 

Le marc de raisin est dans 

le broc. 
Ces bancs de coraux sont 

Allez done jouer aux 


S£t Eskro a boku da taba. 
la klsir a fe de la d amuir. 
la mair da rezs e da la bro. 
se ba da koro so bla. 
ale do 3we oz eje. 



qu = [kw] 
qu = [kq] 


ex = [8k] 

Quai, quadrille, question, 
acqulrir, inquiet, li- 
quide, claque, Paques 

Equation, quatuor, squale, 
squameux, quadruple, 
quadrant, adequat 

Quinquag6naire, ubiquiste, 
quietude, Quirinal, 
Quinte - Curce, quin - 

Explication, excuse, ex- 
patrier, extra, extant, 
exposer, expulser, ex- 

Excentrique, excepte, ex- 
sangue, exceder, excise, 
exces, exciper 

Examen, exister, inexo- 
rable, exact, exil, exo- 
tique, exhumer 

ke, kadri:j, kestjo, akeri:r, 
ekje, likid, klak, pa:k 

ekwasjo, kwatqoir, skwal, 
skwam0, kwadrypl, kwadra, 

kr[ekwa3enE:r, ybikqist, 
kqetyd, kqirinal, kqetkyrs, 

eksplikasjo, ekskyiz, ekspatrie, 
ekstra, eksta, ekspoze, sks- 
pylse, ekspasif 

eksatrik, eksepte, eksaig, 
sksede, sksiiz, eksE, eksipe 

egzams, egziste, inegzorabl, 
egzakt, egzil, egzotik, 



Anthrax, lynx, onyx, 
phenix, Styx, Ajax, 
Felix, Pollux 

atraks, leiks, oniks, feniks, 
stiks, a3aks, feliks, polyks 

Heureux, faix, taux, je 
veux, Bayeux, Meaux, 
Morlaix, Trevoux 

oer0, fe, to, 39 V0, baj0, mo, 
morle, trevu 

160. [g]. This consonant is the voiced form corresponding 
to the unvoiced [k], and care should be taken that the vocal 
chords vibrate fully during its emission. 

It should be remembered that the phonetic symbol [g] 
does not represent the ' soft ' sound of g (before e, i, y), this 
being denoted by [3], but represents only the ' hard * sound, 
which occurs before a, 0, u (as galop, fagot, goulu, aigu), 
before e or tin foreign names {Hegel, Gibbon, etc.), immediately 
before another consonant except n (as grand, suggerer, Bagdad), 
and at the end of words (as grog, whig, Zadig). 

161. The combination gu followed by i or e is not always 
pronounced [gq]. As a rule, it is simply [g], the letter u 


being interpolated to harden the sound, as gue [ge], guise 
[giiz], anguille [Qgiij], tongue [loig], begue [beg]. But it is 
pronounced [gw] before a in a few learned or foreign words, 
as guano [gwano], la Guadeloupe [gwadlup], Ungual [legwal] ; 
and [gq] in the verb arguer, and before i in all derivatives 
from the stem aigu-, as well as before i in a few learned 
or foreign words, as arguer [argqe], aiguille [egqiij], amhiguite 
[abigqite], linguiste [legqist], Guyane [gqijan], Guy on [gqijo]. 
But in aiguiser there is hesitation between [gq] and [g], as 
there is also in Guise (proper noun). 

162. The letter g is not pronounced in the interior of 
some words, such as sangsue [sasy], signet [sine], vingt [ve], 
vingtieme [vet j em], doigt [dwa], doigter [dwate], Longwy 
[lowi]. Legs (a legacy) is generally [le], but many French 
speakers now pronounce the g [leg], which however is a mere 
adventitious letter due to a false etymology (the word is 
from laisser, not from the Latin tegatum). But as the word 
is a technical and juridical one, perhaps the pronunciation 
[leg], which respects the orthography, is the better of the 

163. At the end of a word g only occurs as a rule after 
a nasal vowel, or in bourg and its compounds. It is 
generally mute, as long [13], rang [ra], hareng [ard], bourg 
[buir], faubourg [fobuir], Cherbourg [ferbuir].! But it is 
pronounced in a few foreign words, as grog, whig, zig-zag, 
gong [goig], Liebig, lasting [last§ig], pouding [pudeig]. The 
word joug is correctly pronounced [3ug], although the pro- 
nunciation [3u] and [3uk] are also widespread. 

164f. Note that c is pronounced [g] in second and derivatives 
{seconder, secondaire, etc.), in zinc, and generally in the com- 
pound word reine-claude [ren-gloid], although in this last 
case the c is more and more asserting itself under the influence 
of orthography. 

^ But bourgmestre is [burgmsstr], and Bourg (name of place) is [burk]. 




Le gars Gaspard s'est 6gar6. 
C'est une guerre longue et grave. 
La gondole est guid6e par Guillaume. 
Gustave a 16gu6 ses gains aux gueux. 
Regardez le gros tigre k la grille. 

la ga gaspa:r set egare. 
set yn ge:r 15:g e graiv. 
la gSdol e gide par gijoim. 
gystaiv a lege se ^g g0. 
ragarde la gro tigr a la 

gu = [g] 

Gu^re, distingu6, orgue, dogue, 
langue, narguer, briguer 

ge:r, distlge, org, dog, 
la:g, narge, brige 

gu = [gw] 

Alguazil, Guatemala, Guadal- 

algwazil, gwatemala, gwa- 

gu = [gil] 

Aiguilleur, contiguity, exi- 
guity, arguant, inguinal, lin- 

egqijoeir, kotigqite, egzi- 
gqite, argqa, egqinal, 


J'ai achet6 des harengs dans le 

Mettez le signet k la vingti^me 

11 avait des sangsues sur le 

11 tient le premier rang k 

Le march6 de ce faubourg est 


3e ajte de ara da la bu:r. 

mete la sine a la vet j em 

il ave de sQsy syr la dwa. 

il tjg la pramje ra a 

la marje da sa fobu:r e 15. 


L'ivrogne marche en zig-zag. 
Les whigs sont partisans de la 

Le son du gong retentit au loin. 
Je ne les aime pas : ils boivent 

du grog. 
Beaucoup de legs deviennent 

des jougs. 

livroji marj a zigzag. 

le wig s3 partiza da la 

la s3 dy g3:g ratati lw§. 
3a n lez e:m pa, il bwa:v 

dy grog, 
boku da leg davjen de 3ug. 


165. This letter, when sounded, is a glottal fricative, 
i.e. it is the sound of the air passing out through the 
glottis before the vocal chords begin to vibrate for the 
following vowel. But it is not pronounced in France, 
except in a few provinces, such as Normandy, Lorraine, and 
Gascony. In these parts la halle, une haute montagne are 
pronounced [lahal], [yna hoit motaji]. Sometimes also 
Parisians unconsciously sound the h to avoid a hiatus, as 
la-haut [laho], and even insert it for the same purpose where 
it does not occur in writing, as fleau [fleho], cent un [sahde]. 
Normal speakers sound it in the interjections aha ! oho ! 
etc., and usually in certain words which require to be uttered 
energetically, as je hais, c'est une honte, it est tout haletant 
(compare * hattention ! ') 

But apart from the above instances, h is never pro- 
nounced now in good French. It has disappeared from 
cultured speaking since the middle of the seventeenth century, 
and only the sign h survives in the spelling. 

166. In spite of this fact, there are two varieties of h. 
i These are generally called * h |nutgj and * h aspirate,' but 

% , jrv these names are misleading, as they imply that h is sometimes 

yj J^ sounded. Better terms would be ' h conjunctive ' and 

• O,"^ * h disjunctive,' for the sole difference between the two is 

• ^ that the former is treated as if it were jio n-existent and thus 

f ^^f does not prevent elision and liaison, whUe the laffef is treated 

.^* as a regular ^consonaint anrl >4 ^eyents these thin gs. For 

i/- ^ instance, m neither of the words homme and heros is the h 

sounded, but the former is ' mute ' or conjunctive, and hence 

-V , we say V homme, les hommes [lez om], d l' homme, while the 

vy-Y A^ latter is ' aspirate ' or disjunctive, and so we say le heros [b 

. r ero], les heros [le ero], au heros. Similarly, we have un habit 



[oen abi], but un hameau [oe amo] ; en Hispanic [an ispani], 
but en Hollande [a olaid] ; en eau [an o], but en haul [a o]. 
The same remark applies to h in the interior of words. Thus, 
we have enherher [dnerbe], with the h 'mute,' but enhardir 
[aardiir], ahuri [ayri], dehors [daoir], with the h 'aspirate.' 

167. To the ordinary student, there is little means of 
knowing when an /^ is * aspirate.' There are nearly four 
hundred words of the kind in French, which allow neither 
elision nor liaison before them. As a rule, if a word 
beginning with h be from the Latin or Greek (this 
includes all in hy-, as hyperbole, etc.), the h is * mute,' but 
otherwise it is ' aspirate.' Hence we have Vhomme, I'herbe, 
Vhabilete, which are from Latin roots, but la harpe, la honte, la 
haine, which are of Teutonic origin. The principal exception 
to this rule is heros, in which the h is * aspirate,' but all its 
derivatives have h ' mute.' Thus, le heros, du heros, un heros 
[ce ero], but V heroine, de Vhero'isme, un hero'ique exemple [den 
eroik egzaipl] . The following list of words with h * aspirate ' 
may be useful. To this must be added all derivatives from 
these, and most foreign names beginning with h. 








hem ! 




































heros (not de- 























Havre (Le) 





















































hue ! 








' Aspirate ' 

Harold coupe la haie avec la hache. 
La horde s'enfuit k la hate. 

ie haranguais les dames de la halle. 
,es hiboux hantent la hutte. 
Je hais ce hussard : il hurle trop 

Le havresac de ce h6ros est en haillons. 
Le hibleur est hardi et honteux. 
II y a des houblons pr^ du hameau. 

arold kup la 8 avek la aj. 
la ord s afqi a la a:t. 
39 arSge le dam da la al. 
le ibu art la yt. 
39 E S9 ysa:r, il yrl tro o. 

la avrasak da sa ero et a aj 3. 
la abloe:r e ardi e 3t0. 
il j a de ubl3 pre dy amo. 



168. The six numerals cinq, six, sept, huit, neuf, dix, require 
special reference, so far as their final consonants are concerned, 
inasmuch as these consonants are sometimes mute and some- 
times sounded. When these numerals are used as nouns, 
or in dates,^ the final consonants are always sounded (x 
in this case being pronounced [s]), as [sEik, sis, set, qit, noef, 
dis] (see first and second columns below). When, however, 
they are used as adjectives, their final consonants are mute 
before another consonant or h ' aspirate,' but are carried 
forward in liaison before a vowel or h * mute,' x in this case 
becoming [z], and / becoming [v]. (See third and fourth 
columns.) Thus : 

Nouns 2 

In dates 

A djectives 
{before con- 

A djectives 
{before vowel) 

11 en^a cinq [sesk] 

lis sont six [sis] 
Combien ? Sept 

J 'en ai huit [qit] 

6tez sept [set] de 
neuf [noef] 

Ajoutez-en dix 

Le cinq [se:k] 

Le six [sis] avril 
Le sept [set] mai 

Le huit [qit] 

Le neuf [noef] 

Le dix [dis] 


Cinq [se] francs 

Six [si] kilos 
Sept [se] chaises 

Huit [qi] livres 

Neuf [noe] ^ mai- 

Dix (di) ho- 


Cinq [sEik] amis 

Six [siz] hommes 
Sept [set] oeufs 

Huit [qit] oies 

Neuf [noev] ^ 

Dix [diz] 


1 When used in dates, the numerals are really nouns. Le neuf mai, 
e.g., is in reality an abridgement for le neuf de mai. 

* Similarly, le six [sis] de cceur, le sept [set] du mois, Charles VIII 
[qit], le neuf [noef] de cceur, un dix [dis] en chiffres, etc., where the 
numerals are nouns. 

^ Neuf before a consonant, and also when the / becomes [v] in liaison, 
is pronounced with close vowel [0] by many people, as neuf maisons 
[n0 mezo], neuf ans [nov a]. 

141 . 


The word neuf, however, when used as an adjective 
before a vowel, does not always change / into [v]. It does 
so in neuf ans, neuf heures, and frequently neuf hommes, 
but there is a tendency in all other combinations to preserve 
it as [noef], as in neuf amis, neuf enfants, etc. The word 
sept shows the same tendency when used as an adjective 
before a consonant. In this case, instead of [se], many good 
speakers pronounce it [set], so as to avoid confusion with 
ces, ses, as sept chaises [set Jeiz]. 

169. The numeral vingt follows the same rules as the above 
six, except that when used as a noun its final consonants 
are generally mute, so that we have il y en a vingt [ve], le 
vingt [veit] mai, vingt [ve] femmes, vingt [veit] abricots. Note 
also that, contrary to rule, the t is sounded in the numbers 
twenty-one to twenty-nine, although not in compounds, as 
vingt-deux [vetd0], vingt-cinq [vetseik], but quatre-vingt-deux 
[ved0], quatre-vingt-cinq [veseik].^ 

170. The numerals deux, trois, cent have their final con- 
sonants mute in all conditions except when coming as 
adjectives before a vowel or h ' mute.' In the latter case liaison 
takes place, and the final consonant is carried forward, as 
deux heures [d0z oeir], trois amis [trwaz ami], cent hommes 
[sat om], deux cents etoiles [6.0 saz etwal]. It should be 
remembered, however, that while liaison and elision thus 
take place after numerals, none can take place before them, 
so that we must say les deux onze [d0 5iz], les trois huits 
[trwa qit], cent un [sa de], cent unieme [sa ynjem], etc.^ 

As the remaining numerals, except un, end in e mute, 
their final consonants occasion no difficulty.^ 

^ The reason for this is that if the t were sounded, e.g. in quatre- 
vingt-deux, this would mean four times twenty-two, instead of four 
times twenty, plus two. 

2 But liaison takes place in dix-huit and in the combination mesure 
d, six-huit [sizqit]. 

3 In olden times, when the final consonant was pronounced in all 
nouns of number (including vingt, deux, trois, etc.), un was pronounced 
[oen]. Even yet musicians beat time by une, deux [yn, d0], time is 
marked at drill by une, deux [yn, d0:s], and we have such expressions 
as ne faire ni une ni deux, en donner une ^ quelqu'un, etc., which are 
survivals of the old pronunciation. 

The numeral un should be distinguished from the article un. The 
former, as indicated above, allows no elision or liaison before it, as 
le un et puis le cinq [l9 oe], quatre-vingt-un [katraveoe]. 




Le cinq mai j'ai gagne six francs. 
Voulez-vous neuf livres ? Je n'en ai 

que six. 
Le huit mars nous 6tions neuf. 
Ces cinq epingles valent dix centimes. 
Le six aout dix ou douze sont arrives. 
Otez cinq de huit, reste trois. 
J'ai cinq cigares et dix allumettes. 
Le neuf mai, elle aura neuf ans. 
Voici sept jouets pour les sept en- 

II est mort le dix avril, k six heures. 
J'ai huit poires et huit abricots. 
Le sept Janvier nous en avons vendu 

Voici neuf ceufs pour les neuf hommes 

I9 sE:k me 36 gajie si fra. 
vulevu nee li:vr ? 39 nan 

e k sis. 
la qit mars nuz etjo noef. 
se sek epeigla val di satim. 
\d sis u dis u du:z sot arive. 
ote s£:k da qit, rssta trwa. 
3e se siga:r e diz alymet. 
la ncEf me, el ora ncev a. 
vwasi se 3we pur le set afa. 

il e mo:r la dis avril, a siz oeir. 

3e qi pwair e qit abriko, 

la set 3avje nuz an avo vady 

vwasi noef pur le ncev om. 

Exercises on vingt 

Vingt soldats ont ete blesses. 
Maurice m'a donne vingt ecus. 
Vous avez quatre-vingt francs, don- 

nez-m'en vingt. 
J'ai compte vingt-huit oiseaux. 

ve solda 5t ete blese. 
moris ma done vet eky. 
vuzave katrave fra, donema 

3e kote vetqit wazo. 

Exercises on deux, trois, cent 

Les trois hussards ont pique des deux. 
II y a cent soldats dans la caserne. 
Mes deux amis partent h. trois heures. 
Les trois hommes ont plante cent 

II a prete k cinq pour cent. 

le trwa ysa:r 5 pike de do. 
il j a sa solda da la kazern. 
me doz ami part a trwaz oe:r. 
le trwaz om 5 plate sat arbr. 

il a prete a se pur sa. 

No Liaison 

II y avait quatre cent onze hommes. 
II a appris la page cent un. 
J'ai quatre-vingt-un francs. 

il j ave katra sa 5:z om. 
il a apri la pa:3 sa de. 
3e katraveoe fra. 


171. As a rule, the double consonants of common spelling 
are simply pronounced as a single one.^ Thus, grammaire 
[grameir], ahhe [abe], affaire [afeir], nommer [nome]. Other 
examples are : 

Accroc, allee, arret, annee, abbaye, accabler, addition, 
aggraver, appas, commerce, commis, casser, fourrure, prudem- 
ment, sommet, souffrir. 

The doubling of [j] in such forms as nous croyions [krwaj-jo], 
vous voyiez [vwaj-je] is held by some teachers to be artificial 
and pedantic. But the best speakers undoubtedly double 
it, even in rapid speech, pronouncing croyions [krwaj-jo] 
as distinct from croyons [krwajo]. 

172. At the same time, ' double ' consonants occur 
frequently in French, although not so often as in Norwegian 
or Italian. They are not really double, however, in the sense 
of being uttered twice, but are merely a lengthening or 
prolongation of the sound. That is, the commencement of 
the consonant, instead of being immediately followed by 
the explosive finish, is separated from it by an interval 
more or less long, during which the air presses with increasing 
force against the obstruction. Compare the English words 
wholly, meanness, oneness, missend, etc. Such double con- 
sonants in French fall under four categories : 

(i) Certain grammatical forms, as je courrai [kurie],^ 
nous mourrons [murio], je requerrai [raksrie]. Under this 
class are included the futures and conditionals of courir 

1 The same rule applies in English, as ejfort, abbey, litter, etc. 

* It is not usual in phonetic transcript to indicate lengthening of 
consonants, but the sign (:) may be used for this purpose, or the con- 
sonantal symbol doubled. 



(and derivatives), of mourir, and of compounds of querir 
(acquerir, requerir, etc.). The lengthening in such cases is 
a means of distinguishing tenses, as il mourait and il mourrait, 
nous courons and nous courrons. 

(2) Words in which e mute is elided, thus bringing 
the two consonants together, as nettete [netie], extremement 
[ekstremid], il server a [sen a]. Similarly, one sometimes hears 
tout a Vheure popularly contracted to [tia loeir]. If there is 
any difficulty in * doubling ' the consonant in these cases, 
one is better by far to sound the elided vowel than to produce 
such combinations as nete, extrement, etc., or to say la dent 
for Id-dedans. 

(3) When two words meet, the first word ending and 
the second beginning- with the same consonant, as robe 
blanche [rob bldij], chaque quartier [fak kartje], partir resolument 
[partiir rezolymd], pour rien [pur rje]. It is very important 
that such consonants should be well lengthened, otherwise 
confusion results. In the following table, for example, there 
is nothing to distinguish one expression from the other except 
the lengthening of the consonant : 

Pas 9a 

lis m'ont tous 

Les jetees 

Les doux zouaves 

Chaque abri 

(4) In the interior of learned or rare words, par- 
ticularly in the case of the letters /, m, n, r, s, t, p, d, as malleable 
[malieabl], mammifere [mamiifeir], decennal [dessnial], errer 
[erie], iessiture [tesiityir], attique [atiik], appetence [apietais], 
reddition [rsdiisjo]. In this class are included, as a rule, 
many words beginning in ill-, imm-, inn-, irr- (all four 
representing the Latin prefix in-), and a few in com-, as 
illegal, illegitime, immigration, immortel, innervation, irreligion, 
irruption, commuer, etc. Further examples are here given : 

[1 :] Allah, Apollon, allegorie, allusion, appellatif, alliteration, 
belliqueux, belligerant, collateral, collision, constellation, 
ellipse, foUicule, gallicisme, parallele, pellicula, maxillaire, 
syllabe, solliciter, villa. 

[m :] Ammon, Emma, Emmaiis, gamma, mammaire, mammoth, 
sommaire, summum. 

[n:] Annuel, annexe, Anna, annihiler, annotation, annular, 

11 1'a dit 

11 a dit 

Passe 9a 

Toute triste 

Tout triste 

lis montent tous 

Une noix 

Une oie 

L'ai-je jete 

Elle lut 

Elle eut 

Les douze zouaves 


C'est la 

Chaque cabri 



connexe, connivence, cannibale, Cinna, innocuite, innom^, 
Linn^, Porsenna. 

[r :] Irrespectueux, horreur, terreur, narrer, errata, corregidor, 
Pyrrhus, Urraque. 

[s :] L'Assyrie (distinguished from La Syrie), assoupir, assouplir, 
asservir, assomption, classique, dissemblable, Nessus.^ 

[t:] Attitude, atticisme, battologie, dilettante, guttural, ven- 
[p :] [d :] Appius, adduction, Adda, Eddas, quidditd, appendice, 
appetence, appogiature. 

173. In the first three categories above, the doubling 
or lengthening of the consonant is obligatory, and should be 
quite marked. In the last category, however, there is 
hesitation. Indeed, many of the words there mentioned 
are pronounced with a single consonant by a large number of 
speakers. The doubling of a consonant in the interior of a 
word, unless to avoid confusion, is contrary to the tradition 
of the French language, which has simplified all double 
consonants in words of native origin. The lengthening 
should be strictly confined to learned, rare, or special 
words ; it is distasteful and pedantic when employed in words 
which are in eveiyday use and have become familiar. Hence 
many good speakers pronounce the consonants as single, 
not only in many of the cases above, but especially in such 
words as : 

Immense, immeuble, immoler, illustre, innovation, illogique, 
inne, impeccable, alleguer, annales, college, commentaire, 
commiseration, effraction, hippodrome, etc. 

If any rule of guidance is needed, it may be said that the 
doubling of the consonant should be employed in particular 
when one wishes to express emphasis, or some emotion 

such as disgust, fear, admiration, irony, anger, etc. Thus, we 
may express emphasis in lit-terature ; disgust in il me fait 
hor-reur ; fear in ter-reur 1 ; admiration in cet il-lusire 
savant ; elegance in as-soupli ; etc. But otherwise the 
doubling of the consonants under the last category is not 
frequent in good French, except among rather illiterate people 

1 Cases where s is pronounced double should not be confused with 
ordinary double s in such words as mission, richissime, massacre, where 
the -ss- is merely the orthographic sign of unvoiced s. 



who affect to speak well, and upon whom the ordinary 
orthography has a growing influence in this matter as in 
many others (such as final consonants, etc.). 



Je mourrai, tu mourras, il mourra. 

Le cheval ne courra pas aujourd'hui. 

II encourrait mon indignation, s'il 
faisait cela. 

II s'enquerra de la v6rit6 du fait. 

Nous nous entre-secourrons toujours. 

Le g6n6ral reconquerra cette pro- 

Nous recourrons k la cl6mence du roi, 

II mourrait, si vous ne le soigniez pas, 

Je vous requerrai d' insurer toute ma 

II acquerrait des talents, s'il etait 

II vous requerra de partir, si vous 




Vous tirerez satisfaction 

II barrerait cette route, si vous 

La verrerie est I'art de faire le verre. 
L'embaumement 6tait pratiqu6 par 

les figyptiens. 
II serrerait la recolte, s'il faisait beau 



Cet Arabe basan6 a une haute taille. 
II faisait du soleil hier. 
Voil^ des mceurs singuli^res. 
J'aime mieux une lame mince, 
Donne-nous I'histoire romaine, 
Tu f aches Charles, ote-toi d'ici. 
Remarque que tu te trompes. 
II passe son temps k lire. 
Jeanne ne coupe pas dedans. 

39 murre, ty muria, il mur:a. 
la Javal no kur:a pa o3urdqi, 
il Qkurie mon gdijiasjo, sil 

faze sala. 
il sakeria da la verite dy fet. 
nu nuz atras9kur:3 tu3u:r, 
la 3eneral rakokeria sst proveis. 

nu rakur:3 a la klemais dy rwa. 
il mur:s, si vu na la swajije pa. 
3a vu rakerie d esere tut ma 

il akerie de tala, sil ets diH3a, 

il vu raker :a da parti :r, si vu 

vu tirje satisfaksjS da set 

il bane set rut, si vu lofasje. 

la ver:i e la:r da fe:r la ve:r. 
labom:a ete pratike par lez 

il ser:e la rekolt, sil faze bo ta. 

set arab bazane a yna oit ta:j, 
il faze dy soleij jeir. 
vwala de mcers segyljeir. 
3e:m mj0 yn lam me:s. 
doniu listwair romen, 
ty fa: J Jarl, o:t:wa disi. 
ramark ka ty ta tro:p. 
il pa:s son tQ a liir. 
3a:n na kup pa dada. 




174. So far we have considered the pronunciation of 
separate words, independent the one of the other. But this 
is not enough for correct speech, as many words, when they 
take their place in a sentence, require their pronunciation to 
be modified according to their position and relative importance. 
Individual words have to form themselves into groups, and 
groups into sentences, all which leads to changes in the sounds. 
Thus, the word semaine by itself is pronounced [samsn] in 
the dictionary, but if preceded by the article it becomes [smsn] 
in conversation ; de by itself is pronounced [d9], but it 
becomes a simple [t] in chemin de fer, de temps en temps, etc. ; 
and magnifique, like all French words, has normally the 
stress on the last syllable, but when emphasized, as in vol 
magnifique, it takes the stress on the first. We may say 
generally that almost every sound is influenced to some extent 
by neighbouring sounds. There is not merely juxtaposition, 
but to some extent ' compenetration ' ; and hence it is not 
sufficient to know the pronunciation of individual words : 
their pronunciation in relation to each other has to be 
understood. In the following chapters we shall explain what 
modifications of sound become necessary when words are 
formed into connected speech. 

175. The most numerous and important changes which 
take place in the pronunciation of words are due to changes in 
their form, owing to the elision of the so-called e mute (or 
e caduc) sound. In many cases this indeterminate sound 
is quite clearly pronounced, as in le jardin, demain, de pres, 
etc. ; but at other times it happens to come into certain 
positions where it is usually elided, at least in the general 



flow of conversation, as dans le jar din [dd 1 3ardE], apres- 
demain [apre dme], tout de prds [tu d pre]. In some cases 
the elision is apparent in the ordinary speUing, the letter 
itself being omitted (e.g. Vhomme, qu'avez-vous, etc.), but in a 
much larger number of cases the letter remains while the sound 
is elided. The fact is that the e mute, which only occurs in 
open unstressed syllables, is of such little consequence that it 
is suppressed as often as convenient. The question of when 
to suppress it is one of the greatest difficulties that beginners 
have. Frequently they suppress an e mute which the French 
pronounce, and this is a much worse fault than pronounc- 
ing one which is generally suppressed. At all events, the 
beginner's choice in the matter is rarely a happy one, and he 
would be well advised to study this subject thoroughly. It 
is impossible to lay down precise rules, as the elision of the 
sound often depends on taste, on the degree of emotion, or 
on the rate of utterance, and varies not only in the speech 
of different people, but frequently in that of the same in- 
dividual. There are certain definite principles, however, 
which we propose to mention for the student's guidance. It 
requires to be emphasized that these principles apply only 
to familiar and current conversation, inasmuch as the 
slower or more emphatic or more elevated the speech is, the 
less does elision take place. Learners would do well to 
elide little until rapidity of speech makes elision natural. 

'^ 176. The general principle is that the e mute sound is 
elided in all cases, except where its elision would bring 
three or more consonants together. This is known as the 
Law of the Three Consonants. The name thus given is 
perhaps too strict, as the principle is hardly a ' law,' but 
it at least amounts to a very general tendency manifesting 
itself in the great majority of cases. Thus, we have les 
ch{e)vaux [le Jvo], la cite d(e) Paris [la site d Pari], but plusieurs 
chevaux [plyzjoeir Javo], la ville de Paris [la vil da Pari]. Note" 
that, as we are dealing with the language phonetically, the 
student must understand by * consonants ' pronounced 

177. The principle may be more clearly stated under two 
rules : 

(i) When an e mute is separated from the pre- 



ceding vowel 
elided, as : 

by one consonant only, it is always 

La p(e)tite [la ptit]. 

Le ch(e)val [I9 Jval]. 

Tout 1(e) monde [tu 1 moid]. 

Rach(e)ter [rajte]. 

J'aim(e)rai [38mre]. 

Tu d(e)mandes [ty dmaid]. 

Au r(e)voir [0 rvwair]. 

C'est lui qui 1(e) dit [ss Iqi ki 1 


Tous mes r(e)grets [tu me rgre]. 
II n'a pas d(e) scrupules [il na pa 

d skrypyl]. 
Point d(e) viande [pw£ d vjctid]. 
C'est c(e) qui fait mal [ss ski fs 

Va t(e) coucher [va t kuje]. 
C'est c(e)pendant droit [ss spddci 


It is in virtue of this rule that the e mute sound is elided 
at the end of certain words, as un{e), dam{e), homm(e) , fair{e) , 
collin{e), etc. Further examples of the rule are here given : 

Brac(e)let, pel(e)rin, la p(e)louse, sur(e)te, mull(e)tier, 
bonn(e)tier, souv(e)nir, viv(e)ment, even(e)ment^ chaud(e)- 
ment, om(e)lette, bull(e)tin, el(e)ver, pal(e)tot, mad(e)moiselle, 
a d(e)mi, je donn(e)rai, tu r(e)tournes, le bouquet d(e) 
prim(e)veres, le mari d(e) madame^ est-c(e) vrai, vous m(e) 
permettez, rue d(e) la Paix^ le roi d(e) Gr^ce, on n(e) veut 
pas, dans 1(e) bois, donnez-moi 1(e) specimen. 

(2) When e mute is separated from the preceding 
vowel by two or more consonants {i.e. two or more 
different ones), it is generally sounded,^ as : 

La riviere de diamants [la 

rivjeir d9 djama]. 
Un OS de poulet [den os d9 puis]. 
Une chaise de salon [yn Jsiz d9 

Un soleil levant [de solsij bva]. 
Ordre du jour [ordr9 dy 3uir]. 

Quelquefois [kElk9fwa]. 
Ventrebleu [vdtr9bl0]. 
Je rentrerai [39 ratr9re]. 
Entreprise [atr9priiz]. 
Tristement [trist9ma]. 
Arbre vert [arbr9 vsir]. 
La femme de chambre [la fam 

An e which is elided under rule (i) is of course regarded as 
non-existent, so that we have two consonants together in such 
cases as un(e) demoiselle, un{e) fenetre, on n{e) le voit pas, il 
mang(e) le pain, etc. 

^ In careless or rapid speech there are divergencies from this rule, 
especially in the case of final e mute see §§ 186, 187). 


Further examples of rule (2) are here given for practice : 

Premier, aprete, justement, exactement, porte-croix, porte- 
plume, sobrement, parlement, gouvernement, puisque tu 
veux, presque tous, quelque chose, cett(e) fenetre, ch^r(e) 
petite, Paul refuse, un verr(e) de vin, une longu(e) semaine, 
un porte-bonheur, table d'hote, un artiste-peintre. 

178. As a sounded e mute is equal in value to an ordinary 
vowel, it is evident that the above rules may be applied to 
several syllables in succession, and thus extended indefinitely. 
For example : 

Qu'est-c(e) que j(e) te disais ? 
Nous n(e) te 1(e) demandons pas. 
Qa n(e) te r(e)garde pas. 
II se r(e)pose pr^s d(e) la ch(e)- 

Vous n(e) le d(e)venez pas. 

kes ka 3 t9 dize ? 

nu n t9 1 damado pa. 

sa n t9 rgarda pa. 

il s9 rpoiz pre d la /mine. 

vu n I9 dv9ne pa. 

-J The ' Law ' of the Three Consonants, however, as we have 
stated, is not absolute under all conditions. It has ex- 
ceptions, and there are also cases where it is inapplicable, 
and where other treatment is required. We proceed in the 
rest of this chapter to explain these special cases. 

I. Initial Syllables 

179. If e mute occurs in the first, or first and second 
syllables of a phrase (as in ]e nCen vats, je ne sais pas), 
its elision depends on the nature of the consonants accom- 
panying it : 

(i) When it occurs in the first syllable only, it is 
generally elided if the preceding consonant is a non- 
explosive, but it is sounded if it is an explosive (p, b, t, d, 

k, g), as j{e) vous remercie, c{e) n'est pas ga; but, te visite-t-il ? 
que pensez-vous ? The reason is that non-explosive consonants 
can be uttered without a pause (hence called continues by 
the French), while explosives stop suddenly (hence called 
momantanees) and require a vowel to sustain them. Further 
examples : 



Te faches-tu [t9 fai/ty] ? 
Te trouves-tu bien [t9 truivty 

bJE] ? 

Que faites-vous [ka fetvuj ? 

De pr^s, c'est beau [d9 pre, se 

De ill vient ma peine [d9 la vje 

ma pen]. 
Que m'importe [k9 meport] 
Te faut-il ceci [ta fotil S9si] ? 

J(e) t'6coute [3 tekut]. 
J(e) donne mon temps [3 don mo 

J(e) cherche a plaire [3 JerJ a 

C(e) papier est a moi [s papje et 

a mwa]. 
N(e) faites pas la belle [n fet pa 

la bel]. 
L(e)vez-vous [Ivevu]. 
J(e) cr^ve de faim [3 kreiv d9 fe]. 

At the same time, when clearness is necessary, the e in the 
first ca se should be sounded, and especially when it comes 
between two identical consonants, as /e jeite, ce sucre est 
brut ; and in the second case, it may be elided before a non- 
plosive, as qu{e) voulez-vous ? It is eUded in such words as 
p{e)lote, p[e)loton, p{e)louse, p{e)luche, p{e)lure, b{e)lette, etc., 
where a natural group of consonants comes together. 
-^ (2) When it occurs in both the first and second syllables, 
the * Law * of Three Consonants becomes applicable, 
and by virtue of rule (i) of that ' law,' the second e is 
elided, as que r{e)gardez-vous ? je n{e) sais Hen, que t[e)nez-vous ? 
But note an important exception, viz., that if the first con- 
sonant be a non-explosive and the second an explosive, it is 
the first e that is elided, as j(e) te trouve bien, c(e) petit gargon. 
Further examples : 

Second e elided 
Que n(e) vas-tu pas [k9 n vaty 

Que j(e)tez-vous [k9 3tevu] ? 
Je n(e) peux pas marcher [39 n 

p0 pa marje]. 
Je 1(e) tiendrai [39 1 tjedre]. 
Je 1(e) connais [39 1 kone]. 
Te 1(e) donne-t-il [t9 1 dontil] ? 
Te 1(e) rappelles-tu [t9 1 rapelty] ? 
Dev(e)nez plus sage [d9vne ply 

Rec(e)vez ma sympathie [r9sve 

ma sepati]. 

First e elided 
J(e) deviens riche [3 d9vje rij]. 
J(e) te vois jouer [3 t9 vwa 3we]. 
N(e) te leve pas [n t9 leiv pa]. 
N(e) te I'ai-je pas dit [n t9 lei3 

pa di]. 
N(e) te fache pas [n t9 faij pa]. 
C(e) que j(e) dis, c'est vrai [sk9 

3 di, se vre], 
C(e) que c(e)la signifie, j(e) te 1(e) 

dirai [sk9 sla sijiifi, 3 te 1 dire]. 
J(e) te 1(e) red(e)vrai [3 t9 1 

J(e)te l(e ) propose [3 19 1 propoiz]. 



2. Fixed Groups 

^180. It happens that when some groups of two syllables, 
each containing an e mute (e.g. je ne) are pronounced in a 
certain form initially, they retain this form in the interior 
of sentences, where the strict application of the rules would 
act otherwise. Thus, as already seen, the group je ne,^ when 
occurring initially, is pronounced je n{e), and hence it pre- 
serves this form of pronunciation, if at all possible, in all 
other positions, as : 

ska 39n v0 pa. 

8s k9 39n l9 kone pa ? 

si 39n p0 partiir, S8 domai3. 

si 39m deple isi, 39 partire. 
ka 39m fajre, 39I grodre. 

3ire Je Iqi, e 39I propozre. 

C(e) que je n(e) veux pas. 
Est-c(e) que je n(e) le connais 

pas ? 
Si je n(e) peux partir, c'est 


The same is true of at least two other groups, je m{e), and 
je 1(e), as : 

Si je m (e) deplais ici, je partirai. 
Quand je m(e) facherai^ je 1(e) 

J'irai chez lui, et je 1(e) pro- 


These three groups referred to are largely fixed ones, for 
which a form with [9] in the second syllable is not normal. 
When we reflect that the pronoun je, though occurring in 
the interior of a sentence, generally commences a new pro- 
position or statement, and is thus practically equivalent 
to an initial word, we can understand the fixity of the com- 
binations. The group je ne, which is the commonest of all, 
is so definitely fixed that the form j{e) ne would hardly be 
regarded as French. The groups je me and je le occasionally 
take the other form in obedience to the general rule, although 
the fixed form is the more frequent. We might say, e.g. et j{e) 
le proposerai, si j{e) me deplais ici, etc., but the other forms 
^ are more usual. 

181. There are several other groups of two syllables which 
have their origin in the interior of sentences, but which 
are nevertheless fairly well fixed, such as que j{e), que 
l{e), de l[e), de n[e), te l{e). They owe this form to the fact 



that in the large majority of cases they follow a consonant, 
being frequent in such phrases as est que j{e) . . ., parce 
que j{e) . . ., puisque j{e) . , ., tout c{e) que j{e) . . ., 
est-ce que l{e) . . ., etc. The group que j{e) in particular is 
well fixed, but the rest often succumb to the general rule 
when they come into conflict with it. Examples : 

Voulez-vous que j(e) parte ? 
II a decide de n(e) pas sortir. 
II a ete forc6 de 1(e) punir. 
II croit que 1(e) combat est 

Je veux te 1(e) demander. 
Voulez-vous que j(e) lui ecrive ? 
Je veux que 1(e) gargon vienne. 
II a tachi de 1(e) sauver. 
lis ont choisi de n(e) pas rester. 
A-t-on ose te 1(e) dire ? 

vulevu k93 part ? 
il a deside don pa sortiir. 
il a ete forse dal pyniir. 
il krwa kol koba 8 nesEsEir. 

59 v0 t9l d9made. 
vulevu k93 Iqi ekriiv ? 
39 v0 k9l garso vjen. 
il a tcje d9l sove. 
ilz 3 Jwazi d9n pa rsste. 
ato oze tgl diir ? 

182. A few other groups, such as que d{e), de m{e), etc., 
have a tendency to appear fixed, but are much less so than 
those already mentioned. Thus, we may say il a envie de 
m{e) plaire, or il a envie d{e) me plaire, either form being 
equally good. 

"' 183. Note that when two groups come into conflict, the 
more stable of the two maintains itself. In this respect 
je n{e) is the strongest of all, as : 

Voulez-vous qu(e) je n(e) le dise 

pas ? 
Tu vois qu(e) je n(e) te 1(e) 

demande pas. 
II croit qu(e) je n(e) te 1(e) 

red(e)mand(e)rai pas. 

vulevu k 39n I9 diiz pa ? 
ty vwa k 39n t9l d9maid pa. 
il krwa k 39n tol rodmadre pa. 

3. The Prefix RE- 

/ 184. When this prefix is preceded by a monosyllable 
• containing e mute (such as je, te, me, le, etc.), the mono- 
; syllable generally retains its e, and the one in re- is elided, as : 


Cette eau se r(e)froidit. 

Jean se r(e)pose sur ses lauriers. 

Cet ecolier se r(e)lache. 

J'ai tente de r(e)commencer. 

L'affaire ne te r(e)garde pas. 

C'est le r(e)venu foncier. 

Je r(e)tourne ce matin. 

set S9 rfrwadi. 
3a S9 rpoiz syr se brje. 
set akolje s9 rlaij. 
30 tate d9 rkomase. 
lafeir n9 t9 rgard pa. 
se I9 rv9ny fosje. 
39 rtum S9 mate. 


If, however, a fixed group of a fairly strong type, such as 
^e ne, etc., immediately precedes re-, the group retains its 
form, with the result that the e of re- remains, as : 

Tu croyais qu(e) je n(e) revien- 

drais pas. 
J'ai dit qu(e) je n(e) retour- 

nerais pas. 
II choisit de n(e) ret(e)nir ni 

Tun ni I'autre. 

ty krwaje k 39n r9vjedre pa. 

3e di k 39n raturngre pa 

il /wazi dan ratniir ni Ide ni 

But where the group is less stable, it gives way before re-, 
as j{e) me r{e)pose, j{e) le r{e)tiendrai, etc. 


4. The [5] Sound followed by E 'Mute' 

185. It happens that three consonants, or four if the last 
be r or /, can easily be pronounced together if the second one 
1 is s (or c * soft '), as in abstinence, ahstrait, expirer (ksp), 
\ rair stupide, etc. This being so, there is no need for an 
e mute after the s sound, and it is consequently elided, as 
U_s{e)ra, Arthur s{e) moque de moi, je Vai dit parc{e) que 
c'etait vrai, Us comprennent c{e) que c'est, il s{e) trouve bien. 
/ If there be an e mute after the first of the three consonants, 
it is elided also, under rule (i) of the general ' law,' so that 
in this case too we have [s] standing between two or three 
consonants, as il n'y a pas d{e) s(e)cours, je n'ai pas d{e) 
s{e)cret, Henri n(e) s{e) lamente pas. In ordinary con versa- \ 
tion, indeed, the e of se or ce is never retained except before / 
the prefix re-. Further examples : ^ 

Ces deux amis n(e) s(e) con- 

naissent pas. 
Nous travaillons mieux qu(e) 


se d0z ami n s koneis pa. 
nu travajo mj0 k sla. 


il sa3i d slqi ki a fe 1 mal. 

Iwi n s dut pa d ska vu fet. 

3 v0 parle d sk9 nu savo^ 

II s'agit d(e) c(e)lui qui a fait le 

Louis n(e) s(e) doute pas d(e) 

c(e) que vous faites. 
Je veux parler d(e) c(e) que nous 


It will be noticed that c{e) que is a fixed group, for even 
though it follows a vowel instead of a consonant (as je sais 
c{e) que vous dites), the first e is elided according to the 
general rule. The pronunciation ce qu{e) which is sometimes 
heard is not good French. 

5. Final E Mute, after a Consonantal Group 

186. When final e mute is preceded by a group of two con- 
sonants (as in quatre, feuple, reste, etc.), it may or may not 
be elided as the speaker chooses. The following observations 
will make the matter clear : 

If the last consonant is a liquid (r or 1), there are 
three courses open : 

(i) In careful speech the e mute is sounded in all cases, 

in accordance with the general rule, unless before 
a vowel, as pauvre France, autres temps auires moetirs, 
la noble Belgique, faire table rase, un obstacle 

In this connexion, beginners should guard against the e 
mute sound creeping in before the liquid instead of after it, 
as it always does in English words of the same kind (e.g. 
theatre, possible, etc.). Oracle, ancre, centre, etc., must not 
be pronounced [oraikal, aikor, saitgr], but [oraikla, aikra, 
saitrg], not the least breath-sound being heard between the 
two consonants. 

(2) In less careful conversation, the e mute may be 
elided, and the liquid becomes reduced, completely 
losing its voice after a voiceless consonant, and partially 
losing it in other cases, as in the words quatre [katr], 
poudre [pudf], peuple [poepl], seigle [ssgl]. In such 
cases the liquid is too weak to form a separate syllable, 
and becomes part of the previous one. Examples : 


lis ont la fievr(e) politique. 
Cela peut lui etr(e) bien utile. 
II montr(e) du courage. 
La pluie gonfl(e) ces torrents. 

ilz 5 la fjeivr politik. 
sla p0 Iqi 81 tr bjsn ytil. 
il moitr dy kurai3. 
la plqi gofl se tord. 

This pronunciation may be easy when the word is final, 
or before a pause (such as the end of a stress-group), 

and is adopted frequently in such cases, but it is rather diffi- 
cult when followed at once by a consonant, and hence 
it is generally avoided in such connexions. 

(3) Most people, therefore, at least in their ordinary 
careless speech, simplify the pronunciation im- 
mediately before a consonant by totally suppressing 
both the liquid and the e mute, as aut(re) chose 
[oit /oiz], le pauv{re) gargon [I9 poiv garso], rend(re) 
service [raid servis], un meub{le) d' occasion [ce moeb 
dokozjo], une tab{le) d' acajou [yn tab daka3u], im- 
possib{le) de le faire [eposib dal feir]. The [r] in such 
cases disappears more easily than [1]. Indeed, it 
disappears sometimes when the word is final, as ils 
sont quat{re). Even careful speakers, when talking 
rapidly, suppress it in the familiar words noire, voire, 
quaire, as noi{re) ami, not{re) iahle, quat{re) personnes ^ ; 
and it is always dropped in compound expressions like 
un maU(re) d'hoiel [met dotel]. But the liquids reappear 
before a vowel, at least in correct French, as un autre 
affaire, un meuhle uiile, impossible aujourd'hui. 

These simplifications are regarded as excessive and even 
slovenly by many excellent teachers, and certainly they 
should only be indulged in when talking with a kind of care- 
less freedom. Further examples : 

Un mait(re) d'ecole, vot(re) legon, prend(re) I'express, 
arb(re) fruitier, une lett(re) de recommandation^ il doit et(re) 
puni, apr^s m'et(re) rase, il veut et(re) compris, un triang(le) 
rectang(le), rartic(le) du Temps, un obstac(le) formidable. 

187. If the last consonant is not a liquid (e.g. resie, 
posie, force, etc.), it cannot be suppressed. Before a con- 
sonant, the group must either be pronounced entire, along 
with the e mute (see § 177 (2)), or the e mute may be eUded 

1 Exception must be made in Notre Pere, Notre-Dame, etc., where 
reverence maintains the full sound, and also in quatre-vingts. 


in those cases where it does not bring a difficult com- 
bination of consonants together. The former method is 
generally adopted in careful speech, and the latter in quick, 
familiar conversation. 

In the latter, the bringing together of two explosives would 
form a difficult combination, and in such cases the e must 
be retained, as un aYtiste-peintY{e), un porie-bonheur, un triste 
deuil, il teste dehout. Even where only the first of the two con- 
sonants is an explosive, the e is often retained, as is generally 
done in the words presque, puisque, jusque, quelque. Thus, 
we say jusque Id [3ysk9 la], quelque chose [kelka Joiz], presque 
jamais [preska 3am8], etc. 

But in all other cases the e may be elided in familiar con- 
versation, as tourn{e)-toi, divers(es) mithodes, assist(e)-le. It 
may also be elided before a pause, such as the end of a 
well-defined stress-group, as tu es tnst{e) ce soir, elle est 
mort{e) sans souffrir, cette voyelle disparait presqu{e) dans le 
parley. In rapid speech it may even be elided in the middle 
of a word, provided the combination of consonants is an easy 
one, as je rest{e)rai, j'observ{e)rai, etc. Further examples : 

Cast just(e) qu'il meure, la post(e) s'est trompee, le rest(e) 
n'importe pas, cela port(e) bonheur, il nargu(e) ses ennemis, 
une plan^te perc(e) la nue, un artist(e) lyrique, appart(e)ment, 
fourb(e)rie, etourd(e)rie, lampist(e)rie, etc. 

6. Fixed Words 

188. There are a few Words which contain two or more 
e mute syllables in succession, and of which the interior form 
is fixed. Such are ensev{e)lir [asavliir], ichev{e)U [e/9vle], 
ressem{e)ler [rasamle], redev{e)nir [radavniir]. In all four 
cases, it wiU be noticed, it is the last e that is elided, owing 
to the fact that it precedes the stressed syllable. The first 
two words never change their form, but the other two lose their 
second e when the third is replaced by an ordinary vowel, as : 

Ress(e)melle mes chaussures. 
Je n(e) ress(e)melle pas las 

II rad(e)viant malade. 
Je n(e) red(a)vians pas pauvre. 

rasmel me Josyir. 

39n rasmsl pa la Josyir. 

il radvje malad. 
39n radvje pa poivr. 


Under all other conditions they retain the form fixed in 
the infinitive, as : 

Fait(es) ressem(e)ler les bottines. 
II fait ressem(e)ler les bottines. 
Je n(e) redev(e)nais pas malade. 
Que voulez-vous r(e)dev(e)nir ? 

fet r9S9mle le botin. 
il fs r9s9mle le botin. 
39n r9d9vns pa malad. 
k9 vulevu rd9vniir ? 

Verbs in -eter (bequeter, caqueter, etc.) suppress their two 
e's in the future and conditional forms (except in ist and 
2nd plural conditional, for which see next section), as 
il bequ(e)t{e)ra, il caqu[e)t{e)rait, ils coll(e)t{e)ront, etc. 

7. E Mute pronounced 

189. There are several conditions under which e mute 
is never elided, even in the most familiar speech : 

1. Before ri- or li- in those cases where the i is always 
pronounced as [j] and regarded as a consonant. This is the 
case in rien, and in the first and second plural of the condi- 
tional of verbs, as en moins de rien [d mwe d9 rje], il ne vous 
demande rien [D. n9 vu dma!d9 rjg], nous serions heureux [nu 
S9rj5z oer0], vous marcheriez a voire ruine [vu marj9rje a votrg 
rqin], nous causerions ici [nu koz9rj3 isi]. Similarly we have 
appelions [ap9lj5], appeliez [ap9lje], Richelieu [rij9lj0], and 
even ce roi [s9 rwa], ce ruisseau [s9 rqisb]. The reason is 
that a liquid (r or /) cannot maintain itself in a group of three 
real consonants unless it is first or last, not second. 

2. Before the terminations -nier, -Her in nouns. 
Thus, centenier [sat9nje], batelier [bat9lje], chandelier [Jad9lje], 
bachelier [baj9lje], un denier [de d9nje]. 

3. Before h 'aspirate.' As explained (§166), the h 'aspirate* 
is no longer pronounced in French, but it prevents liaison 
or elision before it, exactly as if it were a consonant, as une 
halle [yn9 al], dames de halles [dam d9 al], une hausse [yng 
01s], le hamac [I9 amak], un triste here [de trist9 sir], c'est 
une honte d'agir ainsi [set yn9 oit da3iir £si], quels trisies heros 
que ces hussar ds ! [kel trist9 ero k9 se ysair !]. Similarly, 
before un (noun of number) huit, onze, as le un, il ignore que 
onze et deux font treize (see § 170). 

4. In the pronoun le after an imperative, even though 
followed by a word beginning with a vowel, as dis-le [diloe], 


faisons-le maintenant [fazoloe metna], rendez-le aimable [mdeloe 
smabl]. In all such cases the e mute is stressed, being the 
final syllable, and consequently it is not only retained 
but really becomes [ce] (§ 70) . In conditions where it is 
unstressed, it follows the general rule, as preiez-l{e)-moi 
[pretelmwa], mets-l[e)-moi sur la table [mslmwa syr la tabl], 
in which cases the stress falls on moi and not on le. 

190. Before concluding this chapter, the fact needs em- 
phasizing that the more elevated or more sustained the 
tone of the speech is, the more is the e mute pronounced. 
For instance, clearness may necessitate its pronunciation, 
as tu devrais te teindre les cheveux ; or contrast, as ce n'est 
pas apres d(e)main, c'est domain. In slow and emphatic 
speech, almost every e mute is sounded. One might say in 
rapid, familiar conversation, allez, j(e) vous r{e)fuse, but the 
refusal is more emphatic or tragic if one says [ale, 39 vu rafyiz]. 
A careless priest will speak of les commayidements d{e) Dieu, 
but another with more reverence will say les commandements 
de Dieu. 

191. In verse, all e mute vowels in the interior of the 
lines are pronounced, and in music there are separate notes 
provided for them. This is due to the fact that in French 
verse, unlike English, the rhythm does not depend solely upon 
the regular distribution of accented {i.e. stressed) syllables, 
but also upon the number of sounded syllables being equal in 
each corresponding line, and for this purpose the e mute is 
always reckoned as one, except before a vowel or h ' mute ' or 
at the end of a line. Some people, yielding to the analogy 
of prose, suppress some of the e mute vowels, thus curtailing 
the proper number of syllables in each line. This may suit 
the less elevated styles of poetry, and indeed many popular 
ditties are intended to be recited or sung without a strict 
adherence to the e mute, but in elevated verse at least every 
syllable should be sounded wherever possible, so long as the 
form of the language is not abused. In classic and romantic 
verse particularly, it is a mistake to omit any e mute syllable. 
It should be remembered that the basis of such verse is 
artificial and archaic, and that to suppress any of the syllables 
is really to falsify the measure. 

192. It remains to be said that in popular speech e mute 
is often inserted where it does not occur in the ordinary 


spelling. It appears at the end of consonantal groups, or 
in their interior. Thus, we hear un ours blanc [oen urs9 bla], 
fare de triomphe [larka d trio if], c'est Max [s8 maks9], Felix 
Faure [feliksafoir], I'est de la France [lesta d la frdis], Ernest 
Blanc [srnesta bla], lorsque [brsaka], expres [eksaprs]. Culti- 
vated French speakers avoid such insertions of e, regarding 
them as due to slovenliness or lack of education. 


I. The following sentences should be studied and carefully 
practised : 

I. Je n(e) peux m(e) souv(e)nir de c(e) nom. 2. Je n(e) te 
1(e) demand(e) pas. 3. Crois-tu que j(e) me r(e)pens ? 

4. Comment puis-j(e) me rappeler 1(e) visag(e) de c(e) gargon ? 

5. Qu'est-c(e) que j(e) te disais ? 6. N(e) te fach(e) pas d(e) 
c(e) que je n(e) te 1(e) dis pas. 7. Je s(e)rai Rustan, et je 
n(e) le s(e)rai pas. 8. Qu'est-c(e) que tout c(e) que j(e) vois ? 
9. II s(e)ra bien force d(e) s(e) taire. 10. C(e) n'est rien d(e) 
c(e) que vous pensez. 11. De c(e) que je n(e) le d(e)mand(e) 
pas, n(e) concluez pas que je n(e) le veux pas. 12. Tu t(e) 
lament(es) de c(e) que je n(e) te le r(e)mets pas. 

II. Read the following aloud, with special attention to the 
elision of e mute : 

Je suis perdu, on m'a derobe mon argent. Qui peut-ce 
etre ? Qu'est-il devenu ? Ou se cache-t-il ? Que ferai-je 
pour le trouver ? Ou ne pas courir ? Qui est-ce ? J'ignore 
ce que je fais. Helas ! mon pauvre argent, on m'a prive 
de toi ! Et puisque tu m'es enleve, je n'ai plus que faire au 
monde. C'en est fait, je me meurs. II faut, qui que ce soit 
qui ait fait le coup, qu'avec beaucoup de soin on ait epie 
I'heure, et on a choisi justement le temps que je parlais a mon 
traitre de fils. Je veux aller faire donner la question a toute 
ma maison. Que de gens assembles ! Je ne jette mes regards 
sur personne qui ne me donne des soupgons, et tout me semble 
mon voleur. Eh ? De quoi est-ce qu'on parle la ? De celui 
qui m'a derobe ? lis me regardent tous et se mettent a rire. 
Je veux faire pendre tout le monde ; et si je ne retrouve mon 
argent, je me pendrai moi-meme apres. 

MoLiERE, UAvarej condensed 



(accent d'intensite) 

193. By * accent ' we here mean the special stress that is 
given to a particular syllable when it is uttered with more 
energy or force than the others and sounds somewhat louder. 
For example, in the English word tendency, the stress is on 
the first syllable, in ability on the second, and in comprehend 
on the third. There is a large amount of such stress in English 
and other European languages, but in French there is a 
remarkable absence of it. There are of course changes in 
pitch, and almost infinite shades of voice due to syllables 
being strong or weak, clear- vowelled or dull, but these changes 
are not necessarily connected with stress. The fact is that 
all syllables in French are almost equally stressed, so 
that there is a kind of monotonous uniformity in their utter- 
ance. In listening to a French speaker one cannot help 
noticing this even rhythm, caused by every syllable being 
uttered with almost equal force and distinctness. As long 
ago as 1567, Plantin, in his Dialogues frangoys, stated that 
the French language did not recognize any accent, and three 
hundred years later, Nisard declared that " each syllable 
has the same accent in French." 

194. At the same time there is a slight stress, generally 
tetmed the Tonic or Rhythmic Accent, which occurs as de- 
scribed in this chapter. Students must beware of exaggerating 
it : it is by no means so strong as it is in English. Frequently, 
indeed, it is so slight that it is almost imperceptible. 

(i) As a general rule, every word when isolated has 
the accent on the last sounded syllable (unless this is an 
e mute), as bonte, frangaiis, colossal, bourgeoisie, epee, article ; 
and this is the case even with words which have been borrowed 
from other languages where the stress has been generally 
on a previous syllable, as revolver, jockey, gratis, cortes, 



Luther, Eldorado, If a previous syllable contains a long vowel 
(e.g. baron, beaucoup, fdche, heros), this lessens the stress 
on the final syllable, making it almost imperceptible. Many 
French words are thus in a state of almost perfect equilibrium. 
This accent on the last syllable of isolated words is in 
most cases a survival of the Latin forms. In Latin, words 
generally had the stress (' ictus ') on the second last syllable, 
but as their last syllable has now disappeared in French, the 
words end on the stressed one. Thus the Latin accentum, 
with the stress on the second last syllable, has become accent 
in French, mercsUum has become marche, s-nd fenestra fenetre. 
Similarly in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and the other 
Romance languages (which are derived from Latin), the 
accent still f^dls on the same syllable as in Latin, but in 
these languages the strong syllable is often followed by 
other syllables, as Italian amore (Fr. amour), Spanish co^o 
(Fr. coude), Portuguese hera (Fr. lierre). In this respect 
the Romance languages differ from the English and others in 
the Teutonic group, which usually have the accent on the first 
or root syllable. The difference so far as French and English 
are concerned, will be evident from the following comparison : 

























}5. Where simi 

lar words are comi 

non to English and 

French, care should therefore be taken that the stress is not 
placed where it is in English. Beginners are apt to do this. 
Such cases, e.g., as the following should be noticed, as they 
are very numerous : 






























196. (2) Words, however, do not always occur isolated, 
except in dictionaries and under special conditions. We 
have rather to deal with words grouped together into spoken 
language. Here the tonic accent does not fall on the last 
syllable of every word. This would altogether spoil the 
proper flow. It falls upon the last sounded syllable of a 
word or group of words expressing within itself a single idea 
or concept or picture. This group may contain several 
words, but if it expresses only one idea, the whole group is 
treated as one long word, and all the sjdlables in it are uttered 
with exactly the same force except the last, which has a 
very slight stress. It is the recurrence at intervals more or 
less regular of these stressed syllables that constitutes the 
rhythm of the language. 

197. How is such a group known ? It may generally be 
known by the fact that it can be replaced by a single 
word (a single thought- element), if not in French, at least 
in some other language. Thus in the sentence 

// y avail une fois une jeune fille qui refusait d' alter d Vkole, 

there are five such groups, and consequently five slight 
stresses, as follows : 

(i) II y avail, which simply indicates exislence in Ihe past 
and can be expressed in Latin by the one word eral. 

(2) une fois, which localizes the existence in time, and 
might be otherwise written in French by aulrefois. If instead 
of this we were to say en mil neuf cenl dix-neuf, there would 
be six words in place of one, but these six would still constitute 
a single group, and only the last syllable neuf would be 

{3) une jeune fille, which also contains a single thought- 
element, for it designates a particular category of human 
beings, like enfanl, homme, pelil gargon, vieille femme, and 
might be translated by the Latin word puella. The ex- 
pression un fille jeune, on the other hand, would constitute 
two groups, for it refers to an individual of the class fille, 
who possesses a particular quality (jeune), 

(4) qui refusail, which might easily be replaced in French 
by refusant. 

(5) d'aller a I'ecole, which is practically equivalent to 


d'etudier, the word alley being here a mere grammatical 
complement. If, however, we were to say d'aller a I'ecole, 
a rSglise, ou au museum, the. expression d'aller would form 
a group by itself, because the idea of going becomes a 
separate one, connecting itself with other objects than the 

The whole sentence has thus five easily defined groups, the 
various syllables of which receive equal force and distinctness, 
except the last of each which is slightly stressed, as : 

II y avait | une fois | une jeune fille | qui refusait | d'aller k I'ecole. 

198. It will thus be seen that though a word when isolated 
has an accent on the last syllable, it may lose that accent in 
a group, unless it is the last word in it ; for the accent belongs 
not to the word but to the group. Hence we have : 

Avant, but avant-coureur 

Lieutenant, ,, lieutenant-colonel 

Nous avons, 
II laissa, 
Les champs, 
Le jardin, 
II aime. 


nous avons eu 

il laissa tomber 

les Champs-Elysees 

le Jardin des Plantes 


comment allez-vous 

pendant leur entretien 

199. These groups, known as stress-groups, to which we 
refer in this chapter, must not be confused with breath- 
groups, or clauses, which depend on the exigencies of breath, 
or on the requirements of expression. Sometimes, no doubt, 
the one may coincide with the other, but as a rule, breath- 
groups are generally long enough to contain several stress- 
groups. Thus, the phrase, honjour, mon cher ami, forms a 
single breath-group, but it contains two stress-groups. 

200. The following cases of non-accentuation should be 
noted : 

(i) There are of course a large number of little words, 
such as pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, etc., which 
grammarians call proclitics or enclitics, and which by their 
very nature are alv/ays unstressed. They may, either alone 


or in combination, express an idea, but they cannot constitute 
a stress-group. Thus, in the sentence 

Dites-moi | ce que vous ne voulez pas 

there are only two accented or stressed syllables, moi and pas. 
Theoretically, there should be an accent on ce que, which 
contains a well-defined thought (equivalent to la chose que), 
but under ordinary circumstances the weak e mute vowel 
cannot take an accent, and indeed is not pronounced at all 
except where necessary. All such words fall into the 
adjoining group. If they are. not final, or if there is no 
pause after them, they fall into the group which follows, 
never that which precedes ; if final, they fall of course into 
the preceding group. Thus : 

Qu'est I -ce que le maitre | a demande | a ses ecoliers ? 

Ce n'est rien | de ce que vous pensez. 

L'homme, | qui est egoiste, | abuse | du plus faible. 

II y en avait | qui, au lieu de pain, | mangeaient | des pommes. 

Un peintre | qui, des le matin, | travaille | a ses tableaux. 

Qu'est-c(e) ? | Que sais-j(e) ? 

In some of these examples it will be noticed that even the 
comma does not always divide one group from another. 
Provided there be no pause after the relative, it becomes a 
proclitic word, which cannot take the stress, and hence the 
division takes place before and not after it. 

201. (2) Many adjectives, adverbs, and similar words, 
which are inserted within a stress-group to express shades 
of meaning", do not usually receive the accent, although 
theoretically they should have it. Thus, il a Men iravailley 
il a beaucoup travaille, il a parfaitement chante, les plus 
profonds mysteres, un grand tableau , de beaux infants, un 
excellent ami, les moindres offlcievs, etc. 

Such words, however, frequently receive the emphatic 
accent or stress, especially in elevated or sustained speech, 
but this is a different matter, referred to in Chapter XXXIV. 

202. (3) When a stress-group, complete in itself (e.g. il 
parlait), is followed by a final monosyllabic word (as in il 
parlait bien), the group usually loses the accent (Disaccentua- 
tion), while the monosyllable retains it. In other words, 


the group extends itself to include the monosyllable, as il 
parlait bien. Hence we have un garc^on diligent, un gargon 
/labile, but un gargon bon. Similarly, we have : 

Vous le voyez ? and Vous le voyez done ? 

Un grand bruit, „ Un grand bruit d'hommes. 

D'une voix, 

C'est moi, 

L'ami d 'Alfred, 

Le roi Guillaume, 

Une femme charmante. 

La misere terrible, 

D'une voix claire. 
C'est moi-meme. 
L'ami d(e) Pierre. 
Le roi George. 
Une femme bonne. 
La misere noire. 

If, however, the idea contained in the monosyllable be a 
distinct one, requiring to be put as it were in relief, the 
group retains its accent, and the monosyllable also. In this 
case there are two groups, generally with a slight pause 
between. Thus, elle chantait bien (only one group) refers 
solely to the action of good singing, and thus contains a 
single idea, whereas elle chantaii bien {two groups) refers 
to the action of singing, and in addition indicates that it 
was well done, and it thus contains two distinct ideas. 

203. While the above rules on the rhythmic or tonic accent 
may be regarded as almost universally observed, there are 
variations from them among different speakers. Indeed, 
probably no two Frenchmen would speak with the stresses at 
exactly the same places in a sentence. It may be said that in 
elevated and sustained speech, and above all in verse, 
stress-groups are generally shorter than in familiar or rapid 
conversation, in the sense that adverbs, adjectives, etc., 
which take an accent in the former, may not receive it in the 
latter. Such expressions as de terribles combats, la patrie 
sacree, etc., might take two accents in elevated speech, but 
only one in ordinary conversation. The rhythmic accent 
may thus be suppressed or added according to the nature 
of the speech. But there is a limit to these variations, and 
the student who wishes a correct accent should practise the 
division of sentences into * idea-groups,' and aim at monoton- 
ous uniformity of aU the syllables, with a very slight stress 
on the last one in each group. In other words, he should 
give exactly the same force to each syUable in a group, except 
the last, which should be very slightly stronger. Those who 


are completely under the influence of English accentuation' 
may find this difficult at first. Some have found it helpful 
to accompany each syllable with a tap on the table, taking 
care that the taps are quite regular in time, and all of them 
equal in force except the last of each group. Whether this 
hint is adopted or not, it is advisable that the speaking or 
reading should be done slowly at first, so that each sounded 
syllable may receive its full value. It is a mistake to aim 
at speed before correctness has been acquired. 

We repeat that the accent should only be a slight one. 
Some learners have a tendency to make it far too energetic, 
which makes the speech jerky and disagreeable, and puts 
the accented syllables in exaggerated relief. 

The following extract will furnish abundant examples of 
the rhythmic accent. A vertical line has been put after 
each stress-group. The syllable which precedes a line is 
always accented : 

La Mer 

J'etais arrive | le soir, | avec mes parents^ | dans un village | 
de la cote saintongeaise/ | dans une maison | de pecheurs, j 
louee I pour la saison des bains. ^ | Je savais | que nous 
etions venus ^ la | pour une chose | qui s'appelait la mer,* | 
mais je ne I'avais pas encore vue | (une ligne de dunes ^ ] me 
la cachait | a cause de ma tres ^ petite taille)^ | et j'etais dans 
une extreme ^ impatience | de la connaitre. | Apr^s le diner ^ | 
done, I alatombee | delanuit, [ jem'echappai^seul | dehors. | 
L'air ^^ | vif, | apre, | sentait je ne sais quoi | d'inconnu, | et 

^ La c6te saintongeaise, single idea or concept, 

2 Pour la saison des bains, single idea, practically equivalent to pour 

3 Disaccentuation of venus before lb,. 

* Qui s'appelait la mer is here a single idea, qui s'appelait being a 
mere rhetorical addition. If s'appelait be accented, there would be two 
groups, implying unnecessarily tliat the thing had a name as well as 
that this name was the sea. 

^ Une ligne de dunes, single idea, equivalent to des dunes. 
^ Tres may take the emphatic accent (see chapter xxxiv.). 
' ExtrSme may take the emphatic accent. 

^ There is no disaccentuation here of diner before done, as the latter 
is meant to form a separate idea with a slight pause before it. 

* Disaccentuation of nt'dchappai before seul. 

^" No disaccentuation of Pair, as the adjectives following are intended 
to be set in relief as distinct ideas. 


un bruit | singulier, | a la fois faible | et immense, | se faisait 
entendre | derriere ^ les petites montagnes ^ | de sable, | 
auxquelles un sentier | conduisait. | Tout m'effrayait, ^ | ce 
bout I de sentier | inconnu, | ce crepuscule | tombant * d'un 
ciel ouvert, | et aussi | la solitude | de ce coin | de village. | 
. . . Cependant, | arme | d'une de ces grandes ^ resolutions | 
subites, I comme les bebes | les plus timides | en prennent 
quelquefois, | je partis | d'un pas ferme. | . . . 

Puis, I tout a coup | je m'arretai | glace, | frissonnant ^ | 
de peur. | Devant moi | quelque chose | apparaissait, | 
quelque chose | de sombre | et de bruissant | avait surgi | de 
tons les cotes | en meme temps, | et qui semblait ne pas 
finir, '^ I une etendue en^ mouvement | qui me donnait le 
vertige ^ | mortel. | . . . Evidemment | c'etait 9a ; | pas ^ 
une minute | d 'hesitation, | ni meme | d'etonnement | que ce 
futainsi, | non, | rien | que de I'epouvante ; | je reconnaissais | 
et je tremblais. | C'etait d'un vert | obscur, | presque noir ; | 
5a semblait instable,^^ | perfide, | engloutissant ; | 9a remuait | 
et ga se demenait | partout | a la fois, | avec un air | de 
mechancete | sinistre. | Au-dessus | s'etendait un ciel ^^ | 
tout d'une pi^ce, | d'un gris | fonce, | comme un manteau ^^ 
lourd. I Tris ^^ loin, | tr^s ^^ loin | seulement, | a d'inap- 

^ Derridre is an unaccented proclitic. 

2 Les petites montagnes, single idea, equivalent to les collines. 

3 Tout m'effrayait, single idea, almost equivalent to fetais efjvayL 
Tout may take an emphatic accent, however. 

^ Tombant is here a mere rhetorical expression, forming part of the 
main idea, and is better left unaccented. 

^ Grandes may take the emphatic accent. 

^ Frissonant may take the emphatic accent (on first syllable), as 
well as the rhythmic one (on last syllable), thus becoming frissonant. 
If a word of more than one syllable requires an emphatic accent, this 
is generally placed as here on the first syllable beginning with a 
consonant (chapter xxxiv.) . 

^ Qui semblait ne pas finir, single idea, almost equivalent to qui ne 
finissait pas. 

* Qui me donnait le vertige, single idea, equivalent to qui m'dtour- 

^ Pas may take the emphatic accent. 

^^ Qa semblait instable, single idea, semblait being here a mere 
copulative verb, unaccented. 

^^ S'etendait is here a mere rhetorical expression, forming part of the 
idea contained in ciel. 

12 Disaccentuation of manteau before lourd. 

^^ Trds may take the emphatic accent. 


preciables | profondeurs | d'horizon, | on apercevait | une 
dechirure, | un jour | entre le ciel | et les eaux, | une longue 
fente ^ | vide, | d'une claire | paleur jaune. ^ | . . . 

Pour la reconnaitre | ainsi, | la mer, | I'avais-je | deja vue ? | 
Peut-etre, | inconsciemment, | lorsque vers I'age | de cinq | ou 
six I mois, | on m'avait emmene | dans I'ile, | chez une 
grand'tante, | soeur | de ma grand'm^re. | Ou bien | avait- 
elle ete | si souvent regard ee | par mes ancetres | marins | 
que j'etais ne ay ant deja^ | dans la tete | un reflet | confus 
I de son immensite ? | 

Nous restames | un moment | Tun devant I'autre, | moi | 
fascine par elle. | Des* cette premiere entrevue, | sans 
doute, I j'avais I'insaisissable | pressentiment | qu'elle finirait 
un jour I par me prendre, | malgre toutes ^ mes hesitations, | 
malgre toutes ^ les volontes | qui essayeraient | de me 
retenir. | . . . Ce que j'eprouvais | en sa presence | etait non 
seulement | de la frayeur, | mais surtout | une tristesse | sans 
nom, I une impression | de solitude | desolee, | d 'abandon, | 
d'exil. I . . . Et je repartis | en courant, | la figure | tr^s ^ 
bouleversee, | je pense, | et les cheveux | tourmentes | par 
le vent, | avec une hate | extreme | d'arriver | aupr^s de ma 
mere, | de me serrer ^ | contre elle, | de me faire consoler | 
de mille angoisses | anticipees, | inexpressibles, | qui m'avaient 
etreint la cceur ^ | a la vue | de ces grandes ^ etendues | 
vertes | et profondes. | Pierre Loti 

^ There is no disaccentuation of fente before vide, as the latter is 
intended to express a distinct idea. The word longue may receive the 
emphatic accent, in which case the three words longue fente, vide all 
become accented. 

2 Disaccentuation of paleur before jaune. 

^ This may be regarded as one group, containing only one concept 
or picture, with no pause between nd and ayant, and it is better to give 
it only one accent. 

* D^s may receive the emphatic accent. 

5 Toutes may receive the emphatic accent. 
® Tris may receive the emphatic accent. 

' Serrer may take the emphatic accent (on first syllable), as well as 
the rhythmic one (on last syllable) . 

^ Qui m'avaient itreint le cceur, single idea. 

• Grandes may take the emphatic accent. 



204. As already stated, the final consonant in the majority 
of French words is not pronounced, so that the words as 
uttered end with a vowel. When, however, the next word 
begins also with a vowel or h ' mute,' or with one of the three 
semi-consonants [w, j, q], the final letter of the first word 
is often sounded for the sake of euphony, and becomes the 
initial of the next word. This is called liaison or linking. 
Thus, the final consonant of the verbal form etait is mute 
in il etait grand [il ete gra], but it is sounded in il etaitjimmcnse 
[il etet imais], where it becomes the initial of the syllable im-. 
Similarly, we say trop^aimahle [trop emabl], prenez^-en 
[pranezd], disait^-on [dizeto], il faut^ecrire [il fot ekriir], etc. 
This linking prevents hiatus, which generally makes the 
utterance difficult and disagreeable. For the same reason, 
when the third person singular of the interrogative of a 
verb ends with a vowel, the letter t is introduced between 
the verb and the pronouns il, elle, on (as a-t-il, parle-t-elle, 
dira-t-on), the t being really the survival of the Latin termina- 
tion of the verb. On the same principle, we have ne voild- 
t-il pas, and the technical term va-et-vient, frequently pro- 
nounced va-t-et-vient by sailors. 

^ 205. When thus linked to the following word, s and x 
become [z],/ becomes [v], d becomes [t], and g becomes [k]. 
That is to say, the voiceless fricatives (s and /) become voiced, 
while the voiced plosives {d and g) become unvoiced. For 
example : 

s ; Les^aunes [lez oin] (same as les zones), vous^avez [vuz ave], 
nos^enjants [noz dfa], un grosjiomme [de groz om], le 
tiersu^tat [b tjsrz eta], leurs^amis [loerz ami], lesjyeux 
[lez 30]; desjiuttres [dez qitr]. 



X : Deuxjiommes [d0z om], chevaux^arahes [Javoz arab], 
choux^aigres [Juz sigr]^ iu peux^attendre [ty p0z ataidr]. 
Similarly, deuxieme, sixieme, dixieme, etc. 

/ ; Neuf is the only word in / that takes liaison, as neuf^ans 
[noev a], neujjteures [noev oeir], neufjiommes [noev om]. 
See chapter xxix. 

d : Grandjiomme [grat om], pied^d-terre [pjetatsir], quand^on 
viendra [kat 5 vjsdra], il n'a pas froid^aux yeux [il na pa 
frwat oz j0]. 

g ; The g becomes [k] in the adjective long, as in un longjiiver 
[de 15k ivEir], un long^espoir [de 15k espwair]. The same is 
the case sometimes with the substantives sang and rang, 
as sangj,llustre [sdk ilystr], rangjiumain [rak yms] ; but 
liaison in the case of these two words is now rare and 
regarded as affected. One still sings, however, in the 
Marseillaise, '^ Qu'un sang^impur [sdk spyir] abreuve nos 
sillons,^' and liaison always takes place in the expression 
suer sang^et eau [sqe sdk e 0]. 

p : The consonant p only takes liaison in trop and beaucoup, as 
tropJ,diot [trop idjo], beaucoup^appris [bokup apri]. In 
familiar talk there is a tendency to avoid liaison with trop, 
but a speaker can nevertheless make it without appearing 

Other consonants : devant^elle [dovdt el], un peiit^oiseau [ce 
potit wazo], chez^eux [Jez 0], franc^alleu [frdkal0], franc^ 
archer [frdkarje], franc^itrier [frdk etrie], etc. For n, 
indicating nasality, see §101. 

206. It should be noted, however, that when a final 
consonant is pronounced under all conditions, there 
is no liaison properly speaking. The consonant is joined to 
the vowel that follows, but it undergoes no change. Thus 
we have un os a moelle [den os a mwal], un lis asphodele [de 
liis asfodel], des fils obeissants [de fis obeisd], des ours affames 
[dez urs afame], ious ont parle [tuis 5 parle], index alphahetique 
[edsks alfabetik], codex officiel [kodeks ofisjsl], un chef anglais 
[de Jsf dgle], sauf erreur [sof eroeir], sud-est [sydest], sud-ouest 
[sydwest], un gong enorme [de goig enorm]. The monosyllable 
us [ys], however, generally takes liaison with [z] in the 
expression us^et coutumes. 

2Sfl, There are limits to liaison : it does not take place in all 
cases. As its purpose is that of harmony and the avoidance 


of hiatus, it is clear that it should not take place in cases 
where it would produce a more disagreeable sound than 
its absence would do.^ But apart from this underlying 
principle, the main difficulty with learners is to know when 
to use it, and when to avoid it. One common rule is that 
it should only take place between words that are closely 
connected in position.and meaning. Another, which amounts 
to the same thing, is that it should only take place when no 
pause can be made between the words. Either of these 
rules is a good guiding principle, but the matter may be put 
better and more scientifically as follows : Liaison as a rule 
takes place within the interior of a stress-group, and 
not between one stress-group and another. Thus : 

Nous avons^ecrit | a trois^amis | aujourd'hui [nuz avoz 
ekri a trwoz ami ojurdqi]. 

Other examples are as follows : 

II a couru k franc^etrier [il a kury a frak etrie], but il etait 
franc | autrefois. 

Un prof ond^esprit [de profot Espri], but son esprit est profond | 
et lucide. 

Un long^ete [de 15k etc], but le temps est long | a qui attend. 

C'est un second^Alexandre [set ce s9got Alsksaidr], but il 
est capitaine en second | aujourd'hui. 

C'est un heureuxjiomme [set den oer0z om]^ but il est 
heureux | et insouciant. 

208. This rule, as here stated, is almost absolute in reading, 
in declamation, and indeed in all elevated and sustained 
speech ; but in familiar and current conversation, the 
tendency is to avoid liaison as much as possible, confining it 
to grammatical cases, especially those which serve to dis- 
tinguish the plural from the singular. The whole matter 
indeed is largely one of taste, and speakers vary greatly 
according to whether their conversation is elevated or familiar, 
slow or rapid, educated or illiterate. It can be said with 
assurance, however, that in current conversation the linking 
of words in the interior of a stress-group, even when it is 

1 For instance, tu as^Ste [ty az ote] , and tu les^as [ty lez a] are both 
correct and agreeable to the ear, but tu les^as^ote [ty lez az ote] , with 
the close repetition of [z], sounds more disagreeable than the absence 
of liaison [ty le a ote], and would be better avoided. 


unnecessary, does not strike the French ear as unnatural or 
unpleasant (unless it be a pataques ^), whereas the linking 
of one stress group to another is generally bad taste, 

and denotes a pretentious, affected, or artificial mode of 
speech. For this reason, the Swiss pronunciation, which 
frequently links the stress-groups, is not regarded as attrac- 
tive by Parisians. 

209. From what we have just said, it will be understood 
that it is impossible to give rigid rules in regard to liaison. 
But on the main principle that it should take place principally 
within stress-groups and not between them, the following 
may be regarded as the chief cases where it should be em- 
ployed, even in current conversation : 

I. Articles, pronouns, possessive and demonstrative 
adjectives, prepositions (except selon ^), conjunctions, 
as well as adverbs (when fairly short), and similar accessory 
words are always linked to the following word when they 
govern or qualify it. Thus : 

Les_oiseaux^ vous^ecrivez, nous^aimons, ils^offrent, elles^ 
envoient, on^entre, mon^argent, ces^edifices, leurs^enfants, 
quels_idiots, toutjiomme, tout^est fini,^ d'autres^enfants, 
pendant^un jour, sans_amis, dans^une heure, chez^eux, 
sous^une lampe, en_abondance, en^ecoutant, en_y allant, 
bien^aimable, moins_agr cable, plusjionnete, dont^il est, 

^ A pataques is a wrong linking, as ce fi'est point-z-a moi ; ce n'est 
pas-t-a lui. Uneducated people, who are familiar with only the sound 
of a word, do not always know what consonant, if any, should be 
carried forward, and hence they frequently substitute [z] for [t], or vice 
versa, or even insert [z] or [t] where no consonant occurs. This is a 
pataques, originating in the expression ^e ne sais pas-t-a qu'est-ce. Some- 
times the term cuir or velours is used instead, although cuir is confined 
rather to the addition of [t] (as in va-t-en ville), and velours is applied 
more particularly to the insertion of [z] (as fai eu, pronounced like 
Jesus). Examples of such wrong liaisons are very common, as fetais- 
t-a la maison, tu es-t-une bete, il etait-z-a Rome, avant-z-hier, fai-z-it6, 
moi-z-aussi, il s'en va-t-en guerre, il viendra-z-a Pdques, etc. In the 
case of entre quatre yeux, the French Academy has authorized the 
pronunciation [atr9katrazj0], more popularly [-katzjo]. 

^ And occasionally also apres and depuis. 

^ Tout is here an indefinite pronoun, but there is no liaison in such 
expressions as le tout et la partie, le tout est de savoir, etc., where tout is a 


je m'en^allais, j'en_ai, on_en_a tant, mais^en disant/ 
quand^elle chante,^ vraiment^aimable^ tendrement^aime, 
tout_-a-fait_extraordinaire, comment_allez-vous ? bientoC 
apres^ je ne t'ai point^aime. 

But if they do not govern or qualify the following word, 
they are not linked to it. Thus, we say Allez-vous^-en, but 
Allez-vous I en voiture ? Similarly, there is no linking in such 
phrases as the following : 

Avez-vous I averti ses amis | ? donnez m'en | un ; va-t-en | 
a cheval ; est-on | alle a Rome ; a-t-on | entendu ; eux | ont 
ete a Paris. 

2. The auxiliary verbs (such as Hre, avoir, devoir, vonloir, 
falloir, etc.) are linked to the past participle or infinitive 
which immediately follows, as : 

II est^arrive, ils_etaient_entres^ il ravait^occupe, d^s qu'il 
eut_appris, je devais^aller, il faut_y aller, il fallait^ecrire, 
il s'est fait^aimer, 9a peut^etre juste, il veut_y aller. 

At the same time, liaisons of this kind do not occur in very 
familiar talk, in which it is quite common to hear il est \ arrive, 
tu as I eu, nous avons \ eu, tu dois \ ecrire, etc. The use of 
the second person singular especially [tutoiement), which in 
conversation almost always denotes familiarity or contempt, 
does not suit an elevated tone, and consequently does not 
accord with frequent liaison. An exception must be made, 
however, in the case of tu es, after which liaison is quite 

3. The verb is always linked to the pronouns {il, ils, 
en, y, etc.), which follow it, as prend^-il, prennent^-ils, ont^-ils 
vu, prends^-en, donnes^-en, menes^-y-moi, allez^-y, vas^-y. It is 
for this purpose that the imperative singular takes s after e, 
when the pronoun en or y is to follow. 

4. An adjective, even though polysyllabic, takes liaison 
when it precedes the substantive which it qualifies, for in 
this case the two words are closely united, making a kind 
of compound phrase or indissoluble group ; even two or 

1 Liaison is not indispensable in the case of mais, and in mats oui it 
never occurs (§ 211 (5)). 

2 But when quand is used interrogatively, liaison is not usual, although 
permissible, as : Quand etes-vous venu ? [ka st vu vny ?]. 


three adjectives may be linked provided they are fairly short. 
This kind of liaison is particularly useful for marking the 
plural. Thus : 

Singular : Un grandjiomme, un petit_animal^ un brillant^ 
orateur, un faux^air, un faux^ebenier, un mauvais^etat, 
un pis^aller, un excellent^ecrivain^ un heureux^enfant, le 
second^acte, commun^accord, un parfait^honnete homme. 

Adjectives in -er also, which have the r mute (especially 
premier, dernier), sound it in liaison, the vowel being opened 
to [e], as le premier ^aout [I9 pramjer u], le dernier^eleve [I9 
dernjsr elsiv], un singulier^effort [de ssgyljsr efoir].^ 

Plural : De petits_oiseaux^ de beaux^arbres, ses bons^amis, 
les jeunes^epoux, certains^auteurs, excellents^amiS; divers^ 
aspects, plusieursjiommes. 

When an adjective follows its substantive, liaison generally 
takes place between the two, if the substantive is plural, 
Jbut not if it is singular. This method, too, aids in distinguish- 
mg the plural. Thus : 

Singular : Un avis | important, un portrait | excellent, un vin | 
abominable, un nom | ancien, un parfum | agreable, un 
officier | estimable, un chaos | affreux.^ 

Plural : Les langues_etrang^res, contes^espagnols, des jours^ 
heureux, des rangs^impairs, les gens^ages, Les Etats^Unis, 
les aspects^agr cables.^ 

Note that by such rules an adjective ma}^ frequently be 
distinguished from a substantive, as un savant^etranger (a 

^ In public speaking and careful speech, the r of verbs in -er is also 
sounded as a rule, and the e opened to some extent, as parler^en mon 
absence, aimer^oL rive. But this liaison is tending to disappear, and will 
soon be confined exclusively to poetry. Even laisser-aller has no liaison. 

* Liaison, however, is sometimes made between the singular sub- 
stantives sang, rang, aspect, respect, and adjectives which follow, as un 
sangjUlustre, un sang^arteriel, un rang^eleve, un aspec{t)_agriable, le 
respec{t) Jiumain, but these liaisons are now regarded as pedantic (§ 205). 
In aspect and respect, the c is carried forward in the singular only. 

' Words ending in mute 5 [cas, repas, etc.), take liaison with z in the 
plural, as un cas interessant [ka eteresa], but des cas intdressants 
[kaz Eteresa]. Similarly we have un chauffe-pieds excellent [pje sksEla], 
but des chauffe-pieds excellents [pjez eksela]. 


learned foreigner), hut un savant \ etr anger (a foreign scholar). 
In the first case savant is the adjective, and etr anger the 
substantive ; in the second case it is the opposite. We have 
also un sotuaveugle (a foolish blind-man), and un sot \ aveugle 
(a blind fool). Similarly, in the plural, we may say un 
marchand de draps^nglais, where anglais is an adjective 
qualifying draps, but un marchand de draps \ anglais, where 
anglais qualifies marchand. 

5. Numerals are linked to the words which they 
multiply. In this connexion, they are adjectives, and come 
under the preceding category. Thus, un^animal, deux^dnes, 
trois^enfanis, cinq^amis, sixjieures, sept^oiseaux, huitjiistoires, 
neuf^ans, dix^edifices, vingt^etoiles, quatre-vingts^eleves, cent^ 
ecus, trois cents Jiommes, deux^affreuxjohjets, deux^ et troisjm 
[d0ziks e trwazem].^ 

6. Liaison takes place in certain phrases in fre- 
quent use which have practically become compound 
expressions, as : 

Bout_a bout, chat^echaude, chacun^a chacun, chat^en 
poche, croc_-en-jambe, de temps^en temps, de plus_en plus, 
de moins^en moins, de mieux_en mieux, de but_en blanc, 
de fond^en comble, du haut^en bas, d'un bout^a I'autre, 
dos_a dos, deux_^ deux, froid_ai5x pieds, guet_-apens, mot_a 
mot, nuit_et jour, pas_a pas, pot_-au-feu, pot_au lait, pot_au 
roses, pot_a eau, de pied^en cap, pied^-a-terre,^ petit^a petit, 
tout_a coup, tout_a vous, tout_a I'heure, tot^ou tard, vis_-a 
vis, etc. 

And even accent^aigu, un droit^acquis, etc. 

But there is no longer liaison in the following phrases : 
Nez a nez, du riz au lait, un chaud et froid, au doigt et a Vceil, 
de long en large, un pot a tabac (this last for the sake of euphony). 

210. The above six categories contain all the cases where 
liaison is considered correct at the present day. But several 
other instances of liaison occur whenever the tone of speech 

^ The common people even use liaison in the case of quatre by 
inserting z between it and a word beginning with a vowel (see § 208, 
footnote), as le bal des Quatre Arts [katzair], quatre officiers [katraz 
ofisje] . 

2 But there is no liaison in such an expression as avoir pied \ a terre, 
where the words are not a compound. 


becomes more elevated or careful. Thus, the verb and its 
complement may be linked, as il est^en ville, cela m'est^egal, 
Us ont fait June machine, ditesjun mot, faitesjun beau travail, 
and there may be other cases difficult to classify, such as 
pret^d sortir, ceux^et elles, des chats^et des chiens, etc.^ 

211. Note that liaison does not occur : 

Xi) In the case of a mute consonant which follows 

an r : Thus, de pari en part [da pair d pair], il court encore 
^~fil4?u!rak3ir], hordd bord [boir a boir], corps et dme [kor e aim], 
le nord-est [I9 norest], le nord-ouest [I9 norwest],^ vers un but 
[ver de byt], mort ou vif [moir u vif]. But liaison takes place 
with s after r in compound words regarded as single words, 
as tiers^etat, or when the s denotes the plural, as leurs^amis, 
divers^auteurs, plusieursjiistoires ; with t in verbal forms 
in the interrogative, as a quoi ga sertjil ; generally with t in 
the adverb fort, as fort^excellent ; and sometimes with s in 
toujours, as toujours^est-il gentil. It may also take place 
with t in such expressions as mort^aux rats, cela ne sert^d 
rien, etc., to avoid a discordant sound. 

(2) Generally in the case of the plural s in compound 
nouns. In such nouns the pronunciation is therefore the 
same in the plural as in the singular, as : 

Un arc-en-ciel 
Un char-a-bancs 
Un ver-a-soie 
Un croc-en-jambe 
Un cuiller a cafe 
Un guet-apens 
Un pot-au-feu 
Un pore- epic 
Une salle a manger 
Un fer a repasser 

des arc(s)-en-ciel 
des char(s)-a-bancs 
des ver(s)-a-soie 
des croc(s)-en-jambe 
des cuiller(s) a cafe 
des guet(s)-apens 
des pot(s)-au-feu 
des porc(s)- epics 
des salle(s) a manger 
des fer(s) a repasser 

1 Liaison is usual when one of the conjunctions et or ou unites two 
substantives in the plural, the second of which or both of which have 
no article, as les ponts^et chaussees, les voiesjet moyens, vertusj&t vices, 
vinsjet liqueurs, femmes^ou enfants. But there is no liaison of course in 
such an expression as deux heures et demie. 

2 Many people, however, carry the d forward in nord-est [nordsst] 
and nord-ouest [nordwest], doubtless by analogy with sud-est, sud-ouest. 


(3) Before h * aspirate,' as les hews [le ero], un heros [de ero], 
en Hollande [a olaid]. 

(4) Before a numeral (see § 170), as mes huit oncles [me 
qit Slid], les onze animaux [le oiz animo], son onzieme jour 
[so ozjem 3uir], Louis onze [Iwi oiz],^ cent un [sa ce], cent 
unieme [sa ynjem], quatre-vingt-un [katrgvede]. Notice that 
when un is used as a numeral, and not as an article or sub- 
stantive, there is no liaison or elision before it : stcr les une 
heure [syr le yn oeir], ecrivez le un [ekrive la de].^ 

(5) Before the [w] of oui and ouate, and the y of many 
words when it precedes a vowel [yacht, yatagan, etc.), as mi 
oui [de wi], mais oui [me wi], la ouate [la wat], deux yachts [d0 
jak], un bon yankee [de bo jaki] ; also before uhlan, as les 
uhlans [le yld]. In the case of ouate, however, although the 
French Academy recommends that there be no liaison before 
it, some well-known writers take the opposite view, and 
at all events an e mute is often elided before it, such ex- 
pressions as une ouate [yn wat], plein d' ouate [pis dwat], 
being common. The word took liaison up to the sixteenth 
century at least, and the medical profession speaks of r ouate. 

(6) After the conjunction et, as jeune et aimahle [3oen 
e Emabl]. 

212, As already stated, liaison varies according to the 
tone of speech. Just as e mute vowels are pronounced more 
frequently according as the tone is more elevated, until we 
come to verse where they are all pronounced, so the number 
of liaisons increases as the tone becomes less familiar, and in 
verse as many as possible take place, not only in the interior 
of a stress-group, but even between one group and another, 
so as to avoid hiatus, which is forbidden there. Thus, in 
verse we have les murs pesent^en vain, il faut vengerjun 
pere, puisjil sHnterrompit^et dit^d ses disciples. The fact is 
that liaison, which is reaUy the reappearance under certain 
conditions of a letter not now pronounced, a * dead letter,' is 
a result of conservative methods of speech, and this explains 
why it is more frequent in reading aloud, in recitations, in 

1 But liaison may take place between the t of the verb eire and onze, 
as il est onze heures [il et 3:z ce:r], and always takes place in such 
expressions as pag{e) onze, pag{e) un, qu ar ant {e)- huit, dix-huit, etc. 

2 But if used, e.g. as a substantive, as in tvois un (meaning ' three 
ones '), or in cent un (' one hundred ones '), liaison takes place [trwaz&, 


theatrical oratory, in verse, and generally in elevated speech, 
and why the common people manifest a tendency to depart 
from it more and more. 

213. The fact that in liaison the final consonant of one 
word becomes the initial of the next is a frequent source of 
confusion to learners. It creates for them, as it were, a 
large number of new words, unknown before, and makes it 
difficult at first for them to understand the reader or speaker. 
For example, they hear such a simple sentence as cette petite 
affaire estja moi, but they cannot remember (and for good 
reason !) such words as * taffaire ' and * tamoi.' Instances 
of the same kind are frequent among French children, who 
constantly confuse the limits of words. A proper under- 
standing of liaison, with a careful persevering effort to pick 
out the true words in spite of the initial added consonant, 
will soon enable a beginner to overcome these difficulties. 

For the same reason, liaison is an abundant source of puns 
and jokes. Thus, it is sometimes asked. Quel est le premier 
homme du monde ? Answer, Le rhum de la Jamatque. During 
the Revolution in 1790, a humorist denounced a certain 
convent as containing cinq canons et vingt-cinq armes. On 
examination, the place was found to have cinq dnons et vingt- 
cinq carmes I 


(i) Quand_on_est_en_Italie, on parle italien. II me faut^etablir 
mes^enfants. Ils_y pensent sans_inquietude. S'il avait_appris 
cette nouvelle^ il nous_aurait_aide. Charles a deux^oranges, 
j'en^ai cinq. Mes plus_aimables_amis ne sont pas^ici^ ils 
sont_en_Espagne. Ces petits^enfants sont^ici sans^abri. En^arri- 
vant, nous_avons_entendu le tonnerre. Voici un grosjiomme 
avec un grand^ours. Parlez_-en a vos^amis. 

(2) The following passage has been divided into stress- 
groups and the liaisons marked in the interior of each group 
where they occur. The student is recommended to read 
it aloud carefully, with due attention to elision and accent 
as well as to liaison : 

C'etait^a Bologne. | II y avait^eu | une entrevue | entre 
le pape | et I'empereur ; | il s'agissait | du duche | de 
Florence^ | ou, pour mieux dire, | du sort | de ITtalie. | On_ 


avait vu | Paul Trois | et Charles-Quint | causer^ensemble 
I sur une terrasse, | et pendant leur entretien | la ville entiere | 
se taisait. | Au bout d'une heure | tout^etait decide ; | un 
grand bruit d'hommes | et de chevaux | avait succede | au 
silence. | On_ignorait | ce qui allait_arriver, | et on s'agi- 
tait I pour le savoir ; | mais le plus profond myst^re | avait^ete 
ordonne ; | lesjiabitants | regardaient passer | avec curiosite | 
et avec terreur | les moindres^officiers | des deux cours ; | on 
parlait | d'un demembrement | de I'ltalie, | d'exils, | et de 
principautes | nouvelles. | Mon p^re | travaillait | a un grand 
tableau^ | et il etait_au haut de I'echelle | qui lui servait^a 
peindre, | lorsque des hallebardiers, | leur pique | a la main, | 
ouvrirent la porte | et se rang^rent | contre le mur. | Un 
page I entra | et cria | a haute voix, | " Cesar ! " | Quelques 
minutes^apr^s, | I'empereur | parut, | roide [red] | dans son 
pourpoirit, | et souriant | dans sa barbe rousse. | Mon p^re, | 
surpris^et charm e | de cette visite | inattendue, | descendait j 
aussi vite qu'il pouvait | de son^echelle ; | il etait vieux ; | en 
s'appuyant | a la rampe, | il laissa tomber | son pinceau. | 
Tout le monde | restait^immobile, | car la presence | de 
I'empereur | nous_avait changes | en statues. | Mon p^re | 
etait confus | de sa lenteur | et de sa maladresse, | mais_il 
craignait, | en se hatant, | de se blesser ; | Charles-Quint | fit 
quelques pas_en_avant, | se courba | lentement, | et ramassa | 
le pinceau. | " Le Titien, | dit_-il, | d'une voix claire | et 
imperieuse, | le Titien | merite bien | d'etre servi | par Cesar." 
I Et avec une majeste | vraiment | sans^egale, | il rendit | le 
pinceau | a mon p^re, | qui mit_un genou en terre | pour le 
recevoir. | A. de Musset, Le Fils du Titien 

(3) The student is invited to divide the following passages 
into stress-groups for himself and note the liaisons. Each 
passage, after being thus treated, should be read aloud 

(i) II n'y a rien au monde qui se fasse tant admirer qu'un 
homme qui sait etre malheureux avec courage. — Seneque. 

(2) Les peuples jeunes ne voient que ce qu'ils ont a gagner, les 
vieilles nations songent a ce qu'elles ont a perdre. 

(3) La faveur qu'on merite est toujours achetee. — Corneille. 

(4) La delicatesse est pour les ames elevees un devoir plus 
imperieux que la justice. — Mme de Stael. 


(5) II est plus honteux de se defier de ses amis que d'en etre 
trompe. — La Rochefoucauld. 

(6) II est plus aise de juger quelqu'un apr^s une heure de 
conversation dans un salon qu'apr^s dix ans de vie commune. 

(7) La politesse, c'est Part de faire ce qui vous ennuie comma 
si cela vous amusait. 

(8) Quand on rit d'un obstacle, il est presque vaincu. —  


(9) Toutes les passions sont exagerees ; elles ne sont des 
passions que parce qu'elles exagerent. — Chamfort. 

10) Affecter de savoir ce qu'on ignore, c'est tendre un pi^ge 
dans lequel le plus leger incident pent vous faire tomber. 

11) Si vous voulez etre riche, n'apprenez pas seulement 
comment on gagne, sachez aussi comment on menage. 
— Franklin. 

12) Aux yeux des partis, qui cesse d'etre un esclave devient 
un deserteur. — J. Simon. 

13) C'est jouir du bonheur que de voir sans envie le bonheur 
des autres et avec satisfaction le bonheur commun. — 


14) II y,a de violents outrages que Ton oublie, et des paroles 
maladroites que Ton ne pardonne jamais. 

15) L'ame qui n'a pas de but etabli s'egare et se perd ; c'est 
n'etre en aucun lieu que d'etre par tout. — ^Montaigne. 

16) La dignite de notre espece n'est pas moins attestee 
par les oeuvres du coeur que par celles du genie. 

17) Les passions, qui sont de bons auxiliaires, sont de mauvais 
conseillers. — Balmes. 

18) II est impossible de porter le flambeau de la verite dans une 
foule sans bruler la barbe a quelqu'un. 



(accent d'insistance) 

214. Emphasis is the special stress given to any part 
of a sentence to which the speaker wishes to call particular 
attention. It is of every degree, from the most forceful to 
where it ceases to be emphasis. Its place in a sentence is 
not fixed, as that of the rhythmic accent is. It falls wherever 
the meaning requires it, occasionally on phrases or on state- 
ments of some length, but generally on single words. It 
throws the syllable on which it falls, and consequently the 
word, into greater prominence than what precedes or follows, 
and in this way sometimes changes the meaning considerably. 
Thus, the English sentence, " Did you motor there yesterday ? " 
may have five different meanings according as the emphasis 
is placed on one or the other of the five words. " Did you 
motor there yesterday ? " has quite a different meaning from 
" Did you motor there yesterday ? " It is this emphasis on 
individual words that we deal with in this chapter. It is 
extremely frequent in ordinary French conversation or 
oratory, because the French tend to be emotional, animated, 
or emphatic in their speech ; and the student will thus 
see the necessity of practising it carefully and perseveringly, 
until he acquires facility in it, as no French pronunciation 
can be really good without it. 

215. How is such emphatic accent expressed in French ? 
It depends upon circumstances. There are different cases to 
consider : 

I. When the Word has more than one Syllable 
In such cases the emphasis is scarcely ever expressed by 
reinforcing the rhythmic accent, if the word has one, as an 
English student would imagine should be done. This would 



spoil the language by robbing it of its variety. Occasionally 
it may be expressed by stressing every syllable in the 
word, as par-faite-ment ! But generally, indeed in almost 
every case, it is done by putting more stress on another 
syllable than the last one, and thus bringing the word 
into special prominence. For example, in the sentence, 
Cest un miserable, cet homme, uttered normally and without 
emotion, there is the usual slight stress on the last syllable 
of miserable, but as soon as the word is pronounced with 
emphasis or feeling, as frequently happens, a separate stress, 
much stronger than the other, falls on another syllable 
(in this case, the first one), as c'est un miserable, cet homme! 
The rhythmic or tonic stress still remains on the last syllable, 
but the emphatic stress is more intense, and therefore more 
noticeable. There are many words which, owing to their 
very nature, are more frequently spoken in this way than 
normally. This is so with emotional words, expressing 
fear, joy, grief, astonishment, etc. Among these are ad- 
jectives like terrible, effrayant, incroyable, desolant, malheureux ; 
adverbs like beaucoup, extremement, parfaitement, certaine- 
ment ; verbs like fremir, pleurer, hurler ; nouns like scelerat, 
miserable, assassin ; and practically all words of abuse, such 
as cochon, fripon, gaffeuse, etc. 

216. The question as to which of the syllables, other than 
the last one, should take the emphatic accent, depends on 
certain conditions, as follows : 

(i) If the word forms part of a rhythmic element, i.e. 
if it does not stand alone, isolated as it were, the syllable 
stressed is usually the first one commencing with a 

consonant, as : c'est repugnant, je suis si malheureux, c'est 
absolument vrai. The reason why the first syllable, if it 
begins with a vowel, is passed over, is that in this case it 
would be necessary to include in the stress the final consonant 
of the preceding word, and this would sound rather absurd 
and even amusing. Further examples are : 

C'est epouvantable, quelle barbaric, c'est un imbecile, c'est 
un vol magnifique, c'est impossible, il est assommant, il s'en- 
fongait dans son lit, vous etes un assassin. 

In such a case the initial consonant is made very long, being 
generally more than double in length. Thus barbaric becomes 


[biarbari]. While the rhythmic accent does not permit of 
any consonantal lengthening, the emphatic accent finds 
its peculiar characteristic in the fact that the consonant is 
vigorously seized upon and prolonged (hence the French 
name, accent d'insi stance), and this should be remembered by 
students, as English emphasis does not generally put stress 
on the consonant. 

In addition, the vowel of the emphasized syllable is in- 
creased in height and intensity ; but it is not increased in 
duration, i.e. lengthened, except in cases where it is already 
long or half-long (see 104 (3), (4) 3). Thus, in the expression 
il y en a heaucoup, the b is very sensibly prolonged ; and 
the vowel following, being already half-long, takes on full 
length or even more [boiku], as it does likewise in il pleurait, 
il est vivant, etc. If the vowel be short, it cannot be 
lengthened, although the other changes referred to occur, 
as pa,rfaitement} 

217. (2) If the word forms a rhythmic element by 
itself, i.e. if it is isolated, it takes the Emphatic Accent on 
the first syllable, whatever it be, as : 

Cat homme est fou. — Absolu- 

Je crois qu'il mentit. — Abomi- 

II est tr^s gentil. — Extreme- 

Attention J s'il vous plait. 
Aujourd'hui^ je me moque de 

ces choses. 

Compare the following examples, which show clearly the 
difference between such cases and the previous ones : 

C'est incroyable. — Incroyable, mon cher monsieur, incroy- 

Ce discours est assommant. — Assommant. 
Le bruit etait epouvantable. — ^pouvantable. 

The emphatic stress must not be placed on any other 
syllable, except under exceptional circumstances. The forms 
epouvantable and epouvantable are both correct, each in its 

^ An exception is [e], which, may take on extra length (§ 20). 

Cette femme est stupide. — ^Com- 

Voulez-vous le voir ? — Certaine- 

Mais il I'a dit. — Precis ement. 
C'est un immense obstacle. — 

Formidable ! 
Misericorde 1 


place, but epouvantable would not be so under normal 

Where the initial syllable commences with a vowel, the 
consonantal lengthening, which is such a feature of the 
emphatic accent, is not wanting. In such cases the consonant 
or group of consonants following the vowel is prolonged, 
although not quite so much as when a consonant commences 
the word. 

II. When the Word is Monosyllabic 

218. In such cases, if the word has no rhythmic accent, the 
emphasis is of the same nature as that already described, 
consisting in the lengthening of the consonant, and an in- 
crease of height, intensity, and (in allowable cases) of duration 
in the vowel. But if the word has the rhythmic accent, there 
is no increase as a rule in the height or intensity of the vowel. 

Sometimes the word is quite small and indeed insignifi- 
cant apart from the emphasis, as : 

C'est la meme personne, ce n'est pas vrai^ ce n'est rien, 
voila trois jours que nous ne parlons que d(e) cette affaire. 

In this last example, the word trots would otherwise be 
unaccented, being an adjective of number, and coming more- 
over before an accented monosyllable (§ 202), but it here 
receives the emphatic accent because the speaker wishes 
to draw attention to the time occupied. The word que, too, 
is not only an unaccented word naturally, but has an e mute 
vowel which might be elided in ordinary circumstances, as 
nous n{e) parlons qu{e) de cette affaire ; but here the e mute 
reasserts itself and the word is forcibly stressed in order to 
make prominent the fact that a certain affair has been talked 
of to the exclusion of all others. Further examples are : 

Vous etes le sel de la terre ; il faut faire juste ; regardez 
bien ; vous, maintenant ; c'est bien fait ; il n'y a que deux 
sortes de geas au monde ; c'est si amusant ; voila tout ce 
que je te permets. L'Ecosse est le plus beau pays que j'aie 
vu. Fais ton pain^ je n(e) te nourris plus. Vous I'avez dit ? 
Non, je ne I'ai pas dit. 

219. We have stated that the emphatic accent does not 
destroy the rhythmic or tonic one on the last syllable of a 


stress-group : it is merely supplementary to it. Thus in 
c'est epouvantable, cette affaire, uttered with emotion, there 
are two accents on epouvantable — the emphatic on -pou-, and 
the usual one on -table. Similarly in je reste, tu fen vas, 
je and tu have the emphatic accent, but this does not prevent 
the usual one on reste and vas. The two accents each serve a 
different purpose. The rhythmic one is to be expected : it 
is normal and regular, and can produce no effect beyond 
its rhythmic function. The emphatic accent, on the other 
hand, is unexpected : it comes forcibly, sometimes indeed 
violently, and serves to draw immediate attention to the 
word on which it falls. It acts so suddenly and strongly that 
one would sometimes fancy that the rhythmic accent has 
disappeared. But the latter is still there, and only under 
certain conditions of weakness is it diminished. One of 
these conditions is the end of a sentence. If the em- 
phatic syllable be near the end — say the last but two — the 
tonic stress at the end is apt to suffer. This is due to the 
habit of letting the voice drop, combined with the special 
energy just expended on the emphasis. But the diminution 
of stress is only slight, for the speaker's object is to make 
the word prominent, and he consequently does his best to 
sustain all its syllables. Again, in those cases where the 
emphatic stress faUs on a syllable immediately preceding 
the tonic stress, there is usually some diminution of the latter, 
arising from the difficulty that always exists in making an 
effort twice immediately in succession. If the word happens 
also to be the last one in the sentence, the diminution is 
sometimes considerable, although never so great as to cause 
the disappearance of the rhythmic or tonic accent. The 
final syllable always remains clear and distinct, and more 
intense than an unaccented one. 

220. Another method of emphasis remains to be referred 
to. Sometimes words or groups of words occur in series. 
They may for instance form an enumeration, or a gradation, 
or be placed in opposition to each other. In such a case 
the emphatic accent, instead of being placed on the really 
important words, may be placed on the initial syllable, 
whatever it may be, of the various groups which corre- 
spond to each other, and consequently sometimes on a word 
quite insignificant in itself. The effect produced is the same, 


for the attention is immediately drawn to the whole group by 
emphasizing an insignificant word at the commencement 
of it. Sometimes either method may be chosen. We give 
examples which will easily be understood without further 
explanation : 


J'ai etudie le vegetal dans tons ses mysteres, dans la tige, 
dans le bourgeon^ dans le sepale, dans le petale, dans 
I'etamine, dans le carpelle, dans Tovule, dans la th^que, 
dans la sporange^ et dans I'apothecion. — Victor Hugo, 
VHomme qui rit. 

J'entre dans un cabinet de lecture et je lis a haute voix en 
parcourant les casiers. Revue commerciale, Revue litteraire, 
Revue des Cours, Revue historique, Journal des Savants, 
Revue des Deux Mondes, Bulletin financier, Revue arche- 
ologique. Journal des Rentiers, Bulletin hebdomadaire, 
Journal de la Marine. 


II avait remarque la superposition des fleaux, les rois sur 
le peuple, la guerre sur les rois, la peste sur la guerre, la 
famine sur la peste, la betise sur le tout. (Or one might here 
say, '' les rois sur le peuple, la guerre sur les rois, la peste 
sur la guerre, la famine sur la peste, la betise sur tout.") 

C'est dans la politique que se font, defont, et surfont les 

Allez-vous au theatre ce soir ? Impossible, monsieur, 
tout a fait impossible. 


Donnez et pardonnez. L'homme propose, et Dieu dispose. 

II ne donnait de satisfecit a qui que ce soit ni a quoi que 
ce soit. 

Ce que vous appelez arranger, je I'appelle deranger. 

Dechirez vos cceurs et non vos vetements. 

Faut-il dire et redire la meme chose ? 

II y a beaucoup de difference entre les conservateurs et 


From the last example it will be noticed that when once 
the emphatic stress has fallen on the first syllable of one of 
the words in a series, it falls on the first syllable of all those 
which follow, even though beginning with a vowel, and 
in this case any consonant carried over in liaison takes 
its part in the emphasis and provides the consonantal 


The following extract will afford abundant illustrations 
of the rules in this chapter. Obviously, the emphasis might 
be differently placed according to the individual peculiarities 
of the speaker, but apart from such variations the stresses 
represent the pronunciation of a careful reader or speaker. 

Le plus souvent, | je partais | pour le college | a jeun, | 
I'estomac | et la tete | vides. | Quand ma grand'm^re | venait 
nous voir, | c'etait le bon jour ; | elle m'enrichissait | de 
quelque petite monnaie. | Je calculais | alors | sur la route | 
ce que je pourrais bien acheter | pour tromper | ma faim. | 
Le plus sage | eut ete | d'entrer | chez le boulanger ; | mais 
comment | trahir | mapauvrete | en mangeant | mon pain sec | 
devant mes camarades ? | D'avance, | je me voyais | expose | 
a leur rire, | et j'en fremissais. | Cet age | est sans pitie. | 

Aujourd'hui, | cette indigence | nee | de la persecution, | 
fierement, | noblement | supportee | par les miens, | fait ma 
gloire. I Alors, | elle me semblait | une honte, | et je la 
cachais | de mon mieux. | Terrible respect | humain. | 

Pour echapper | aux railleries, | j'imaginais | d'acheter | 
quelque chose | d'assez substantiel | pour me soutenir, | et 
qui ressemblat | pourtant | a une friandise. | Le plus sou- 
vent, I c'etait le pain d'epice | qui faisait les frais | de mon 
dejeuner. | II ne manquait pas | de boutiques | en ce genre | 
sur mon chemin. | Pour deux sous | on avait un morceau | 
magnifique, | un homme superbe, | un geant | par la hau- 
teur I de la taille ; | en revanche, | il etait si plat, | que je 
le glissais | dans mon carton, | et il ne le gonfiait gu^re. | 

Pendant la classe, | quand je sentais | le vercige | me saisir, | 
et que mes yeux | voyaient trouble | par I'effet | de 1' inani- 
tion, I je lui cassais | un bras, | une jambe, | que je grigno- 
tais I a la derobee. | Mes voisins | ne tardaient gu^re | a 
surprendre | mon petit manage. | " Que manges-tu la ? " | 


me disaient-ils. | Je repondais, | non sans rougir, | " Mon 
dessert." | 

On dit I que les souffrances | physiques | sont bonnes | a 
Tame. | On voit | que j'etais dans I'etat | le plus propre | a 
developper | la mienne. | Mais le corps, I lui, | a ete de- 
prime. I Malgre | les adoucissements | qui sont venus | plus 
tard, I je porte | toujours | ce temps | en moi. | . . . Mes priva- 
tions I peuvent se resumer | en trois mots : | jusqu'a quinze 
ans, I point de viande, | point de vin, | point de feu. | Du 
pain, I des legumes | le plus souvent | cuits a I'eau | et au sel. | 
Si j'aisurvecu, | c'est que malgre | les souffrances | etla sante j 
ruinee | de ma m^re, | la saine constitution | de mon p^re | 
prevalut | en moi. | Le travail, | les habitudes | de la vie | 
solitaire | que je menais | avec mes parents, | me soutinrent | 
aussi, I me rendirent | actif, | mais sans me fortifier | jamais, | 
de sorte | que ma chetive figure | reste | comme un monu- 
ment I de ces temps de deuil. | Les cicatrices | que garde | 
ma main droite | temoignent | des temps d'hiver | passes sans 
feu. I Et cependant, | parmi les coups | et contre-coups | 
qu'un enfant | semblait | ne pas pouvoir | supporter, | je 
restai | pour les voir, | et vivant | pour les raconter." | 

Jules Michelet 


221. Frequently, when two sounds (either vowels or con- 
sonants) come together, one of them tends to become as- 
similated to the other, borrowing part of its characteristics, 
so as to avoid a sudden change in the position of the vocal 
organs. Vocalic assimilation has already been referred to 
(§ 29). We have it in such words as etais, eleve, ehene, where 
the first vowel (e) is often pronounced half -open or open [e], 
owing to the tongue anticipating the position of the second 
vowel by descending. But further reference need not be 
made to such cases, as assimilation between vowels is not 
nearly so frequent as between consonants. Instances of 
assimilation between consonants are common both in English 
and French. Thus, in English, the plural s, while it retains 
its proper sound in such words as ropes, docks, butts, practically 
becomes [z] in robes, dogs, buds, i.e. it is voiced through 
assimilation to the voiced consonant preceding. In the same 
way, in French, two adjoining consonants frequently have 
an active influence on each other. The characteristics of 
the one pass in part or even completely to the other, with 
the result that considerable modifications of sound may be 
produced. In some cases where the assimilative process 
is very old, it shows itself in the ordinary spelling, as in 
chercher, which has taken the place of the ancient form 
cerchier. But there are numerous cases where the assimila- 
tive influence exists without any change in the spelling. 
Thus, we have anecdote [anegdot], Strasbourg [strazbuir], 
transvaser [trazvaze], in all of which the first of the two 
consonants is voiced to make it agree with the second ; and 
abces [apse], medecin [metsg], savetier [saftje], chemin de fer 
[/omEtfeir], in all of which the first is unvoiced for the same 

222. It is this kind of consonantal assimilation to which 



we refer in this chapter. It is common in French, especially 
in rapid speaking, where economy of effort is needed. It 
only occurs, however, when the two consonants come into 
immediate contact ; and an e mute between them does 
not of course prevent this, provided the e mute be elided in 
pronunciation.^ Moreover, the assimilation consists as a 
rule in the first consonant being influenced by the second, 
as in the examples just mentioned (compare English cwp- 
board). Such assimilation is generally called regressive, 
but the term ' anticipative ' seems preferable, for the modi- 
fication in the first consonant is not exactly due to some 
influence from behind, but rather to an anticipation, conscious 
or sub-conscious, of the second consonant, an act of foresight, 
as it were, on the part of the organs of perception, which put 
themselves in position well in advance. When, as occasion- 
ally happens, the second consonant is influenced by the 
first (compare English dogs, observe, etc.), the assimilation is 
known as progressive, but this kind only occurs in French 
as a rule when the second consonant is /, m, r, or one of the 
semi-consonants [w, j, q], as clef [kje], peuple [poepj], quatre 
[katj-], pied [pje]. In such cases the second consonant 
loses voice under the influence of the first (see § 186 (2)). 
This kind of assimilation, however, need occasion no difiiculty. 
For all practical purposes it may be neglected, as the voice 
will usually disappear unconsciously. 

223. The regressive cases of assimilation may be divided 
into two classes : 

I. In the interior of words or well-known phrases : 

Here the assimilation is often of a complete kind, i.e. not 
only is there a voicing or unvoicing of the first consonant 
to make it correspond with the second, but the mode of 
assimilation, the force of utterance, etc., become assimilated 
also. In other words, the first consonant becomes practically 
of the same type as the second. Thus, in chemin de fer 
[fametfeir], as popularly pronounced, the d not only loses 
its voice, but really becomes a t. It should be remembered 
that there is a difference : an unvoiced d is not exactly a t, 
for the former has the point of articulation slightly different 
and is also pronounced with much less force ; nor is a voiced 

^ Thus, in second, if the e be ehded, we have [zgo], but otherwise 



/ practically the same as a d, for the same reasons.^ But, 
as just stated, when assimilation occurs in the interior of a 
word or group of words closely connected, it is not always 
restricted to the mere voicing or unvoicing of the first con- 
sonant (although this is the most frequent mode of assimila- 
tion in other cases), but is often of a more complete character. 
This is particularly the case in rapid conversation, where 
direct or sudden changes in the organs of speech are frequently 
neglected. In slow or elevated speech, on the other hand, 
complete assimilation would shock the ear, and would be 
condemned by all masters of diction ; and this should be 
remembered by the student in his desire to acquire a good 
pronunciation. Examples : 

Gibeci^re [3ipsJ8ir] 
Jeter [/te] 
Sauvetage [softai3] 
Clavecin [klafse] 
Gisivete [wazifte] 
Rejeton [rajto] 
Eczema [egzema] 
Second [zgo] 
Afghan [avga] 
Susdit [syzdi] 

De temps en temps [tiazata] 
Rez-de-chaussee [ret/ose] 
Valet de chambre [valet/dibr] 
Chauve-souris [fofsuri] 
Garde champ etre [gartJapEitr] 
Haut de forme [otform] 
Haut-de-chausses [ot/ois] 
Au-dessus, la-dessus [otsy, latsy] 
Coup de pied [kutpje] 
Sauve-toi [softwa] 

224. Note the following special cases in the interior of 
words : 

(i) The prefixes ab-, ob-, sub- : Here the h practically 
becomes p before a voiceless consonant, as abstenir [apstgniir], 
obtenir [optoniir], subterfuge [sypt8rfyi3]. Other examples: 
absent, absinthe, absolu, abstrait, observer, obscur, obseder, 
substance, subtil, substituer, etc. The word subsister, how- 
ever, is frequently pronounced [sybziste], with progressive 

Similarly, in the prefixes dis-, trans-, the s becomes 
[z] before a voiced consonant, as disgrace [dizgrais], disjoindre 
[diz3W8idr], transgresser [trozgrese], transborder [trazborde]. 
Other examples : disgregation, disjonctif, transvaser. 

(2) When s precedes b or m : Here the assimilation may 

1 In phonetic transcript, mere unvoicing may be denoted by o under 
or over the consonant, as [^], [b], etc., and mere voicing by v, as [t], 
[p], etc. 


either be regressive or progressive, but the regressive is the 
more usual with b, and the progressive with m, as sbire 
[zbiir], presbytere [prezbiteir], asthmatique [asipatik], en- 
thousiasme [atuzjasiji].^ Other examples : asbeste, Lisbonne, 
Ratisbonne, Strasbourg, jasmin, prisma, lyrisme, rhumatisme, 
cataplasme, mutisme, hero'isme, Christianisme, etc. When 
thus unvoiced, the final m is so faint that it frequently dis- 
appears in popular speech (compare r, I, § 186 (3)).^ This 
is specially so in long words, where the [sm] becomes merely 
a more or less prolonged [s]. Hence a common word 
like rhumatisme has three pronunciations, [rymatism], or 
[rymatizm], which are equally good, and [rymatis], which is 
only used by * the people.' 

When sm is initial (which occurs only in foreign words), 
it is always pronounced [sm], as in smalah, smilax, Smyrne, 

(3) When m is initial : Here, as in the preceding cases, 
it frequently loses its normal voiced form, and becomes [m]. 
The word monsieur, e.g., is usually pronounced [m9sj0], with 
the m voiced, but frequently in hurried speech the e mute is 
elided, and the m, coming under the influence of the s, loses 
its voice, the word becoming [msj0]. In such cases the 
unvoiced m in careless speech sometimes loses its nasal sound 
and becomes a p, as [psj0]. 

(4) When s follows 1 : Here there is a progressive as- 
similation, the s being voiced, as Alsace [alzas], alsatique 
[alzatik], balsamier [balzamje], balsamine [balzamin], Belsunce 

225. 2. Between words : In this case the assimilation is 
only partial, not complete. It is restricted to the mere 
voicing or unvoicing of the first consonant, as une grande 
tasse [yn grattais], une pauvre femme [yn poffam], une robe 
sombre [yn ropsoibr]. In such cases the first consonant does 
not exactly become the same as the second, although it may 
be written so phonetically. In such a sentence as je viens 

^ It is in Switzerland and Belgium that the regressive assimilation is 
mostly found with m [azmatik], etc, 

2 The same phenomenon appears, in popular speech, in words in 
-iste {artiste, anarchiste, etc.), which tend to be pronounced as if the 
final was -isse [artis], [anarjis]. Even such words as prdtexte, insecte, 
etc., become [pretsks], [essk], etc. This is a freedom of language, 
however, that should be avoided. 


d{e) servir, the d does not become a t, but only a more or less 
unvoiced d [d] ; otherwise it would be identical with je viens 
t(e) servir. Any speaker who would make the assimilation 
between words more than partial would utterly spoil both 
his meaning and pronunciation, and would be put down at 
once as a foreigner. Examples : 

Consonants of same order 
II frappe bien [frabbje] 
Un esclave fugitive [£sklaffy3itif] 
Une tete d'homme [tsddom] 
Tu faches Georges [fcL33or3] 
II navigue constamment [navik- 

Ne tombe pas [no toppa] 
Une route droite [ruddrwat] 
Une pipe blanche [pibblaij] 
Une vache jaune [va33oin] 
Une page charmante [paj/armdit] 
Un vase sacre [vassakre] 
Un singe superbe [sejsyperb] 

Consonants of different order 
Je te crois [Jtakrwa] 
^feglise protestante [eglisprotes- 

Grog chaud [grok/o] 
Un brave coeur [brafkoeir] 
lis savent tout [saftu] 
Chaque jour [Jag3uir] 
Est-ce bien [ezbjs] 
Un bee d'aigle [bsgdegl] 
L'archeveque de Paris [lar/aveg- 

Quinze francs [kesfrci] 
Cap Vert [kabveir] 
Et ainsi de suite [eesit sqit] 

Care must be taken, as we have said, to make the assimila- 
tion only partial, consisting of the mere voicing or unvoicing. 
The difference thus produced is evident by comparing such 
expressions as tete carree, tete dure ; un Arahe deguenille, 
un Arahe cruel ; il se repose beaucoup, il se repose toujours, 

226. The above two classes do not entirely exhaust the 
subject. In addition to voicing or unvoicing, we sometimes 
have sounds becoming nasalized or denasalized through 
assimilation. Any vowel or consonant, for example, placed 
between nasals, tends to become more or less nasalized itself, 
as moi-meme [mwameim], maman [mdma], rongeant [r53a], 
en venant [avna]. The Americans in particular are inclined 
to nasalize all vowels in contact with nasal consonants, as 
[5m], [yn], [kan], etc. Sometimes, when a plosive is nasalized 
in this w^ay, it is turned into its corresponding consonant 
(see § 90) . Thus, d becomes n, h becomes m, and g becomes 
the English [g], as pendant [pana], lendemain [lanms], une 
tombe neuve [tomnoeiv], une longue main [logme]. The reason 


for this is that there is no difference, for example, between 
d and n except the lowering of the velum for the latter, and 
as it has to be lowered for the vowel preceding and the one 
following, it is only natural that it should tend to remain 
down for the consonant between them. At the same time, 
such influences as those we refer to in this paragraph should 
be resisted, even in rapid or familiar speech. They are 
regarded as provincial or dialectical, and the form of words 
produced is less harmonious than the correct one. 

Finally, all tendency to assimilation should be resisted 
beyond what is really natural and well recognized. The 
changes referred to are spontaneous and involuntary. They 
are only legitimate when the speaker is unconscious of them. 
If a learner is rather halting or embarrassed in his French, 
as is very probable, the conscious use of assimilative forms 
will only make it disagreeable or even grotesque to polite 


227. By Intonation is meant the rising and falling of the 
voice, in other words, its musical movement. In solemn 
reading there is usually not much of this : the voice merely 
rises to denote an interrogation or exclamation, and falls 
at the end of sentences. But in ordinary speaking the voice 
rarely maintains itself on the same musical note : it is con- 
stantly moving upward and downward through a certain 
number of notes. This is the case more or less in all 
languages, every word-group having a melody of its own. 
It follows that if the intonation is not good, the utterance 
is unmelodious and unattractive. It is almost impossible 
to lay down specific laws in the matter, as the risings and 
fallings are sometimes very delicate. All that we propose 
to do in this chapter is to give some general indications of 
the movements in simple declarative sentences, excluding 
interrogative and exclamative ones, which are dealt with later. 

228. Every declarative sentence consists of two parts, 

the first having an upward inflexion, denoting incompleteness 
of statement, and the second a downward one, denoting 
completeness. This is specially noticeable if we take simple 
sentences containing only two stress-groups, such as the 
following : 

Si vous voulez, || je viendrai. 
Cette table || est lourde. 
On sonnait le couvre-feu. 

Je I'ai entendu, || mais je ne le 

crois pas. 
Je me promenais || dans le jardin. 
II demande || de I'argent. 

In each of these the voice rises to the end of the first group, 
suggesting that the statement is still in suspense, and then 
falls to the end of the second, implying that the statement 
is now being concluded. The movement in such simple 



cases might be roughly expressed by two obHque Hnes, 
thus : ' 

Usually, however, sentences are longer than these, and 
each of the two parts may contain any number of stress- 
groups. Sometimes each part has an equal number. In 
Alexandrine verse, for example, when a line embodies a 
complete statement in itself, the hemistichs contain two 
stress-groups each, the first hemistich taking the upward 
inflexion and the second the downward one, as : 

Son ombre | vers mon lit || a paru | se baisser. 

In prose too there is frequently an equality of groups, and 
occasionally this may mount up to a dozen or more groups 
in each part of a sentence. Bossuet's writings contain a 
large number of such, as : 

A mesure | qu'il approchait, || je le voyais | disparaitre. 

II n'y a point | de puissance | humaine || qui ne serve | a 
d'autres desseins | que las siens. 

Celui I qui insultait | a I'aveuglement | des autres || tombe | 
lui-meme | dans des ten^bres | plus epaisses. 

Generally, however, each sentence has an inequality of 
groups, as in the following examples, where the last group 
alone forms the downward part : 

Tout bonheur que la main n'atteint pas |1 est un reve. 
II n'y a rien que les hommes aiment mieux conserver et 
qu'ils menagent moins || que leur propre vie. 

229. As stated above, in all such cases of simple declaration, 
the first part of the sentence, viz. that which leaves the 
meaning in suspense, is spoken with the upward inflexion so 
as to sustain the attention, while the second part, which 
satisfies or removes the suspense, is uttered with the down- 
ward inflexion, which makes the hearer feel that the sentence 
is being concluded. If we intended to say // n'y a pas \\ de 
bonheur, the expression il n'y a pas would of itself leave the 


meaning incomplete and in suspense : it must therefore take 
the upward inflexion. The expression de bonheur adds the 
completeness intended and removes the suspense : it must 
therefore take the downward inflexion. If we wished to 
lengthen the statement and say // n'y a pas de bonheur \\ au 
sein de Vinsincerite, the expression il n'y a pas de bonheur 
would be incomplete, still leaving the meaning in suspense : 
it must therefore take the upward inflexion, while the re- 
mainder of the sentence takes the downward one. If we 
wished to say still further, // n'y a pas de bonheur au sein de 
Vinsincerite, \\ parce qu'on n'y trouve pas de repos, the whole 
sentence up to the final syllable of insincerite now takes the 
upward inflexion for the same reason, and the rest takes the 
downward one. Similarly, we might have the following 
sentences, each complete in itself : 

La joie || se trouve. 

La joie se trouve || au fond de toutes choses. 
La joie se trouve au fond de toutes choses, || mais il appartient 
k chacun de Fen extraire. 

230. Such examples as we have given are sufficient to 
illustrate the intonation or musical movement of ordinary 
declarative sentences. The punctuation marks of common 
orthography correspond to some extent to this movement. 
Generally speaking, a comma or semi-colon denotes an upward 
inflexion, and a full stop indicates a downward one, while 
the clauses between commas take a dependent place in the 
general movement. Such rules, however, are by no means 
absolute, as punctuation marks are meant for other purposes. 
In long sentences, the movements can never be fixed and 
determinate, as speakers differ from each other in sub- 
ordinate clauses, and it would be absurd to prescribe definite 
rules in such a case. But with all good speakers the main 
characteristics of the movement remain, however long or 
involved the sentence is. What these characteristics are 
will be still more evident from a separate examination of each 
of the parts : 

231. I. The Upward Part: In this part the first 
stress-group rises gradually to a certain height, sometimes 
amounting to four or five notes. The second group, and the 
following ones, whatever their nature, maintain this height 



generally. They each commence on a somewhat lower note 
than the previous group ends on, but their tonic syllable rises 
generally to the highest note of that group, although not 
usually exceeding it. The last group commences like the 
others, but it always finishes on a rising note as high as any 
preceding ones, and in many cases even higher. Conse- 
quently, if we take such a sentence as : 

On y voit | dans ces prairies | errer a I'aventure || des trou- 
peaux I de trois ou quatre mille | buffles sauvages, 

the whole upward part has a form something like the 
following : 

Fig. 7 

The special characteristic of this part is that throughout 
it, from the first syllable to the last, there are no sudden 
movements or leaps, but a well-marked undulation, without 
anything resembling angles. Whatever alteration is made 
takes place by degrees or glides. In this respect speaking 
differs from singing, in which the notes generally follow each 
other by leaps. In speaking, the voice glides through the 
intervening notes : it does not pass from a higher note to a 
lower one by a sudden drop, but meets it half-way, as it 
were, and the movements can only be . represented as above 
by a curved line, which in music would require the term 
glissando. No doubt there is less of the glide in French than 
in English, but it is a characteristic to some extent of all 
speech, particularly of the upward intonation. 

232. 2. The Downward Part : This part commences with 
a sudden drop, without any intervening notes or undulation. 
Beginning with its first syllable, therefore, the whole of it 
is generally spoken on a lower level. At the same time all 
the groups contained in it, except the last, take the same 
movements as those in the upward part, i.e. the first group 
gradually rises a few tones and the rest follow with frequent 
undulations. But the general characteristic is that the 
low notes sink lower than those in the upward part, and the 


high notes do not rise so high (see Fig. 8 below). There is 
thus a gradual fall from group to group, the fall amounting 
to one note at least in each group. The last group reaches 
its end frequently by a gradual descent rather than an un- 
dulation, and finishes on a much lower note than the upward 
part commenced on. The fall from the highest note of the 
whole sentence to the concluding one is generally six or 
seven notes, but may sometimes be more than an octave. 
In the case of many excellent French speakers, indeed, the 
last note often sinks so much that it practically loses its 
sonority, and becomes breathed or whispered. This is 
particularly the case with the high vowels, i, y, u (§ 102), 
and sometimes happens even in short expressions {il est parti, 
il y en a beaucoup, etc.). The whole sentence, including both 
parts, has thus a movement resembling the following : 

Fig. 8 

Though it may sometimes happen that several successive 
sentences in a paragraph are declarative ones, terminating 
with the downward inflexion, yet this inflexion need not 
become monotonous ; because, as every sentence may vary 
in the commencing note, it may likewise vary in the con- 
cluding one. Due attention to this will prevent the re- 
currence of any wearisome sameness of tone at the end of 
every sentence. 

233. A parenthetical or incidental clause does not affect 
the construction of the sentence within which it is inserted, 
and consequently only takes a subordinate part in the musical 
movement referred to. It requires a pause before and after 
it, so as to give it an isolated and independent character, 
and is pronounced with a depression of voice and somewhat 
faster than the rest of the sentence ; but it generally rises 
a little towards the end, in conformity with the general 
intonation. Examples : 

Je I'avais attrape, continua le bandit, et cela me faisait 


II lui donnera^ repondirent les ambassadeurs, sa fille et la 
moitie de son royaume. 

A ces mots ranimal pervers 
{Cest le serpent que je veux dire 
Et non V Homme ; on pourrait aisSment ^'y iromper), 
A ces mots, etc. 

234. The taking of breath does not in any way modify 
the intonation. Breath should be taken, as a rule, at the 
end of every sentence. If the sentence is rather long, it 
may be taken between the two parts, or if necessary between 
any two stress-groups ; but on no account should it be taken 
in the middle of a stress-group. The breathing should not be 
clavicular, but rather by depression of the diaphragm ; and 
the student should practise the power of holding the breath, 
and expending it slowly and equally as the sentence is uttered. 


I. Read the following sentences aloud with the proper 
intonation : 

(i) L' eloquence du coeur || persuade aisement. 

(2) La cause du faible || est un objet sacre. 

(3) II y a dans ce monde || si peu de voix et tant d'echos. 

(4) Celui qui fait le bien en son temps || a travaille pour les 

(5) Pour vivre en paix avec les hommes, || il faut leur passer 
bien des inegalites de caract^re. — ^Montesquieu. 

(6) Pourvu qu'on sache la passion dominante de quelqu'un, || 
on est assure de lui plaire. — Pascal. 

(7) Les plaisirs de la jeunesse reproduits par la memoire || sont 
des ruines vues aux flambeaux. — Chateaubriand. 

(8) Les gens d'esprit font beaucoup de fautes || parce qu'ils ne 
croient jamais le monde aussi bete qu'il est. 

(9) Ceux avec qui vous perdez votre temps, et qui vous le 
derobent, || ne sont pas vos amis. 

(10) Pour les ames de bonne volonte, || il n'est pas une minute 
dans la vie qui n'ait son devoir. 

(11) La mort n'est que le plus puissant acte de la vie, || car elle 
enfante une vie sup^rieure. — Vergniaud. 


(12) Plus on est honnete homme, || plus on a de la peine a 
soupgonner les autres de ne I'etre pas. — Ciceron. 

(13) Quand on jette les bonneurs k pleines mains, || beaucoup 
d'indigents les ramassent et le merite se retire. 

(14) Si vous voulez vous consoler, || pensez a tous les maux dont 
vous etes exempts. 

(15) La pauvrete coute plus cher que toutes les richesses, || car 
on ne pent y arriver qu'cn donnant tout c.^ qu'on a. — 

(16) L'enfant devient pour ses parents, suivant I'education, || 
une recompense ou un chatiment. 

(17) Parmi tant de gens a qui nous prodiguons le titre d'amis, || 
la plupart le sont juste assez pour nous dire bonjour. 

(18) La simplicite de I'esprit et du coeur || est le meilleur moyen 
de comprendre le vrai. 

(19) L'homme qui combat pour la raison, pour la patrie, || ne 
se tient pas si aisement pour vaincu. — ^Mirabeau. 

(20) La masse de genie humain, par des alternatives de calme 
et d'agitation, || marche toujours, quoique a pas lents, vers 
une perfection plus grande. — ^Turgot. 

II. The following sentence from Guy de Maupassant, in 
Le Bonheur, is more complicated, but is an excellent specimen 
of intonation : 

" LTtalie, | ou chaque palais, | plein de chefs-d'oeuvre, | 
est un chef-d'oeuvre | lui-meme, | ou le marbre, | le bois, | le 
bronze, | le fer, | les metaux, | et les pierres | attestent | le genie 
de l'homme, | ou les plus petits objets | anciens | qui trainent | 
dans les vieilles maisons | revelent | ce divin souci | de la 
grace, || est pour nous tous | la patrie sacree | que Ton aime, | 
parce qu'elle nous montre | et nous prouve | I'effort, | la 
grandeur, | la puissance, | et le triomphe | de I'intelligence 


235. An interrogative sentence differs in intonation from 
a declarative one in that it is uttered more or less with a 
rising inflexion. As a rule, it commences with some word 
or words essentially interrogative, such as pourquoi, comment, 
est-ce, depuis quand, etc., or has the subject-pronoun placed 
after the verb, as Vient-il ? Es-tu sur ? Frequently, how- 
ever, such a sign is wanting, the speaker simply putting the 
words into the declarative form and contenting himself with 
the rise in the voice to give the interrogative meaning, as 
Vous ne Vavez pas dit ? Vous venez ? 

236. The main question is to determine what part of the 
sentence should take the rising inflexion, as its place is not 
always at the end of the sentence, but varies according to the 
meaning. We have pointed out in the last chapter that 
the usual declarative sentence has two parts, an upward one 
implying that the statement is incomplete and that something 
further is expected, and a downward one indicating com- 
pleteness. The interrogative sentence really corresponds to 
the first part only, i.e. it is an incomplete sentence. It has 
a continuative effect, pointing to more coming, but does not 
announce any more ; it indicates an expectation, but does 
not satisfy it. The downward or concluding part of the 
sentence, as it were, is wanting. Hence it is that an inter- 
rogative sentence is usually uttered with a rising inflexion, 
like the first part of an ordinary declarative statement ; and 
the tonic word or syllable, i.e. the one which receives the 
highest note of inflexion in the interrogative sentence, is the 
same one that would receive it, if the sentence were put into 
a declarative form, with both parts complete. To frame the 
declarative form, one has only to supply an answer of some 



kind to the interrogation, using identical or corresponding 
words. Thus : 

Interrogative ^ 
AUez-vous a I'etranger ? / 

Est-il sans argent ? / 

Quel chemin / a-t-il pris ? 

Pourquoi / m'en voulez-vous ? 
Pourquoi I'avez-vous puni ? / 

Corresponding Declaration 
Qui, c'est a I'etranger || que je 

Non, il n'est pas sans argent, || 

mais sans amis. 
II a pris le chemin || qui m^ne a 

Voici pourquoi || je vous en veux. 
Je I'ai puni || parce qu'il a 


237. These explanations will enable the student to under- 
stand the intonation of interrogative sentences. We now 
give some practical rules, based on these explanations, but 
subject to qualifications referred to afterwards : 

(i) If there is a specially interrogative word in the 
sentence, the rising inflexion is usually put on that 
word, while the rest of the sentence, containing merely 
complementary or subordinate ideas, is uttered on a lower 
tone, either level or falling. Thus : 

Comment / I'avez-vous trouve ? Pourquoi done / est-ce 
qu'il a dit ga ? Jusqu'a quand / restera-t-il ici ? A quoi / 
servent ces choses ? Sur quoi / donne votre fenetre ? 
Qu'est / -ce que ce monde-1^ ? 

(2) Similarly, when the interrogative clause is con- 
tained in one part of the sentence only, the rising 
inflexion comes at the end of that clause, as : 

M'as-tu entendu / quand je t'ai appele } lEtiez-vous 
fatigue? /dit le maitre. Que voulez-vous dire / avec ces 
demi-mots ? Est-ce qu'il est arrive, / mon cher Henri ? 
Est-ce clair maintenant, / monsieur } Et elle est sans fortune/, 
vous dites ? Avez-vous oublie votre commission, / mon 
ami ? As-tu dit cela, / malheureux ? On a frapp e : est-ce 
toi, / Perrette ? 

1 The sign (/), denoting a rising inflexion, is placed immediately after 
the tonic word or syllable. 


(3) In all other cases, the rising inflexion usually 
occurs at the end of the sentence, as : 

Partirez-vous ? / Travaillerez-vous ? / Est-il dans la 
chambre ? / Desirez-vous que je sorte d'ici ? / Vous ne le 
saviez pas ? / Voulez-vous me rendre justice ? / Viendra-t-il 
aujourd'hui ? / Tu veux me donner tant de mal ? / 

In such cases there is sometimes a struggle between two 
forces — ^the interrogation which requires the raising of the 
note, and the end of the sentence which tends to lower it 
as in ordinary declarative statements. Sometimes the latter 
force succeeds, so that we may have, e.g., partirez-vous, with 
vous somewhat lower than -rez, although not so low as it 
would have been without the influence of the interrogation. 
The question, as so put, is much less pressing than partirez- 
vous ? I 

238. The above three rules are subject to qualification. 
Instead of the rising note being placed as mentioned, it may 
be placed on some other word in the sentence, but in this 
case the meaning of the interrogation becomes changed. The 
tone being shifted, as it were, to this other word, the attention 
is specially drawn to it. It becomes the main word in the 
sentence, expressing the principal thing regarding which in- 
formation is desired. It still corresponds to the word of 
highest note in the declarative sentence, but the form of this 
sentence becomes correspondingly altered. For example, 
instead of the rising note being placed on the specifically 
interrogative word (as in pourquoi / a-t-il dit ga?), it may be 
placed at the end of the sentence (as pourquoi a-t-il dit ga? I), 
but in the former case, where the tone is on pourquoi, it is 
understood that some reason exists for the utterance, and 
the questioner wishes to know what this reason was, whereas 
in the latter case, where the tone is on ga, weight is rather 
laid on what was uttered (why did he say that, and not some- 
thing else ?). The former question would correspond to the 
declarative statement voild pourquoi \\il a dit ga, while the 
latter would suggest il a dit ga, \\ parce qu'il n'a pas pu dire 
autre chose. 

The meaning of an interrogation may thus be completely 
changed by a change in the ordinary intonation. The 
following are further examples of this : 


Alors pourquoi te donner tant de peine ? / Pourquoi 
n'avez-vous pas de temoins ? / De quoi s'occupent vos 
voisins ? / Comment appelles-tu 9a ? / Est-ce que vous 
voulez / le faire ? Que faites-vous / cet hiver ? Vous a-t-il 
dit / qu'il etait mon pere ? 

239. When in an interrogation there are two or more 
parallel sentences, the last one takes the downward inflexion 
( \ ), as : 

Apprenez-vous la geographic, / ou I'histoire naturelle ? \ 
Est-ce pour 9a qu'il est parti, / ou pour une autre chose ? \ 
Apporte-t-on la lampe pour la mettre sous le boisseau, / ou 

sous le lit ? / N'est-ce pas pour la mettre sur le chandelier ? \ 
Quel est, parmi les animaux, celui qui marche a quatre 

pattes le matin, / a deux pattes a midi, / et a trois pattes le 

soir ? \ 

The upward inflexion, however, is required on the last of the 
parallel sentences, if it is merely in apposition to the pre- 
ceding one — that is, if it has the same relative meaning, as, 
cueille-t-on des raisins sur des epines, / ou des figues sur des 
chardons ? / The reason for this is, that in the other cases, 
the last clause represents the downward part of the sentence 
when turned into a declarative form, whereas in this case the 
downward part is wanting. 

240. Although an interrogative sentence corresponds to 
the first part of a declarative one, the two are not identical 
in intonation. As a rule, an interrogative sentence com- 
mences three or four notes higher, and in cases of excitement 
or passion its highest note is sometimes as much as an octave 
above the highest note of a declarative sentence. The rise 
too is more sudden and rapid, much of it taking place on the 
tonic syllable itself. 


241. An exclamation or an exclamative sentence is an 
abrupt, inverted, or elliptical utterance, arising from sudden 
and intense emotion, as Maudit soil ce jour-ld ! Yilou que 
vous etes ! Quelle idee I 

We have seen that the characteristic of interrogations is 
a rising inflexion on the tonic word, but the characteristic 
of exclamations is the Emphatic Stress. The specially 
significant word in the phrase or sentence, as in the examples 
just given, receives a great access of strength. In particular, 
the first syllable in it beginning with a consonant 
is seized upon forcibly and uttered with unusual stress. The 
consonant is more prolonged than under ordinary em- 
phasis. The vowel does not remain on a uniform note, 
but takes a slight rising inflexion (although not much, as 
height does not necessarily play any part in exclamations) ; 
and what is most important of aJl, the whole syllable, 
including generally the consonant following, is pronounced 
with great intensity, sometimes three or four times greater 
than in ordinary emphasis. These features may vary more 
or less according to the speaker and the circumstances, but 
they constitute the essential characteristic of all exclamations. 
Thus, in the sentence, vous etes un iripon, we have an 
ordinary declarative sentence, uttered with the usual em- 
phatic stress on fri-. But if we say, iripon que vous etes ! 
the sentence becomes an exclamation, and the syllable frip- 
now takes all the features of duration, height, and intensity 
just described. Further examples : 

Si vous saviez ! Bete que tu es ! La canaille ! Miserable 
que vous etes ! Bigre ! Gaffeuse ! Diantre ! Fichtre ! 
Gare ! Ciel ! Ferme ! 

242. We have pointed out (§ 217) that in ordinary emphasis, 



a word commencing with a vowel may take the emphatic 
stress on the first syllable, provided the word is isolated, 
as it were. In exclamations, however, an initial vowel 
never receives the full stress, the reason being that it 
does not afford sufficient support for an intense effort of 
voice. The main exclamative stress invariably falls on the 
next syllable, the initial consonant of which serves to give 
the support needed. This consonant is lengthened, and it 
is the vowel following it which receives the increased height 
and the full intensity. The contrast between the first syllable 
and the second serves to enhance the effect. Examples : 

Imposteur que tu es ! Intriguant qu'il est ! Imbeciles 
que nous sommes ! Abruti ! Ivrogne I Assassin ! 

243. Where there are interjections {oh! ah 1 hah 1 etc.), 
or specially exclamative words [que, comhien, comme, quel, 
etc.), these usually receive the main effect of the voice, and 
the rest of the sentence is pronounced as usual with pro- 
gressive descent, as : 

Oh I monsieur, que c'est joli ! Quels chameaux ! 
Comme je vous remercie ! 

The stress in such cases consists in a lengthening of all 
the consonants in the word (or of its vowel, if there be no 
consonant), and a considerable increase in height and in- 
tensity. The first consonant or group of consonants of the 
word following (unless this word be merely parenthetical) also 
shares in the lengthening. Thus, in the examples just given, 
the c' which follows que, the ch which follows quels, and the 
/ which follows comme are lengthened. The reason for this 
is that the word or expression following que, quel, etc., is 
really as regards signification the most important in the 
sentence ; and though robbed of its emphasis through the 
shifting of the stress away from it, it naturally retains its 
consonantal lengthening almost intact. Further examples : 

Oh ! dit-il, que j'etais sot ! Ah ! vous vous etes trompe ! 
Que d(e) crimes ils ont commis ! Que d(e) fois je suis venu 
ici ! Que d(e) services il m'a rendus ! Que c(e) souvenir 
vous est agreable ! Quelle perfidie ! Quels fripons ! 
Quelle mauvaise affaire ! Quel beau jardin ! Combien 
Ne^ etait br^ve | 


Frequently, however, the stress, instead of falling thus on 
the interjections and specially exclamative words, falls on 
the really important or emphatic word. This is particu- 
larly the case if the speaker wishes to draw special attention 
to this word, or set it in relief. Instead, therefore, of saying, 
quel emhetement ! with the exclamative stress on quel, we may 
say, quel emhetement, with the full effort of voice on the 
syllable -bete-. Other examples : 

Quel outrage, cette affaire ! ciel ! Quelle impatience ! 
Quelle effronterie ! Oh ! le miserable ! Oh ! la canaille ! 

244. In those cases where the exclamative word is reduced 
to its mere consonantal element through the elision of the 
e mute, this element still takes the usual lengthening and 
intensity, but instead of the vowel following the elision being 
stressed, the full effort of the voice falls on the first syllable 
having a rhythmic accent. The following are examples of 
this kind of exclamation, which is very common : 

ciel ! dit men oncle^ qu'il est absurde de parler des 
grosses dents ! 

Oh ! mademoiselle, qu'il est difficile de faire ce que vous 
dites ! 

Imbecile ! qu'il est dangereux d'agir ainsi ! 

Qu'il etait nigaud de croire toutes ces balivernes ! 

Qu'on est a plaindre quand on est pauvre ! 

There are many other varieties of exclamations or exclama- 
tive sentences besides those to which reference has been made 
in this chapter, but sufficient has been said to enable the 
student to understand how to pronounce them. 



245. Clearness of articulation, correct accent, right em- 
phasis, proper grouping and intonation, suitable inflexion, 
and all the other qualities already mentioned are necessary 
for good French. But assuming that all these have been 
acquired, something more is still needed, viz. Expression or 
Sound-shading. As a rule, even fluent conversationalists or 
public speakers, unless they have this soul-quality, will fail 
to influence or please. The most finished speaker is the one 
who has so mastered every shade of expression that he can 
adapt his tone to the special subject. After all, words and 
sentences are mere abstract and neutral symbols of human 
thought, and it is the particular shading given to them which 
reveals the soul of the speaker and gives life and interest 
to what he says. Appropriate * shading ' may completely 
change the signification of a sentence : it may impart to such 
phrases as ga va hien, vous Vavez dit, je devrais, etc., an ironical 
or doubtful meaning, the opposite of the literal one. It 
is not a case merely of individual words, but also of clauses, 
sentences, and even paragraphs. This being so, a good 
speaker, by enlisting the power of expression, materially 
assists his hearers to understand his subject, while a speaker 
who neglects this makes intelligent hearing laborious and 
unpleasant. Two violin players may perform the same piece, 
both displaying equal command over the technical difficulties ; 
yet the playing of the one may hold a listener spell-bound, 
whilst the other performance scarcely serves to awaken 
interest. In the one case the violinist enters into the play- 
ing, infuses his spirit into it, and gives it life, while the other 
merely produces dead sound. So with speaking, and par- 
ticularly with French, which can assume the most varied 
shades, there must be a union between the speaker and the 
matter of his speech. He must realize what he says, and 



must put soul and heart into it. Ideas of lightness and 
dignity, storm and calm, love and hate, etc., must be ex- 
pressed by distinct alterations of voice. A practised speaker 
would not in the same tone or manner describe soldiers 
charging and children playing, or a meeting with friends 
and a struggle with a burglar. 

246. This expression or sound-shading is very marked in 
French on account of the emotional character of the people. 
It is impossible, of course, to lay down definite rules for it — 
every person cannot have the same power of expression : 
it must come from inspiration and experience. It is suffi- 
cient here to draw attention to the matter, and to mention 
the following points : 

(i) The High Tone (denoted in phonetic script by r before 
the sentence) rises above the usual key. As already pointed 
out, it occurs in interrogation and exclamation. It is also 
used to express astonishment, excitement, eagerness, elevated 
and joyous feelings, impetuous and imp^llsive passion, invective, 
and anything which renders the speech intense. Thus : 

' Es-tu la } ' Auguste I ' Te voila deja ! I Assez^ tu me fais 
mal ! 

It is also proper for stirring description or animated talk. 

(2) The Middle Tone is the tone of habitual utterance 
or address unmarked by any of the above feelings, and is 
used in ordinary conversation, declarative statements, narration, 
descriptive remarks, moral reflection, or calm reasoning. Thus : 

Tu es la. C'etait a Paris. La pensee fait la grandeur de 
I'homme. II demeure a Rennes. 

(3) The Low Tone (denoted by i_) falls below the usual 
speaking key, and is employed in expressing feelings deeper 
than ordinary, such ^sfear, incredulity, secrecy, grief, sorrow, 
solemnity, gloom, melancholy, contempt, irony, and concentrated 
passion. Thus : 

l^ah ! |_Quel idiot ! j^oyez tranquille ! ( Je tremble que 
votre supercherie ne soit decouverte. | Je suis triste 
aujourd'hui. ~ 

Similarly, a humble or supplicating request is uttered on a 


low tone, while a summary refusal, on the other hand, takes a 
high tone, as : 

|Voulez-vous bien me tirer d'embarras ? 'Certainement non ! 

247. The simple words oui and non, according as they are 
uttered, may express the most varied ideas. For example, 
in the case of oui, the ordinary falling inflexion {oui \ ) denotes 
affirmation, pure and simple (" Yes, that is so "), while a 
stronger falHng one (oui \) denotes irony, indifference, doubt. 
The ordinary rising inflexion [oui / ?) expresses simple inter- 
rogation, while a stronger rising one (oui I/}) corresponds to 
great surprise or astonishment. Indeed, the shades imparted 
by the voice are so expressive that oui may become equiva- 
lent to a negative, and non to an affirmative. 


248. The rhythm of a sentence depends, among other 
things, upon the recurrence of stressed syllables at regular or 
fairly regular intervals. In this sense it belongs peculiarly to 
poetry, where it reaches its maximum, but it is found more 
or less in well-constructed prose. A person of rhythmic ear, 
though using only the plainest phraseology, may make it flow 
with poetic smoothness. 

In French these stressed syllables are the final ones of stress- 
groups, i.e. those which have the Tonic Accent. If the words 
in a sentence are selected and arranged in such a way that 
these tonic stresses occur with a measured or timed movement, 
the sentence is rhythmical in the sense just mentioned. Many 
French speakers do this instinctively to some extent, not 
only in elevated stye and public speaking, but even in 
ordinary conversation, and their sentences thus become more 
effective and more pleasant to the ear. Though the stress- 
groups may vary considerably in the number of their syllables, 
a speaker can equalize them to a large extent by dwelling 
longer on the shorter groups — ^in other words, by lengthening 
out their syllables. But as this draws attention to them 
somewhat by putting them in relief, it is necessary that the 
meaning should admit of this being done. 

249. The good rhythm of a sentence, however — what is 
known as Eurhythmy — depends on more than mere regularity 
of accent. In the fine arts, such as sculpture, architecture, 
and painting, eurhythmy is the harmonious combination of 
the various lines and parts, and the term when applied to 
diction has a similar meaning. It has already been pointed 
out in the chapter on Intonation that the ordinary French 
sentence may be divided into two parts, the first having an 
upward inflexion, and the second a downward one. Each 



of these parts may consist of several stress-groups, tv/o 
or more of which may be combined syntactically. It is 
only when these groups and combinations of groups are 
so arranged that those in the second part correspond 
harmoniously to those in the first, that a sentence pos- 
sesses eurhythmy. In other words, the whole movement of 
the sentence from first to last must be strictly harmonious 
in its various sections, modelled according to the ideas ex- 
pressed, and producing the effect intended. As it is evident 
that in uttering a sentence these groups and combinations 
require to be correctly grasped by the speaker before 
they can receive the proper intonation, or duration, the 
necessity arises for dealing with the subject in a manual of 

250. To explain the matter more particularly, we cannot 
do better than here give the famous introductory sentence 
from Bossuet's oration on Henriette-Marie de France. This 
sentence has frequently been quoted as a specimen of perfect 
eurhythmy, and one feels on reading it that it possesses 
wonderful equilibrium and harmony : 

" Celui qui r^gne | dans les cieux, | et de qui reinvent | tous 
les empires, | a qui seul | apoartient | la gloire, | la majeste, | 
et rindependance, || est aussi le seul | qui se glorifie | de faire 
la loi I aux rois, | et de leur donner, | quand il lui plait, | de 
grandes | et de terribles | lemons." ^ 

It will be noticed that the sentence, which divides itself 
after Vindependance, has perfect equilibrium, there being 
exactly the same number of stress-groups, viz. nine, in each 
of the two parts. But what is really of consequence, the 
sentence is perfectly harmonious throughout, for the com- 
binations of groups which are specially joined by syntax 
correspond in the two parts. Thus, the first part contains 
group-combinations of (2-f 2)+5, and the second 4+5. Even 
the important words in the one part correspond by position 
to similar or opposite words in the other. Thus, the word 
wis occurs in the second part in the place where empires 

1 In familiar speech, de grandes et terribles legons would form only one 
stress-group, but Bossuet's elevated style, like that of verse, requires 
an accent on grandes and on terribles. (See § 203.) 


appears in the first, and the word legons in the place where 
Vindependance is found. 

We here give other examples of the same type of eurhythmy, 
in which both equilibrium and harmony are found, with the 
various combinations of groups in figures after each example : 

L'homme ideal^, | le poete divin, | le grand artiste || defie 
seul I le temps [ et les revolutions. | — Renan. (3 || 3.) 

La justice | et la verite | sont deux pointes | si subtiles, || 
que nos instruments | sont trop mousses | pour y toucher | 
exactement. | — Pascal. (4 II 4-) 

Mais si les lois | de I'etat | s'opposent | a son salut | 
eternel, || Dieu | ebranlera | tout I'etat | pour I'affranchir | de 
ces lois. I — BossuET. (2, 3 || 3, 2.) 

En arrivant | a un certain carrefour | ou nous nous 
separions | pour prendre | des directions | differentes, || nous 
fumes frappes | a la fois | de I'attitude | contemplative | de 
Jean-Frangois | les Bas-Bleus. | — Nodier. {2, 4 || 4, 2.) 

Quand I'obstacle | etait surmonte^ | et que I'attelage j 
reprenait | sa marche | egale | et solennelle, || le laboureur J 
jetait un regard j de contentement j paternel | sur son enfant, | 
qui se retournait | pour lui sourire. | — George Sand. {2, 5 || 
5; 2.) 

251. Perfect equilibrium, however, .is not necessary for 
good rhythm. Not many sentences, indeed, except in elevated 
style, are of this kind, and a too frequent recurrence of them 
would prove wearisome. The vast majority have an unequal 
number of stress-groups in each part. Nevertheless, they 
may be * well-rhythmed,' provided the harmony of the two 
parts is maintained. By this is not meant that the two 
parts should be similar in grammatical form, as in the 
sentence. Pour convaincre, il suffit de parley a V esprit ; pour 
persuader, il faut alter jusqu'au cceur. This would be what 
is known as a ' balanced' sentence, but might not necessarily 
be proper rhythm. For eurhythmy, as already indicated, the 
combinations of stress-groups in the one part must 
correspond to combinations in the other, i.e. these com- 
binations must contain the same number of groups or 
multiples of them. The four sentences which immediately 
follow the one already quoted from Bossuet's exordium will 
show the matter more clearly than several pages of theory : 


Soit qu'il eUve | les trones, | soit qu'il les abalsse, | soit 
qu'il communique | sa puissance | aux princes, | soit qu'il la 
retire | a lui-meme, | et ne leur laisse | que leur propre faib- 
lesse, II il leur apprend | leurs devoirs j d'une mani^re | 
souveraine | et digne de lui. | (3, 3, 2, 2 || 2, 3.) 

Car, en leur donnant | sa puissance, || il leur commande | 
d'en user j comme il fait | lui-meme j pour le bien | du monde. | 
(2 II 2, 2, 2.) ^ ^ 

Et il leur fait voir, | en la retirant, || que toute leur majeste j 
est empruntee, j et que, pour etre assis | sur le trone, | ils 
n'en sont pas moins j sous sa main | et sous son autorite j 
supreme. | (2 || 2, 2, 2, 2.) 

C'est ainsi | qu'il instruit | les princes, || non seulement | 
par des discours | et par des paroles, j mais encore | par des 
effets I et par des exemples. | (3 || 3, 3.) 

In the first sentence, the upward part, which has ten stress- 
groups, commences with two combinations of 3 and ends with 
two of 2, while the downward part, which has exactly half 
the number of groups, commences with one combination 
of 2 and ends with one of 3, without having any other com- 
bination to cause disharmony. In the second and third 
sentences, the upward parts contain each a combination of 2, 
while the downward parts have the same combinations in 
a series, without there being anywhere a combination of 3 
to spoil the harmony. In the fourth sentence, the upward 
part, containing a combination of 3, is followed by a down- 
ward part containing two of the same, but nowhere is there 
a combination of 2 to disturb the rhythm. 

We give below some further examples, constructed on 
different types, but each presenting a specimen of excellent 
rhythm. Some of these examples no doubt might be divided 
up differently, as no two Frenchmen might utter a sentence 
exactly the same way. The tonic stress might be suppressed 
or added at some points, and even the separation line between 
the two parts might be otherwise placed ; but it will be 
found that the divisions here given are in consonance with 
the ideas conveyed, and that, even if these divisions were 
altered, the harmony as a rule would not be affected : 

Si nous n'avions pas | de defauts, || nous ne prendrions 
pas I tant de plaisir | a les remarquer | chez les autres. | 
— La Rochefoucauld. (2 || 2, 2.) 


Paraitre | un moment, | jeter un eclat | doux et pro fond, | 
mourir | trds jeune, || voil^ la vie | d'un Dieu. | — Renan. 
(2, 2, 2 II 2.) 

Son nom j qu'il a toujours \k la bouche, j ses myst^res | 
qu'il traite | si divinement, || rendront j sa simplicite | toute- 
puissante. | — Bossuet. (3, 3 || 3.) 

Cette superbe puissance, | ennemie j de la raison, | qui se 
plait I a la controler j et a la dominer, | pour montrer | com- 
bien elle peut | en toutes choses, || a etabli | dans I'homme | 
une seconde nature. | — Pascal. (3, 3, 3 || 3.) 

Un enfant | de six | a sept ans, | beau j comme un ange, | 
et les epaules | couvertes, j sur la blouse, | d'une peau 
d'agneau, || marchait | dans le sillon j parall^le | a la charrue, j 
et piquait | les flancs | des boeufs | avec une gaule j longue j 
et leg^re, | armee | d'un aiguillon. | — George Sand. (3, 2, 4 || 

4, 3, 3, 2.) 

En somme, j malgre les exactions | des gouverneurs | et 
les violences | inseparables | d'un gouvernement | absolu, || le 
monde, | sous bien | des rapports, | n'avait pas encore ete | 
aussi heureux. j — ^Renan. (i, 2, 4 || i, 2, 2.) 

252. Whenever the harmony referred to is lacking, there 
is no eurhythmy in the proper sense of the term. In such 
cases the rhythm is said to be discordant. It may not 
necessarily, however, on this account be bad rhythm. It is 
a departure from the normal, a contrast to what should be 
expected, but for that very reason the speaker may produce 
an effect with it which otherwise would be unfelt ; for it is 
by departing from the usual rule and presenting some un- 
expected combination of groups that he can generally arrest 
attention and produce effect. Pascal's sentence, Le silence \ 
eternel \ de ces espaces \ infinis || m'effraie, | (2, 2 || i), shows a 
complete break of harmony, but he thereby puts the last 
group into special prominence and makes it speak more 
forcibly. Without a frequent break of rhythmical harmony, 
important ideas would not be set in relief, and sentences 
would tend to become weak and monotonous. The rhythm, 
though broken, is not faulty so long as it accords with the 
ideas meant to be conveyed. We give two or three examples 
of discordant rhythm, intended to produce effect : 

Seul I il est assis | a la droite j de Dieu le P^re i| pour 
I'etemite. | — Renan. (4 || i.) 


Que si vous me demandez | comment tant de factions | 
opposees, | et tant de sectes | incompatibles^ | qui se devaient 
apparemment detruire | les unes les autres, | ont pu si 
opiniatrement | conspirer ensemble | contre le trone royal^ || 
vous I'allez apprendre. | — Bossuet. (5, 2, 3 || i.) 

LDrsqu'en voyageant j.dans la presqu'ile | armoricaine, | on 
depasse | la region, | plus rapprochee | du continent, | ou se 
prolonge | la physionomie gaie, \ mais commune, | de la 
Normandie | et du Maine, | et qu'on entre | dans la veritable | 
Bretagne, | dans celle qui merite | ce nom | par la langue | 
et la race, || le plus brusque changement | se fait sentir | 
tout a coup. I (3, 4, 5, 3, 4 II 3.) 

253. As the object of discordant rhythm is to produce 
effect, the speaker or writer should guard against the habit of 
drifting into it in almost every sentence. The indiscriminate or 
excessive use of it not only defeats its object, but keeps the 
mind of the hearer or reader always tense, expectant, and 
on the alert, and thereby produces mental fatigue. Some 
writers seem to be so constituted that they can only think 
by contrast or disproportion, with the result that their pages, 
though beautiful otherwise, are filled with discordant sentences 
of which the reader soon tires. To avoid such results, a 
frequent return should be made to harmonious rhythm, 
which is pleasant to the ear and affords rest to the mind. 

Great pains should be taken to secure the art of good 
rhythm, as the power possessed by it to make speaking 
pleasant and effective is very great. Perhaps nowhere over 
the range of elocutionary effects can the taste and skill of 
the speaker be more fully displayed than here. No one, of 
course, can speak by rule, but one can so master an art as to 
exercise it unconscious of its rules. 

254. We referred at the commencement to regularity of 
stress. In French versification this regularity reaches its 
maximum. The lines, according to traditional rule, usually 
consist of an equal number of written syllables, but the 
important point is that they have a fixed number of stress- 
groups, equal or almost equal in length. It is not so much 
the number of syllables as this regular distribution of accents 
that is the fundamental principle in French poetry, as in 
all poetry ; and to pronounce the lines correctly, one should 


be able to beat time regularly so that each beat falls on the 
accented syllable in a group. The following from Corneille's 
Horace will show this : 

Que le courroux | du ciel, | allum4 | par mes voeux, | 
Fasse pleuvoir | sur elle | un deluge | de feux ! | 
Puisse-je | de mes yeux | y voir tomber | ce foudre, | 
Voir ses maisons | en cendre, | et tes lauriers | en poudre, | 
Voir le dernier | Remain | a son dernier | soupir, | 
Moi seule | en etre cause, | et mourir | de plaisir. | ^ 

Poetry can only sound rhythmical, as it is meant to do, 
if this regularity of stress is observed. Each stress-group, 
of course, may not have the same number of syllables, any 
more than a bar of music has the same number of notes, 
but each group should have equal time, as each bar of music 

^ The emphatic stress has been omitted, for the sake of clearness. 


Note, — The figures refer to the sections, n = footnote. 

-a, 38 (I) 

-a, 38 (2) 

-ab, 38 (I) 

-abe, 38 (I) 

-able, 38 (i), 41 (10), 

-abre, 41 (10), 186 
-ac, 38 (i) 
-ace, 38 (i) 
-ache, 38 (i) 
-dche, 41 (i) 
-achme, 38 (i) 
-acle, 38 (i), 186 
-acre, 38 (i), 186 
-act, 38 (i), 151 (4) 
-acte, 38 (i) 
-ad, -ade, 38 (i) 
-adre, 41 (10), 186 
-aen, 91 
-af, -afe, 38 (i) 
-afle, 38 (i), 186 
-afre, 41 (10), 186 
-ag, -age, 38 (i) 
-agne, 38 (i) 
-ague, 38 (I) 
-ai, 21 (3), 25 (4) 
-aible, 25 (4), 186 
-aiche, 25 {4) 
-aide, 25 (4) 
-aie, 21 (3), 25 (6), 

-aient, 25 (6), 69 
-aigle, 25 (4), 186 
-aigne, 25 (4) 
-aigre, 25 (4), 104 (4) a, 

-ail, 38 (I), 41 (4), 78, 

-aile, 25 (4) 
-aille, 41 (4), 76, 112 
-^im 97 

-aime, 104 (4) 2 c, 25 

-ain, 86 (4) n., 97 
-aine, 25 (4), 24 (3), 

104 (4) 2 c. 
-air, 25 (4) 
-aise, 25 (4) 
-aison, 25 (4), 31 (i) 
-aisse, 25 (4), 24 (3), 

104 (4) 2 c 
-aive, 25 (4) 
-al, 38 (i) 
-albe, 38 (i) 
-aid, -aide, 38 (i) 
-ale, 38 (I) 
-ale, 41 (i) 
-algue, 38 (i) 
-alme, 38 (i) 
-alpe, 38 (i) 
-alque, 38 (i) 
-alte, 38 (I) 
-alve, 38 (i) 
-am, 38 (i), 86 (4), 91 
-ambe, 91 
-amble, 91, 186 
-ambre, 91, 186 
-ame, 38 (i) 
-ame, 41 (i) 
-imes, 38 (2), 104 (4) 

2 a 
-amp, -ampe, 91 
-ample, -ampre, 91, 

-an, 38 (I), 86 (4), 91 
-ance, -anche, 91 
-ancre, 91, 186 
-ande, 91 
-andre, 91, 186 
-ane, 38 (i) 
-ang, 91 
-ange, 91 

-angle, 91, 186 
-anque, 91 
-ans, 129 (3) n. 
-anse, 91 
-ant, -ante, 91 
-autre, 91, 186 
-aon, 91 

-ap, -appe, 38 (i) 
-apre, 41 (i), 186 
-apte, 38 (i) 
-aque, 38 (i) 
-ar, 41 (II), 38 (i) 
-arbre, 38 (i), 186 
-arc, -arche, 38 (i) 
-ard, -arde, 38 (i) 
-are, 41 (11), 38 (i) 
-arge, 38 (i) 
-argue, 38 (i) 
-arle, 38 (i) 
-arme, 38 (i) 
-ame, 38 (i) 
-arpe, 38 (i) 
-arque, 38 (i) 
-arre, 38 (i), 41 (11) 
-arse, 38 (i) 
-artre, 38 (i), 186 
-arve, 38 (i) 
-as, 38 (i), 41 (2), 129 

-ase, 41 (8) 
-asme, 38 (i), 224 (2) 
-asque, 38 (i) 
-asse, 38 (i), 41 (3) 
-assion, 41 (9) 
-aste, 38 (i) 
-astre, 38 (i), 186 
-at, 38 (I), 151 (2) (3) 
-dt, 38 (2) 
-ate, 38 (I) 
-ates, 38 (2), 104 (4) 

2 a 



-ation, 41 (9) 

-ec, 25 (2) 

-atre, 38 (i), 186 

-ece, 25 (i), 104 (4) 2 c 

-atre, 41 (i), 186 

-6che, 25 (i) 

-au, 47 (7) 

-ect, 25 (2), 151 (4) 

-aube, 47 (7) 

-ecte, 25 (2) 

-auche, 47 (7) 

-ectre, 25 (2), 186 

-aude, 47 (7) 

-ed, 25 (2), 154 

-auffe, 47 (7) 

-ede, 25 (I) 

-auge, 47 (7) 

-Mre, 25 (I), 104 (4) a, 

-aule, 47 (7) 


-auld, 115 (3) 

-ee, 21 (i), 69, 104 

-ault, 115 (3) 


-aume, -aune, 47 (7) 

-een, 99 

-aupe, 47 (7) 

-ef, 25 (2) 

-auque, 47 (7) 

-efe, 25 (i) 

-aur, aure, 50 (3) 

-efle, 25 (I), 186 

-ause, -ausse, 47 (7) 

-ege, 25 (i) 

-aut, aute, 47 (7) 

-^gle, 25 (I), 186 

-auve, 47 (7) 

-egme, 25 {2) 

-aux, 47 (7), 159 

-egne, 25 (i) 

-ave, 38 (I) 

-egre, 25 (i), 186 

-avre, 41 (10), 186 

-egue, 25 (i) 

-ax, 38 (I), 159 

-eie, 25 (6) 

-axe, 38 (I) 

-eige, 25 (2) 

-ay, 25 (5) 

-eil, 25 (2), 78, 112 

-aye, 25 (5), 41 (7) n., 

-eille, 25 (2), 76, 112 


-eim, 97 

-az, 41 (8). 133 

-ein, 86 (4) n., 97 

-aze, 41 (8) 

-eindre, 97, 186 

-eine, 25 (2), 24 (3), 

-b, 147 

104 (4) 2 c 

-ble, -bre, 186 

-eize, 25 (2) 

-el, 25 (2) 

-ceps, 129 (2) 

-ele, 25 (I), :i04 (4) 

-ch, 136 (2), 156 
-cher, 123 

2 c 

-elions, -eliez, 189 (i) 

-ck, 156 

-elle, 25 (2) 

-cle, -ere, 186 

-em, 25 (2), 86 (4), 91 

-ct, 151 (4) 
-cueil, 67 n. 

-enable, embre, 91, 186 

-erne, 25 (i), 24 (3), 

104 (4) 2 c 

-d, 154 
-dre, 186 

-emment, 38 (3) 

-empe, 91 

-en, 86 (4), 91, 99 

-ence, 91 

-e, 21 (I) 

-ene, 25 (i), 24 (3), 104 

-eau, -eaux, 47 (7) 


-eb, 25 (2) 

-enfle, 91, 186 

-ebe, 25 (I) 

-ens, 99, 129 (3) n. 

-hh\e, 25 (i), 186 

-ent, 91, no 

-ebre, 25 (i), 104 (4) a, 

-ente, 91 


-entre, 91, 186 

-epe, 25 (i) 

-epre, 25 (i), 186 

-epte, 25 (2) 

-eque, 25 (i) 

-er, 25 (2), 123, 209 

(4) w. 
-erai, 69 
-erais, 69 
-erbe, 25 (2) 
-erce, -erche, 25 (2) 
-ercle, 25 {2), 186 
-erde, 25 {2) 
-erdre, 25 (2), 186 
-ere, 25 (i) 
-erement, 25 (i), 104 

(4) 3 n. 
-erent, 25 (i) 
-erf, 25 (2) 
-erg, -erge, 25 (2) 
-ergue, 25 (2) 
-erie, 69 

-erions, -eriez, 189 (i) 
-CFme, -erne, 25 (2) 
-erte, 25 (2) 
-erve, 25 (2) 
-erre, 25 (2) 
-erse, 25 (2) 
-es, 25 (I), 24 (i), 104 

(4) 2 b, 129 (2) 
-ese, 25 (I) 
-esme, 25 (2), 224 (2) 
-esque, 25 (2) 
-esse, 25 (2), 104 (4) 

2 c 
-est, -este, 25 (2) 
-estre, 25 (2), 186 
-et, 25 (2), 151 (2) (3) 
-^te, 25 (I), 104 (4) 

2 c 
-ete, 25 (i), 104 (4) 

2 a 
-eter, 188 
-etre, 25 (i), 104 (4) 

2 a, 186 
-ette, 25 (2) 
-eu, 64 (i) 
-euble, 65, 186 
-eue, 64 (i) 
-euf, 65 
-eugle, 65 
-euil, 66, 78, 112 
-euille, 66, 76, 112 



-eul, -eule, 65 

-eumatique, 64 (3) n. 

-€une, 65 

-eur, 66 

-cure, 62, 66 

-eurer, -eurrcr, 104 {4) 

-eus, 64 (2) 
-euse, 64 (2) 
-eut, 64 (i) 
-eute, 64 (2) 
-cutique, 64 (3) n. 
-eutre, 64 (2), 186 
-cuve, 66 
-euvre, 65, 186 
-eux, 64 i) 
-6ve, 25 (i) 
-ex, 25 (2), 159 
-exe, 25 {2) 
-exte, 25 {2) 
-ey, 25 (5) 
-eye, 25 (5) 
-ez, 25 (2), 133 
-eze, 25 (i) 

-f, 125 

-fle, -fre, 186 

-g, 160, 163 
-ger, 123 
-gle, -gre, 186 
-gue, 62, 69 
-gueil, 67 n. 

-i, 15 
-ibe, 16 
-ible, 16, 186 
-ibre, 16, 186 
-ic, -ice, -iche, 16 
-icle, 16, 186 
-ict, 16, 151 (4) 
-icte, 16 
-ide, 16 
-idre, 16, 186 
-ie, 16, 69, 104 (2) 
-ien, 99 
-lent, 69 
-ier, 123 . 
-if, -ife, 16 
-ilie, -if re, i6, 186 
-ige, 16 

-igne, 16 

-igre, 16, 186 

-igue, 16 

-il, 16, 115 (I) 

-ile, 16 

-ille, 16, 76, 112 

-iltre, 16, 186 

-im, 16, 86 (4), 97 

-imbre, 97, 186 

-ime, 16 

-imes, 16, 104 (4) 2 a 

-impe, 97 

-in, 86 (4), 97, ^01 

-ince, 97 

-incre, 97, 186 

-inct, 97, 151 (4) 

-inde, 97 

-indre, 97, 186 

-ine, 16 

-inge, 97 

-ingle, -ingre, 97 

-ingue, 97 

-inmes, 97 

-inrent, 97 

-ins, 129 (3) n. 

-insse, 97 

-inte, 97 

-intra, 97, 186 

-inx, 97, 159 

-ipe, 16 

-iple, 1 6, 186 

-ipse, 16 

-ique, 16 

-ir, -ire, 16 

-is, 16, 104 (4) 2 b, 130 

-ise, 16 

-iser, 104 (4) 3 n. 
-is me, 16, 224 (2) 
-isque, 16 
-isse, 16 
-ist, -iste, 16 
-istre, 16, 186 
-it, 16, 151 (2) 
-ite, 16 

-ites, 16, 104 (4) 2 a 
-itre, 16, 186 
-ive, 16 
-ivre, 16, 186 
-ix, 16, 159 
-ixe, 1 6 
-ixte, 16 

-k, 156 

■1, 115 

-las, 41 (2) n. 
-lier, 189 (2) 
-It, 151 (3) 

-m, 140 
-man, 86 (4) n. 

-n, 140 

-nas, 41 (2) n. 

-nier, 189 (2) 

-o, 47 (I) 

-ob, -obe, 50 (i) 

-oble, obre, 50 (i), 

-oc, -oche, 50 (i) 
-ocle, -ocre, 50 (i), 

-ode, 50 (I) 
-oe, 21 
-oele, 41 (12) 
-oeur, 66 
-oeuvre, 66, 186 
-ofe, 50 (I) 

-ofie, -of re, 50 (i), 186 
-og, oge, 50 (i) 
-ogne, 50 (i) 
-ogre, 50 (I), 186 
-ogue, 50 (I) 
-oi, 38 (4) ^ 
-oient, 38 (6), 41 (7). 69 
-oiffe, 38 (4) 
-oigne, 143 
-oil, 112 «. 
-oile, 38 (4) 
-oin, 72 (4), 97 
-oindre, 97, 186 
-oine, 38 (4) 
-ointe, 97 
-oir, -oire, 38 (4) 
-ois, 38 (4) 
-oise, 41 (8) n. 
-oit, -oite, 38 (4) 
-oitre, 38 (4), 186 
-oive, 38 (4) 
-ol, -ole, 50 (i) 
-ole, 47 (2) 


-olte, 50 (i) 
-olve, 50 (i) 
-om, 50 (I), 86 (4), 

-ombe, 93 
-omble, -ombre, 93, 

-ome, 50 (i), 47 (5) 
-ome, 47 (2) 
-omme, 47 (5) 
-ompe, 93 
-ompre, 93, 186 
-on, 86 (4), 95, 50 

-one, 93, 156 
-onee, -onche, 93 
-onde, 93 
-ondre, 93, 186 
-one, 50 (I), 47 (5) 
-onfle, 93, 186 
-onge, 93 
-ongle, 93. 186 
-onne, 47 (5) 
-onque, 93 
-ont, -onte, 93 
-ontre, 93, i86 
-onze, 93 
-op, -ope, 50 (i) 
-ople, -opre, 50 (i), 186 
-oque, 50 (I) 
-or, -ore, 50 (i) 
-orbe, 50 (i) 
-orche, 50 (i) 
-orde, 50 (i) 
-ordre, 50 (i), 186 
-orge, 50 (i) 
-orgne, 50 (i) 
-orgue, 50 (I) 
-orme, -ome, 50 (i) 
-orque, 50 (i) 
-orse, -orte, 50 (i) 
-OS, 50 (I), 104 (4) 2 b, 

129 (2) 
-ose, 47 (4) 
-oser, -osif, 47 (4) 
-osion, osite, 47 (4) 
-osition, 47 (4) 
-osse, 50 (I), 47 (6) 
-oste, 50 (i) 
-ot, 47 (I) 
-ote, 50 (i) 
-ote, 47 (2) 

-otion, 47 (3)1 

-otre, 47 (2), 186 

-ou, 56 

-ouble, -oucle, 56, 186 

-ouche, 56 

-oude, 56 

-oudre, 56, 186 

-oue, 56 

-ouffe, 56 

-oufle, -oufre, 56, 186 

-ouge, 56 

-ougre, 56, 186 

-ouil, 56, 78, 112 

-ouille, 56, 76, 112 

-ouin, 97 

-ould, 56, 115 (3) 

-oule, 56 

-oult, 56, 115 (3) 

-oupe, 56 

-ouple, 56, 186 

-our, 56 

-ourbe, -ourde, 56 

-ourse, -ourte, 56 

-ous, 56, 104 (4) 2 b 

-ouse, 56 

-ouser, 104 (4) 3 n. 

-ousse, 56 

-ouste, -oute, 56 

-outre, 56, 186 

-ouve, 56 

-ouvre, 56, 186 

-oux, 56 

-ouze, 56 

-ove, 50 (i) 

-ove, 47 (2) 

-ovre, 50 (i), 186 

-oxe, 50 (i) 

-oy, 38 (5) 

-oz, 56, 133 

-P, 147 
-pie, pre, 186 
-pt, 151 (4) 

-q, 156 

-r, 123 

-racle, 41 (10) 
-ras, 41 (2) w. 
-rer, 104 (4) 3 n. 
-Tie, i«6 

-roi, 41 (5) 
-roie, 41 (7) 
-roy, 41 (6) 
-rs, 129 (3) n. 

-s, 129, 209 (4) n. 
-sme, 224 {2) 
-St, 151 (3) 

-t, 151 
-th, 148 
-tas, 41 (2) n. 
-tie, 150 (5) 
-tie, 150 (4) 
-tier, -ti^re, 150 (4) 
-tidme, 150 (4) 
-tions, -tiez, 150 (5) 
-tre, 186 

-u, 61 

-ube, 61 

-uble, -ubre, 61, 186 

-uc, 61 

-uce, -uche, 61 

-ucre, 61, 186 

-ud, -ude, 61 

-ue, 61, 69, 104 (2) 

-ue, 62 

-ueil, 66, 78, 67 n. 

-ueille, 66, 76, 67 n. 

-ufle, 61, 186 

-uge, 61 

-ugle, 61, 186 

-ugne, 61 

-ul, -ule, 61 

-ulte, 61 

-um, 50 (4), 86 (4), 95, 

-umble, 100 
-ume, 61 
-un, 95, 100, loi 
-une, 61 
-unte, 100 
-upe, 61 
-uple, 61, 186 
-uque, 61 
-urent, 61 
-urge, 61 
-ume, 61 
-urque, 61 



-ur, -ure, 6i 
-us, 6i, 104 (4) 

129 (2) 
-use, 61 
-usque, 61 
-usse, 61 
-uste, 61 
-ustre, 61, 186 

2 b, 

-ut, 61, 151 (3) 
-ute, 61 
-uve, 61 
-ux, 61, 159 
-uz, 61, 133 

-vre, 186 
-X, 130, 159 

-yen, 99 
-yer, 123 
-ym, yn, 97 
-ypte, 16 
-yrte, 16 
-yx, 16, 159 

-z, 133 



Note. — ^The numbers refer to the sections, m. = footnote. 

Where a word is not given here, students are recommended to look 
in the index of word-endings. 

ab-, 224 (i) 
abbaye, 21 
abc6s, 221 
abime, 16 
abreuve, 68 
abreuver, 63 
Achille, 114 
Adam, 86 (4) n. 
adroite, 104 {3) 
afflux, 159 
Afghan, 223 
aigu-, 161 
aigue, 62 
aiguille, 161 
aiguiser, 161 
Aix, 159 

Aix-les -Bains, 130 
Aix-la-Chapelle, 130 
Alfred, 154 
almanach, 136 (2) 
Als-, 224 (4) 
ambesas, 129 (i) 
ambiguite, 161 
amict, 151 (4) 
Amiens, 129 (3) n. 
anecdote, 221 
Anne, 41 (12) 
anspect, 151 (4) 
antienne, 150 (6) 
aout, 57 
appendice, 99 
aprds, 209 (i) 
aquarelle, 157 
aquarium, 157 
aquatique, 157 
arc-boutant, 156 

arc-doubleau, 156 
archi-, 136 
as, I, 129 (i) 
aspect, 151 (4), 209 

(4) w. 
assieds, 21 
asthme, 152 
Auch, 50 (3), 136 
au-dessus, 223 
augmenter, 50 (3) 
aulnaie, 115 (2) 
aulne, 115 (2) 
aulx, 115 (2) 
aumone, 47 (2), 50 (3) 
aumonier, 50 (3) 
automne, 86 (3) 
autrui, 80 n. 
Auxerre, 50 {3), 130 
Auxois, 50 (3), 130 
Auxonne, 50 (3), 130 
avant-hier, 74 
av^nement, 30 (2) n. 

babil, 115 (i) 
babord, 41 (i) 
bacille, 114 
Bagdad, 154 
balandras, 129 (2) 
bals-, 224 (4) 
banc, 156 
bapt^me, 146 
baptismal, 146 n. 
Bavarois, 38 (4) 
bayadere, 25 (5) n. 
Bayard, 25 {5) n. 
bayer, 25 {5) n. 

Bayeux, 25 (5) n. 
Bayonne, 25 (5) n. 
Beatrix, 130 
beaucoup, 205 
bec-d'dne, 156 
Belsunce, 99, 224 (4) 
benzine, 99 
Berlioz, 133 
beta, 38 (I) 
beugle, beugler, 68 
bienfaisance, 70 (4) 
bienfaisant, 70 (4) 
billevesee, 114 
billion, 114 
bis, 129 (i) 
Biscaye, 25 (5) n. 
blanc, 156 
blason, 41 (8) 
boa, 50 (2) 
bobo, 51 (2) 
boeuf, 68, 125 
boeuf-gras, 125 
boeufs, 68, 125 
bois, 41 (5) 
boite, 41 (5) 
boueux, 72 n. 
Bourg, 163 M. 
bourg, 163 
bourgmestre, 163 « 
bras, 38 (i) 
Brest, 151 (i) 
broc, 156 
bruit, 80 n. 
brut, 151 (i) 
Bruxelles, 130 
bruyamment, 81 



bruyant, 81 
bruy^re, 81 
buffleterie, 33 
but, 151 (i) 
Buxy, 130 

C-, 156 

Caen, 69, 91 
Calvados, 50 (i) 
calville, 114 
caoutchouc, 156 
capillaire, 114 
Cavaignac, 143 
Cayenne, 25 (5) n. 
ce, 185 
celui, 116 
cens, 129 (i) 
centiare, 150 (6) 
cent, 170 
cep, 147 
ce que, 185 
cerf dix-cors, 125 
cerf- volant, 125 
cerfs, 125 

ch-, 136 (I) (3), 156 
Champaigne, 143 
chaos, 129 (2) 
chauve-souris, 223 
chef-d'oeuvre, 125 
cheptel, 146 
Cherbourg, 163 
chevecier, 33 
chocolat, 41 (12) 
chouette, 38 (7) 
Christ, 151 (2) 
chut, 62, 151 (i) 
Cid, 154 
cigue, 62 
cinq, 168 

Cinq-Mars, 129 (i) 
cipaye, 25 (5) n. 
circonspect, 151 (4) 
clame, 41 (12) 
Claretie, 150 (6) 
clavecin, 223 
clef, 21, 125 
clerc, 156 
climat, 41 (12) 
club, 147 
CO-, 50 (2) 
cobaye, 25 (5) n. 
COCO, 51 (2) 

codicille, 114 
combinaison, 31 (i) 
compte, 146 
construire, 80 n. 
corinthien, 150 (6) 
corps, 146 
Cortez, 133 
cotignac, 156 
couenne, 38 (7) 
couctte, 38 (7) 
couler, 56, 104 (4) c 
crabe, 41 (12) 
Craon, 91 
Craonne, 91 
cr6neler, 30 (2) 
cresson, 70 (5) 
eric, 156 
croc, 156 
croup, 147 
crucifix, 159 
Crusoe, 21 
cul, 115 (2) 
Cyrille, 114 

daim, 86 (4) n. 
dam, 86 (4) n. 
damas, 129 (2) 
Damiens, 129 (3) n. 
damne, 41 (12), 86 (4) 
Daphnis, 16 
David, 154 
d6jeuner, 64 (3), 123 
de le, 181 
d6mener, 30 (2) 
de ne, 181 
depuis, 209 (i) 
des-, 31 (2), 70 (5), 128 
d6s-, 132 
Des-, 128 
desu6tude, 131 w. 
d6truire, 80 n. 
deut^ronome, 64 (3) n. 
deux, 170 
diapason, 41 (8) 
diner, 123 
dis-, 224 (i) 
distiller, 114 
district, 151 (4) 
dix, 130, 168 
dix-huit, 170 
dodo, 51 (2) 
doigt, 162 

doigtcr, 162 
dom, 86 (4) n. 
dompter, 146 
done, 156 
dosse, 47 (6) 
dot, 151 (i) 
droite, 104 (3) 
duo, 80 n. 
Duplcix, 159 

eaux, I 
dchec, 156 
Echelon, 30 (2) 
6chevel6, 188 
6crouler, 56, 104 (4) c 
eczdma, 223 

eff-, 31 (3) 
dlever, 30 (2) 
em-, 86 (2) 
6meraude, 30 (2) 
empoigner, 143 
en-, 86 (2) 
encens, 129 (i) n. 
encoignure, 143 
ensevelir, 188 
6phod, 154 
6pizootie, 150 (6) 
6quateur, 157 
dquestre, 157 
Equitation, 157 
es-, 31 (2) 
6s, 129 (i) 
esclave, 41 (12) 
escroc, 156 
espace, 41 (12) 
essaim, 86 (4) n. 
est, 151 (i) 
estomac, 156 
et, 211 (6) 
6taim, 86 (4) n. 
6tioler, 150 (6) 
6troite, 104 {3) 
eu, 62 
eu-, 64 (4) 
Eugene, 64 (4) 
Eug6nie, 64 (4) 
eiimes, 62 
eurent, 62 
Europe, 64 (4) 
eus, 62 
cut, 62 
eiites, 62 


evenement, 30 (2) n, 
ex-, 31 (3), 158 
exact, 151 (4) 
examen, 86 (4) n., 99 
exempt, 146 
exemption, 146 n. 

fa, 38 (I) 
faim, 86 (4) n. 
fais, 21 

faisable, 70 (4) 
faisant, 70 (4) 
faiseur, 70 (4) 
faisons, 70 (4) 
fait, 151 (i) 
faon, 91 
faonner, 91 
farouche, 136 
fat, 151 (I) 
faubourg, 163 
fayard, 25 (5) n. 
femme, 38 (3) 
Feroe, 21 
Jeudiste, 64 (3) n. 
fez, 133 

fils, I, 115 (2), 129 (i) 
fimes, 16 
fites, 16 
flamme, 41 (12) 
flanc, 156 
fieur-de-lis, 129 (i) 
flux, 159 
Foch, 136 {2) 
foi, 41 (5) 
fort, 211 
fosse, 47 (6) 
fossette, 51 (i) n. 
fossile, 51 (i) n. 
fossoyer, 51 (i) n. 
fossoyeur, 51 (i) n. 
fouet, 38 (7) 
franc, 156 
froide, 104 (3) 
froisse, 104 (3) 
fruit, 80 n. 

gageure, 62, 138 
gagne, 41 (12) 
gai, 21 

galimatias, 150 (6) 
garantie, 150 (6) 
gars, 41 (12), 123 

gaz, 133 
geai, 21 
Genevois, 33 
gens, 129 (i) 
gentilhomme, 112 
gibeci^re, 223 
Gille, 114 
gingas, 129 (2) 
girouette, 38 (7) 
gite, 16 
gn-, 144 
goeland, 38 (7) 
goelette, 38 (7) 
goemon, 38 (7) 
gogo, 51 (2) 
gong, 163 
Goths, 151 (3) n. 
gouter, 123 
granit, 151 (3) 
gratis, 16 
gresil, 112, 115 (i) 

gril, 115 (i) 
grog, 163 
grosse, 47 (6) 
group, 147 
gruyere, 81 
gu-, 161 

Guadeloupe, 161 
guano, 161 
Guise, 161 
Guyane, 161 
Guyon, 161 

h-, 165 
hanap, 147 
handicap, 147 
hareng, 163 
haut-de-chausses, 223 
helas, 129 (i) 
hennir, 38 (2) 
heros, 167 
Herschel, 134 
hiatus, 74 
hier, 74 
hier-, 74 
Hongrois, 38 (4) 
hosanna, 47 (4) 
houp, 147 
huit, 168 
hyene, 74 
Hypatie, 150 (6) 
ichneumon, 64 (3) n. 

11, 116 

ill-, 114, 172 (4) 
ils, 116 
imm-, 172 (4) 
immangeable, 86 (2) 
immanquable, 86 (2) 
impromptu, 146 n. 
inn-, 172 (4) 
instinct, 151 (4) 
instruire, 80 n. 
indemnity, 38 (2) 
indomp table, 146 n. 
instiller, 114 
iris, 16 
irr-, 172 {4) 
isthme, 152 

jaconas, 129 (2) 
Jacques, 41 (12) 
jadis, 129 (i) 
jalap, 147 
Jamaique, 16 
Jean, 91 
Jeanne, 41 (12) 
je le, 180 
je me, 180 
je ne, 180 
Jesus, 129 (3) n. 
J6sus Christ, 151 (2) 
jeter, 223 
jeudi, 64 (3) 
jeun {k), 100 
jeune, 64 (3) 
jonc, 156 

jouions, jouiez, 72 «. 
jouet, 38 (7) 
joug, 163 
julep, 147 
jungle, 95 
junte, 95 

k-, 155 

la, 38 (I) 
lacs, I, 156 
la-dessus, 223 
lampas, 129 {2) 
Laonnais, 91 
laps, 129 (i) 
larynx, 159 
lasting, 163 
Lausanne, 47 {7) 



Law, 130 

le, 189 (4) 
Leclerc, 156 
legs, 162 
les-, 128 
lichen, 136 (3) 
Liebig, 163 
Lille, 114 
lilliputien, 114 
linceul, 78 
lingual, 161 
linguiste, 161 
lis, 129 (I) 
lolo, 51 (2) 
long, 205 
Longwy, 162 
loquace, 157 
losange, 47 (4) 
lumbago, 95 
lut, luth, 151 (I) 
Lycaon, 91 

Mabille, 114 
Machiavel, 136 (3) 
mais, 209 (i) 
maison, 31 (i) 
mademoiselle, 154 n. 
malfaisant, 70 (4) 
malfaisance, 70 (4) 
mangeure, 62, 138 
raanne, 41 (12) 
marc, 156 
Marc, 156 
marqueterie, 33 
Mars, 129 (i) 
mat, 151 (i) 
mat, 151 (i) 
matras, 129 (2) 
Mauclerc, 156 
mauvais, 50 (3) 
mayonnaise, 25 (5) n. 
maxillaire, 114 
medecin, 221 
menthol, 99 
mes-, 31 (2), 128 
mes-, 131 
m6tis, 129 (i) 
Metz, 129 (3) n. 
meule, 64 (3) 
Meung, 100 
meunier, 64 (3) 
Michel- Ange, 136 (3) 

mil, 112, 115 (i) 
mill-, 114 
mille, 114 
Millet, 114 
miroir, 38 (4) 
moelle, 38 (7) 
moelleux, 38 (7) 
moellon, 38 (7) 
moeurs, 129 (i) 
moignon, 143 
mois, 41 (5) 
momie, 47 (8) 
monsieur, 64 (i), 70 

(i), 123, 224 (3) 
Mont-, 152 
Montaigne, 143 
mosaique, 47 (4) 
mouette, 38 (7) 
mousqueterie, 33 
myosotis, 47 (4) 
myrtille, 114 

naif, 16 
nenni, 38 (2) 
nerf, 125 

nerf-de-boeuf, 125 
net, 151 (i) 
neuf, 168, 205 
Neufchateau, 125 
Neufchatel, 125 
neume, 64 (3) 
Nimes, 16 
Noel, 25 (i) 
noix, 41 (5) 
nom, 86 (4) n. 
non, 247 
nord-est, 211 
nord-ouest, 211 
noueux, 72 n. 
Nyons, 129 (3) n. 

oasis, 50 (2) 
ob-, 224 (i) 
obus, 47 (8) 
odeur, 47 (8) 
odieux, 47 (8) 
oe-, 21 
ceil, 112 

oeuf, oeufs, 68, 125 
oignon, 143 
oisivete, 223 
orchestra, 136 (3) 

orchis, 136 (3) 
oreiller, 123 
ortie, 150 (6) 
ortier, 150 (6) 
OS, 129 (i) 
osciller, 114 
Osiris, 16 
ouate, 211 (5) 
ouest, 151 (i) 
oui, 211 (5), 247 
ours, 129 (i) 

paon, 91 
paonneau, 91 
paonner, 91 
Parfaict, 151 (4) 
parfum, 86 (4) w. 
parisis, 129 (i) 
paroisse, 104 (3) 
parler, 123 
parqueterie, 33 
partie, 150 (6) 
pat, 151 (I) 
pataques,24(i), 129(1) 
Paul, 50 (3) 
Paule, 50 (3) 
pays, 21, 77 
pentateuque, 64 (3), 

pente-, 99 
pentecote, 99 
perdrix, 159 
peu, 68 

peut-dtre, 70 (2) 
Pharaon, 91 
philosophe, 47 (4) 
pluie, 80 n. 
plus, 129 (I) 
poids, 41 (5) 
poignant, 143 
poignard, 143 
poigne, poign6e, 143 
pois, 41 (5) 
Poitiers, 150 (4) 
poix, 41 (5) 
pore, 156 
post-dater, 152 
post-scriptum, 152 
ponding, 163 
poulailler, 123 
pouls, 115 (2) 
pre-, 131 


preposition, 47 (4) 
pres-, 31 (2) 
presanctifier, 131 n. 
pres6ance, 131 m, 
prfeupposer, 131 «. 
po61e, 41 (12) 
prix, 159 
prompt, 146 
pros-, 47 (4) 
pseudonyme, 64 (3) 
punch, 136 
pupille, 114 
pusillanime, 114 
Pythie, 150 (6) 

qu-, 157 

quad-, 157 
quadrille, 157 w. 
quai, 21 
quaker, 157 
quand, 209 (i) 
quartz, 133, 157 
quasimodo, 157 
quatre, 209 (5) 
que je, 181 
que le, 181 
quelque, 116 
questure, 157 
qui6tisme, 157 
Quintilien, 157 
quintuple, 157 
quorum, 157 

raccroc, 156 
rail, 41 {4) 
raisin, raison, 31 (i) 
rang, 205, 209 (4) n. 
re-, 184 
re-, 131 
redevenir, 188 
reflux, 159 
reine-claude, 164 
rejeton, 223 
rem-, 86 (2) 
repartie, 150 (6) 
reps, 129 (i) 
requiem, 157 
res-, 31 (2), 70 (5) 
resection, 132 w, 
r6s6quer, 132 n. 
respect, 151 (4), 209 

ressemeler, 188 
Retz, 129 (3) n. 
rez-de-chauss6e, 223 
rhumatisme, 224 (2) 
Richelieu, 189 
rien, 189 
rit, 151 (I) 
rob, 147 
rococo, 51 (2) 
Rodez, 133 
roide, 104 (3) 
romps, rompt, 146 
rotie, 150 (6) 
rouennerie, 38 (7) 
rouet, 38 (7) 
rouler, 56, 104 (4) c 
rumb, 147 
ruolz, 133 

Saens, 69 
sais, 21 

Saint-Brieuc, 156 
Saint-Ouen, 99 
Saint-Marc, 156 
salep, 147 

sang, 205, 209 (4) n. 
sangsue, 162 
Saone, 41 (2) 
saoul, 56, 115 (2) 
Sarmatie, 150 (6) 
sassafras, 129 (2) 
sauf, 50 (3) 
sauvetage, 223 
savetier, 221 
SC-, 130 
sceptique, 130 
scille, 114 
scintnier, 114 
scottisch, 134 
sculpter, 146 
scythe, 16 
se, 185 

second, 164, 222 
Seidlitz, 133 
selon, 209 (i) 
senefon, 33 
sens, 129 (i) 
sept, 146, 168 
serfs, 125 
signet, 162 
Sillery, 114 
Sinai, 16 

Sind, 154 
six, 130, 168 
six-huit, 170 n. 
sm-, 224 (2) 
Soissons, 129 (3) n. 
soit, 151 (i) 
soixante, 130 
solennel, 38 (3) 
solennit6, 38 (3) 
sortie, 150 (6) 
sotie, 150 (6) 
soucoupe, 70 (3) 
souhaite, 38 {7) 
soul, 56, 115 (2) 
souper, 123 
sphinx, 159 
square, 157 
Stael, 69 
Strasbourg, 221 
sub-, 224 (i) 
subsister, 224 (i) 
sud, 154 
Suez, 133 
sur, 121 
sus, 129 (i) 
susdit, 223 
suspect, 151 (4) 
sympathie, 150 (6) 

tabac, 156 
talmud, 154 
te le, 181 
temps, I, 146 
tenir, 99 
terroir, 38 (4) 
t6tras, 129 (2) 
teuton, 64 (3) n. 
th-, 148 
thym, 86 (4) n. 
ti-, 150 (I) 
tiers-6tat, 211 
tiroir, 38 (4) 
titiller, 114 
toit, 41 (5) 
tournevis, 129 (i) 
tous, 56, 104 (4) c, 

129 (i) 
tranquille, 114 
trans-, 131, 224 (i) 
transept, 131 «. 
trans vaser, 221 
Transylvanie, 131 «. 



trois, 170 
tronc, 156 
trop, 47 (i), 205 
Troyes, 38 (5) 
truie, truite, 80 n. 
tu, 60 n. 
tuyau, 81 
tuyere, 81 

ubiquit6, 157 
uhlan, 211 (5) 
un, 170 n., 211 (4) 
us, 206 
ut, 151 (i) 

vaciller, 114 
vainc, 156 

vais, 21 

vaudeville, 114 
venir, 99 
vergeure, 62, 138 
verticille, 114 ' 
veule, 104 (4) c 
vill-, 114 
ville, 114 
vingt, 162, 169 
vis, 129 (i) 
voix, 41 (5) 
volontiers, 123, 150 (4) 

W-, 73 (5), 126 
wagon, 126 
wallon, 72 (5) 
wh-, 72 (5) 

whig, 163 

X-, 158 n. 
Xer^s, 158 
Ximen^, 158 

y-, 74 

yacht, 151 (3), 211 (5) 
yankee, 211 (5) 
yatagan, 211 (5) 
yeuse, 74 ^ 
yod, 154 

zend, 154 
zig-zag, 163 
zinc, 156, 65 
zut, 151 (I) 


Note. — The figures refer to the sections. 

Phonetic symbols are enclosed in square brackets. 
Prefixes will be found in List of Words. 
«. = footnote. 

a, close, 34- ; open, 39- ; close 
and open, 34, 35, 42 ; un- 
stressed, 37, 43 ; final, 
38 (i) ; in derivatives, 43 (i) ; 
before mute consonant, 
38 (i) ; in closed termina- 
tions, 38 (i) ; in non-final 
syllables, 38 (i) ; before s, 
41 {2) (3) ; before z-sound, 
41 (8), 43 (3) ; before final 
r, 41 (11) ; before medial 
r, 43 (4) ; middle or inter- 
mediate, 43 (4) 

[a], how pronounced, 4, 8, 34, 35 ; 
in ordinary spelling, 38 ; 
duration, 37, 104 {4) 

[a], how pronounced, 4, 8, 34, 
35, 39 ; long and short, 40 ; 
in ordinary spelling, 41 ; be- 
coming [a], 43 (2) ; duration, 

104 (3) 

[a] how pronounced, 4, 91 ; in 
ordinary spelling, 91 ; dis- 
tinguished from 5, 94 

^, 37, 38 (2) 

^, 37, 38 (2), 40, 41 

accent, tonic, 16 n., 193- ; le in, 
104 (i) ; influence on length 
of vowel, 104 (3) (4) ; in 
isolated words, 194 ; in stress- 
groups, 196 ; in elevated 
speech, 203 ; preceded by 
emphatic accent, 219 

accent, emphatic, 214, 241 

ae, 36, 96 

ai, 21 (3), 24, 25 (4), 31 (I), 70 (4) 

ai, 24, 25 (I) 

aie, 24, 25 (6) 


American English, 87 (3), 226 

apris, in liaison, 209 n. 

alphabet, phonetic, 3 

aon, 91 

aspect, in liaison, 209 (4) n. 

aspirate, h, list of words, 167 ; no 

elision before, 189 (3) 
assimilation, vocalic, 29, 51 (2), 

68 ; consonantal, 106, 221 
au, 44 ; unstressed, 47 (7), before 

r, 50 (3) 
ay, 24, 25 (5) 
aye, 24 

b, final, 147 

[b], how pronounced, 145 ; changed 
to m, 88 (2) ; lengthening 
consonant, 104 (4) 

Bibliography, 240 

bi-labial consonants, 107 

breath, how to take, 234 

breath-groups, 199 

c, final, no, 156; for [s], 130; 

for [k], 156 
9, 130 
caduc, e, 69 
ch, sounded [J], 134 ; sounded [k], 

circumflex, influence on length, 

classical words, 86 (4), 104 (4) 2 (b), 

129 (2) 
clearness in vowel sounds, 13 
compound words, 132 
conditionals and futures, e mute 



consonants, defined, 7, 105 ; 
lengthening, 104 (4) ; voiced, 
106 ; unvoiced, 106 ; division 
of, 107 ; final, no, 170 n., 
204 ; mute following r in 
liaison, 211 (i) ; phonetic, 
3 ; nasal, 107 ; double, 171- ; 
Law of Three, 176, excep- 
tions to, 178 

consonantal group, followed by 
e mute, 186 

continues, 179 (i) 

cuir, 208 n. 

d, how pronounced, 153 ; final, 

154 ; in liaison, 205 
[d], lengthening consonant, 104 

(4) ; changed into n, 88 (2) ; 

doubled, 172 (4) 
dates, 168 

dental consonants, 107 
depuis, in liaison, 209 n. 
derivatives, how pronounced, 27, 

41 (3), 43 (I), 51 (i) 
diphthongs, 12 
disaccentuation, 202 
division of syllables, 5 ; in verse, 

75, 86 n. 
double consonants, 171 
downward part of sentences, 232 
duration of sounds, 103- 

e, close or open, 4, 8, 17 ; in 

closed syllables, 25 (2) ; 
before a double consonant, 
25 (2) ; sounded [a], 37, 
38 (3) ; unstressed, 27- ; 
becoming mute, 33 ; middle, 
28- ; in derivatives, 27 

e mute, 17, 31 (2) n. ; becoming 
W. 33 I becoming [oe], 70 ; 
when not pronounced, 69 ; 
in ordinary spelling, 69 ; in 
initial syllables, 179 ; in fixed 
groups, 180 ; before re-, 184 ; 
after s-sound, 185; final, 
after consonantal group, 186 ; 
cases where never elided, 
189 ; in verse, 191 ; inserted 
wrongly, 192 

[e], how pronounced, 4, 8, 18, 19 ; 
duration, 104 (i) ; short 

usually, 18, 20; tense, 19; 
in ordinary spelling, 21 ; sub- 
stituted for e mute, 70 

[e], how pronounced, 4, 8, 22, 
23 ; followed by r, 24 n. ; 
duration, 24, 104 (4) ; in 
ordinary spelling, 25 ; final, 

[g], how pronounced, 4, 96 ; in 
ordinary spelling, 97 

[a], how pronounced, 4, 69 ; 
duration, 104 (i) ; final, 
after vowel, 104 (2) ; elision 

of, 175 

[0], how pronounced, 4, 63 ; long 
and short, 64 ; in ordinary 
spelling, 64 ; duration, 104 (3) 

e, unstressed, followed by r, 30 
(i) ; before a consonant 
followed by silent e mute, 
30 (2) ; when representing 
h in stem, 30 (3) ; when initial, 
30 (3) 

^, 24, 25 (I) 

e, 24, 25 (i) 

e, 25 (i), 62 n. 
eau, 47 (7) 

ei, 24, 25 (I) ; eie, 25 (6) 
elision, 175 ; in pronoun le, 70 n. ; 
none before numerals, 170, 

189 (3) 
emotional words, emphasis in, 


emphasis, [e] and [9] in, 104 (i) 
emphatic accent, see accent 
enumeration, emphasis in, 220 
equilibrium in speech, 250- 
-er, in liaison, 209 (4) 
es, 31 (2) 

et, no liaison with, 211 (6) 
eu, close, 63- 
eu, open, 65- 
Eurhythmy, 248- 
exclamations, 241- 
explosives, 107, 145 
expressions, 245- 
ey, 24, 25 (5) 

f, final, no, 125 ; in liaison, 205 
[f], how pronounced, 124 

final vowels, 104 (2) ; followed by 
e mute, 104 (2) 


final consonants, no, 170 n., 204 

fixed groups, 180, 185 

fixed words, 188 

foreign words, 86 (4), 99 (3), 147, 

151 (3), I54> 156, 157, 160, 

161, 163 
fort, in liaison, 211 (i) 
fricatives, 107, 124- 
fundamental vowel-sounds, 4 
futures and conditionals, e mute in, 

188, 189 

g, medial, 162, 164 ; final, 163, 

164 ; in liaison, 205 
[g], 3; how pronounced, 160; 

lengthening consonant, 104 

ge, before a, o, u, 138 
glottal consonant (h), 107, 165 
gn [ji], 141 
gn [gn], 145 

gradation, emphasis in, 220 
grasseyer, 119 
Greek and Latin words, 86 (3), 

99 (3), 104 (4) 2 (b), 129 (2), 

Greek w, 50 (i) n. 
group, final consonantal, followed 

by e mute, 186 
group, stress, 16, 104 (4) 3 ; in 

elevated speech, 203 ; liaison 

in, 207 
group, breath, 199 
gu-, 161 

h, 165- ; aspirate, list of words, 
167 ; no elision before, 189 (3) ; 
no liaison before, 211 (3) 

half-long sounds, 40 n. ; 104 (3) 

hard consonants, 106 

harmony in speech, 250- 

high tone, 246 (i) 

homonyms, i, 41 (5), 92, 98 

humming, 88 (i) 

i, at end of small unstressed words, 

[i] how pronounced, 4, 8, 15 ; 

duration, 16, 104 (4) 
[i] (open), 15 

[J], 3, 7, 73 ; initial, 74 ; medial, 
75 ; final, 78 ; sometimes 
inserted, 77 ; lengthening 
consonant, 104 (4) 

-ign-, 143 

-il, how pronounced, 78, 112, 
114 (I) 

-ill, how pronounced, 76, 112, 113, 

indeterminate vowel sound, 4, 69- 

inflection, 237- 

initial syllable, e mute in, 179 

intermediate e, 28 

intermediate o, 51 (3) 

intermediate a, 43 (4) 

interrogations, 235 

intonation, 227 

J, 137 

[k], how pronounced, 3, 155 

1, disappearance of, 186 (3) ; 
final, no, 115; often 
dropped in il, Us, etc., 116 

[1], how pronounced, in ; voiced, 
106; doubled, 172 (4) ; often 
doubled after a pronoun, 1 1 6 w. 

1-mouille, 107, 113 

labio-dental consonants, 107 

laterals, 107 

Latin words, 86 (4), 129 (2), 15 
(2), 104 (4) 2 (b), 157, 167, 

172 (4) 
Latin accent, 194 
Law of Three Consonants, 176; 

exceptions to, 178 
le, under stress, 104 (i) 
lengthening consonants, 104 (4) 
liaison, 204- ; o in, 50 n. ; in 

nasal vowels, loi ; none 

before numerals, 170 ; after 

numerals, 170 
lip-rounding, 4, 9 (3), 45, 55, 59, 

63, 69 
low tone, 246 (3) 

m, sounded falsely, 90 ; followed 
by vowel, 86 (i) ; final, 
sounded, 86 (4) 

[m], 7 ; voiced, 106 ; doubled, 
172 (4) ; initial, 224;^ (3) 


mm, 86 (2) 

mn, 86 (3) 

mats, in liaison, 209 (i) n. 

middle tone, 246 (2) 

middle e, 28 ; a, 43 (4) ; o, 51 (3) 

mixed vowel-sounds, 4, 58, 69 

tnomeniandes, 179 (i) 

mouth, in vowel sounds, 9 (2) 

n, followed by vowel, 86 (i) ; final, 
sounded, 86 (4) 

n-mouille, 141. 

[n], sounded falsely, before d or t, 
90 (1) ; before p or b, 90 (2) ; 
before c or g, 90 (3) 

[n], doubled, 172 (4) ; voiced, 106 

[p], 3 J how pronounced, 141 

nasal consonants, 107, 139- ; 
table of, 142 

nasal vowels, table of, 4 ; how 
pronounced, 83, 87 ; in 
ordinary spelling, 84 ; dura- 
tion, 85 ; liaison in, loi 

naturally long vowels, 40, 47, 64 

-ng, English, 87, 89, 141 

nn, 86 (2) 

non-accentuation, 200 

numerals, 168- ; no liaison or 
elision before, 170, 189 (3), 
209 (5), 211 (4) 

o, close, 44- ; open, 48 ; close and 
open, 44 ; final, 47 (i) ; 
before [z], 47 (4), 49 n. ; 
in closed syllables, 50 (i) ; 
in open non-final syllables, 
50 (2) ; in derivatives, 51 (i) ; 
middle, 51 (3) ; unstressed, 

M, 51 (3) 

6, 44, 47 (2) 

[o], how pronounced, 4, 8, 44, 45 ; 
long and short, 47 ; in 
ordinary spelling, 47 ; in 
liaison, 50 n. ; duration, 

104 (3) 

[5], how pronounced, 4, 93 ; dis- 
tinguished from [a], 94 ; in 
ordinary spelling, 95 

[o], how pronounced, 4, 8, 44, 48 ; 
duration, 49, 104 {4) ; in 


ordinary spelling, 50 ; un- 
stressed, 49 
[0], how pronounced, 4, 63 ; long 
and short ; in ordinary 
spelling, 64 
oa, 44 

oe, Greek, 41 (4) ; French, 66 
[ce], how pronounced, 4, 65 ; in 
ordinary spelling, 66, 67 ; un- 
stressed, 66 ; duration, 66, 
104 (4) 
[oe], how pronounced, 4, 100 
06, how pronounced, 38 (7) 
06, how pronounced, 40, 72 (3) 
oe, how pronounced, 38 (7), 72 

oeu, 66 
oi, 37 ; how pronounced, 38 (4), 

72 (2) ; after r, 38 (4), 40 
ol, 37 ; how pronounced, 38 (4), 

40, 72 (2) ; after r, 41 (7) 
oie, 37 ; how pronounced, 38 (6), 

41 (7), 72 (2) ; after r, 41 (7) 
onze, in liaison, 211 (4) n. 
00, 50 (5) 
open vowels, 9 (2) 
opposition, emphasis in, 220 
orthography, French, i 
ou, 53 ; followed by vowel, 72 (i) 
ou, 53 
oue, 37 ; how pronounced, 38 

oui, no liaison before, 211 (5) 
ouaie, in liaison, 211 (5) 
oy, 37 ; how pronounced, 38 (5), 

72 (2) ; after r, 41 (6) 
w, Greek, 50 (i) n. 

p, medial, 146 ; final, 147 ; in 

liaison, 205 
[p], how pronounced, 145; doubled, 

173 (4) 
palate, 87 

palatal consonants, 107 
palatal r, 118, 120 w. 
Parisian r, 119, 120 w. 
pataques, 208 n. 
parentheses, 233 
ph, 124 

pharynx, 87 (2) 

phonetic system, i- ; alphabet, 
phrases in liaison, 209 (6) 



plural s in liaison, 211 (i) ; in 

compound nouns, 211 (2) 
prefix re-, 184 
prepalatal consonants, 107 
pretonic syllables, 104 (4) 3 
poetry, see verse 

q, for [k], 156 

qu, 157 

quandy in liaison, 209 (i) n. 

quantity, 103- 

quatre, in liaison, 209 (5) n. 

r, disappearance of, 186 (3) ; final, 
no, 123 ; followed by mute 
consonant, in liaison, 211 (i) 

r-grasseye, 119 

[r], how pronounced, 117, 118 ; 
voiced, 106 ; lengthening 
consonant, 104 (4) ; doubled, 
172 (4) 

[r], how pronounced, 119, 120 n. 

rang, in liaison, 209 (4) n. 

respect, in liaison, 209 (4) n. 

rhythm, 248 ; discordant, 252 

rhythmic accent, see accent 

roi, roi, 41 (5) 

roie, 41 (7) 

root-words, 104 (4) 3 

rounding of lips, 4, 9 (3), 45, 55, 
59, 63, 69 

roy, 41 (6) 

[-rwa-], 104 (3) 

s, before b or m, 224 (2) ; after 1, 
224 (4) ; final mute, in 
liaison, 209 (4) n. 

[s], 3 ; how pronounced, 127 ; 
final, 128 ; final, sounded, 
129 ; final, in liaison, 205 ; 
medial, 128 ; between two 
vowels, 132 ; before another 
consonant, 128 (3) ; followed 
by e mute, 185 ; plural, in 
liaison, 211 (i) (2) ; doubled, 

172 (4) 
[J], 3 ; how pronounced, 134, 135 
sang, in liaison, 209 (4) n. 
sc, 130 
Scotch sounds, 4, 23, 34, 36, 39, 


semi-consonants, 3, 71 ; [w], 72 ; 

[j], 73; M, 80 

seven-vowel rule, 16, 24, 37, 49, 

56, 61, 66, 104 (4) 
slack vowels, 11 
soft consonants, 106 
sound-shading, 245 
sounds, duration of, 103- 
spelling, ordinary, i 
stem, 104 (4) 3 
stress, influence on length of 

vowel, 104 (3), 104 (4) ; le 

under, 104 (i) ; difference of 

in derivatives, 43 (2) 
stress, emphatic, [e] and [9] in, 

104 (i), 214- ; see under 

stress-group, 16, 104 (4) 3, 196 ; 

liaison in, 207 ; in elevated 

speech, 203 
stress-groups, in eurhythmy, 248 
syllables, division of, 5, in verse, 

75, 86 n. ; open 5, 104 (4) 3 ; 

closed, 5, pronunciation in, 

104 (4) 3 ; pretonic, 104 (4) 

3 ; e mute in initial, 1 79 

t, medial, 152 ; final, 151 

[t], how pronounced, 60, 148, 149; 
English, 149; doubled, 172 

tenir, -ien in, 99 
tenseness in vowel-sounds, 11, 19, 

35, 46 
th, 148, 152 
ti-, before vowel, 150 
tone, high or low, 246 
tongue, in vowel sounds, 11, 19, 

. 35, 46 
tonic words, 236 
tonic accent, see accent 
toujours, in liaison, 211 (i) 
tout, in liaison, 209 n. 
triangle of vowels, 10, 58, 102 
trills, 107 

u, 62, 80 n. 

[u], how pronounced, 4, 8, 53, 

54 ; duration, 56, 104 (4) ; 

unstressed, 56 
[u] (open), 53 
ue, 66 



uhlan, no liaison before, 211 (5) 
un (the numeral) in liaison, 211 

unfamiliar words, 86 (4) 
uniformity in vowel sounds, 12 
unstressed syllables, 16 n. 
unstressed vowels, 104 (3), 104 

(4) 3 
unvoiced consonants, 106 
upward part of sentences, 231 
uvula, 87 

uvular consonants, 107 
uvular [r], 119, 120 

[v], lengthening consonant, 104 
(4) ; how pronounced, 126 

velar consonants, 107 

velours, 208 n. 

velum, 87 

venir, -ien in, 99 

verse, rhythm in, 254 ; [j] and 
[i] in, 75 ; licence in rhymes, 
104 (a) n. ', e mute in, 191 ; 
liaison in, 212 

vocalic assimilation, 29, 51 (2), 68 

voiced consonants, 106 

vowel, indeterminate, 69- 

vowel-sounds, French, 4 

vowels, defined, 7 ; fundamental, 
7- ; front, 9 (i), 10 ; back, 
9 (i), 10 ; close, 9 (2) ; open, 
9 (2) ; tense and slack, 11 ; 
clearness of, in French, 13 ; 
the naturally long, 40, 47, 
64, 104 (3) ; half-long, 40 ; 
mixed, 4, 58 ; triangle of, 
10, 58, 102 ; when final, 

104 (2) ; circumflexed, 104 
(4) 2 (a) 
vowels, nasal, how pronounced, 
83, 87 ; in ordinary spelling, 
84 ; duration, 85 

w, in English words, 72 {5) ; in 

German and Flemish words, 

[w], 3, 7, 72 
words, tonic, 236 ; compound, 

132 ; in combination, 174 ; 

fixed, 1 88 

X, for [s], 130; for [k], 156; for 
[ks], 158; final, 159; in 
liaison, 205 ; initial, 158 n. 

y, between two vowels, 77, 81; 

initial, in liaison, 211 (5) 
y (the pronoun), 79 
[y], how pronounced, 4, 58, 59 ; 

after [r], [s], and [t], 60 ; 

unstressed, 60 ; duration, 61, 

104 (4) ; in ordinary spelling, 

M> 3> 7 ' how pronounced, 80 
yod, 73- 

[z], 3 ; lengthening consonant, 
104 (4) ; how pronounced, 
131 ; final, 133 

[3], 3 ; lengthening consonant, 
104 {4) ; how pronounced, 

zh, 137, 160 



{As revised for this Manual by M. Paul Passy, D.-is-L., Paris) 

(Works are here placed in alphabetical order. Those marked 
with an asterisk (*) employ the alphabet of the International 
Phonetic Association.") 


♦Althaus (L. H.) : The Means of Training in Phonetics available 
for Modern Language Teachers. L' Association Phonetique 

♦Beyer (F.) : Franzosische Phonetik. Schulze, Cothen. 

BouRCiEZ (E.) : Precis historique de phonetique frangaise. 1907, 

Ellis (A.) : A Plea for Phonetic Spelling. 1848. 

FELINE : Methode pour apprendre d lire. 1854. 

♦Jespersen (O.) : Lehrbuch der Phonetik. Teubner, Leipzig, 
„ Phonetische Grundfragen. Teubner, Leipzig, 


♦Jones (D.) : Examination Papers in Phonetics. Clarendon 
Press, Oxford, 191 9. 

♦Klinghardt (H.) : Franzosische IntonationsUbungen. Schulze, 

♦Nicholson (G. G.) : Introduction to French Phonetics. Mac- 
millan, London. 

♦Noel-Armfield (G.) : General Phonetics. Heffer, Cambridge, 

* Works out of print may be consulted in libraries, or may sometimes 
be obtained second-hand. 

2 For works published by the International Phonetic Association, 
application may be made to the English Secretary, Mr D. Jones, 
University College, London, W.C.i. 



♦Palmer (H. E.) : What is Phonetics ? L' Association Phon6- 
tique Internationale, 1915. 

♦Partington (V.) : The Transition from Phonetic to Ordinary 
Spelling. L' Association Phonetique Internationale. 

»^Passy (P.) : Petite Phonetique comparee des principales langues 

europ^ennes. Teubner, Leipzig, 191 2. 
•^ ,, La Phonetique appliqtcee d I'enseignement de la 

lecture. L' Association Phonetique Interna- 
tionale, 191 6. 
„ Le Phondtisme au congrh de Stockholm. 1887. 

,, L' Instruction primaire aux ^tats-Unis. 1885. 

♦Perret (W.) : Some Questions of Phonetic Theory. Heffer, 

Cambridge, 1917- 
♦RippMANN (W.) : Elements of Phonetics, English, French, and 
German, translated and adapted from Victor's " Kleine 
Phonetik." Dent, London, 1899. 

RoussELOT (P.) : Principes de phonetique experimental . 
Welter, Paris, 1902. 

♦ScHOLLE and Smith : Elementary Phonetics. Blackie, London, 
Scripture (E.) : Elements of Experimental Phonetics. Arnold, 
London, 1904 ; Scribner, New York. 

♦SoAMES (L.) : Introduction to Phonetics. Sonnenschein, London, 

Sweet (H.) : Primer of Phonetics. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 

♦ViETOR (W.) : Elemente der Phonetik. Reisland, Leipzig, 1904. 
* ,, Kleine Phonetik. Reisland, Leipzig, 1903. 

*L' Association Phonetique Internationale : L'^criture 
phonetique Internationale, and various other pamphlets. 

♦Baker (A.) : Historical French Grammar. Dent, London, 1900. 

\JDomergue (U.) : La Prononciation frangaise ddterminee par des 
signes invaridbles. Paris, 1797. 

x^^UMViLLE (B.) : Elements of French Pronunciation and Diction. 
Dent, London, 1904. 

Dupuis (Mme) : Traite de prononciation ou nouvelle prosodie 
frangaise. 1836. 


' DjtrpoNT- Vernon : Principes de diction. 
V „ L'Art de Men dire 

^ tions. 1888. 


principes et applica- 

xii^ sidcle. 1845. 


Genin (F.) : Variations depuis 

GoEMANS (L.) et Gri^goire (A.) : Petit Traite de prononciation 
frangaise. E. Champion, Paris, 1919 ; Benard, Liege. 

Grace (S. W.) : Primer of French Pronunciation. Methuen, 
London, 1920. 

Grammont (M.) : Traite pratique de prononciation frangaise. 
Delagrave, Paris, 1914. 

Martinon (Ph.) : Comment on prononce le frangais. Larousse, 
Paris, 1913. 

Nyrop (K.) : Grammaire historique de la langue frangaise. 
Copenhagen, 1904. 

* „ Manuel phonetique du frangais parU. Traduit et 

remanie par E. Philipot. Picard et Fils, Paris, 
/ 1 91 4 ; G. E. Stetchert, New York. 

/ Paris (G.) : J^tudes sur la role de V accent latin. 1862. 

*Passy(P.) : Les Sons du frangais. Firmin-Didot, Paris, 1906; 
Didier, Paris, 191 2. 

* ,, The Sounds of the French Language. A Transla- 

tion of the above, by D. L. Savory and 
Daniel Jones. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 
2nd Edition, 191 3. 

* ,, Abrege de prononciation frangaise {phonetique et 

orthoepie). Reisland, Leipzig, 191 3. 

* ,, Changements phonetique s. Paris, 189 1. 

♦Quiehl (K.) : Franzosische Aussprache. Elwert, Marburg, 1899. 

♦Richards (S. A.) : French Speech and Spelling, a First Guide 
to French Pronunciation. Dent, London, 1907. 

Rosset : Les Origines de la prononciation moderne. 191 1. 

RouDET (L.) : La Desaccentuation et le deplacement de Vaccent 
dans le frangais moderne. Dans la Revue de philologie 
frangaise, 1907. 

RoussELOT (P.) et Laclotte (F.) 


*Saillens (£.) and Holme (E. R. 

Pronunciation. Blackie, London, 1909. 

Premiers elements de pro- 
nonciation frangaise. H. 
Welter, Paris. 

Precis de prononciation 
frangaise. H. Welter, 
Paris, 1902. 

First Principles of French 


Scripture (E.) : Speech Curves. Carnegie Institution, Washing- 
ton, 1906. 
^.-'^HURQT (F. C.) : La Prononciation frangaise depuis le commence- 
ment du xvi« sidcle. Imprimerie Nationale, 1881. 

Lesaint (M. a.) : Traiti complet de la prononciation frangaise. 
Revu et compl^t^ par Chr. Vogel, 1890. 


♦Jones (D.) : Cent podsies enfantines. Teubner, Leipzig. 

* „ Intonation Curves. Teubner, Leipzig. 

KoscHWiTZ (E.) : Les Parlers parisiens. Anthologie phond- 
tique. Revue par Franz, 191 1. 

*Noel-Armfield (G.) et Brandin (L. M.) : Un peu de rire. 
Heflfer, Cambridge. 

♦Partington (V.) : French Songs and Speech. Marshall, London. 
♦Passy (P.) : Premier livre de lecture. Firmin-Didot, Paris, 1884; 
Didier, Paris, 191 7. 

* „ Deuxidme livre de lecture. Idem. 
Versions populaires du Nouveau Testament. Paris, 

Soci6t6 des Trait6s, 1893-96. 

Histoires pour enfants. Idem. 

Le frangais parU. Reisland, Leipzig, 1914. 

Choix de lectures. Schulze, Cothen, 1905. 

Lectures varices. Soci6t6 des Trait^s, Paris, 1910. 

A French Phonetic Reader. University of London 
Press, 1914. 

Lectures frangaises phondtiques. Heffer, Cam- 
bridge, 1918. 

Conversations frangaises. University of London 
Press, 1920. 

♦Passy (J.) et Rambaud (A.) : Chrestomathie frangaise. Leipzig, 


ICHARDS (S. A.) : French Phonetic Reader. Dent, London, 1912. 

♦RossET (Th.) : Exercices pratiques de prononciation et de diction. 

♦Savory (D. L.) : Premiere annee de frangais. Black, London. 
 „ French Oral Teaching. Rivingtons, London. 

♦Spiers (V.) : Senior French Reciter. Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 
London, 1909. 

V ♦Thudichum (G.) : Manuel de diction. Kiindig, Geneva. 


*Le MAfTRE PHON]feTiQUE, bi-monthly Journal of the Inter- 
national Phonetic Association. 


Hatzfeld et Darmesteter : Diciionnaire general de la langue 
jrangaise. Delagrave, Paris. 

♦MiCHAELis et Passy : Dictionnaire phonetique frangais. Meyer, 
Hanover, 1897. 

♦Pierce (R. M.) : International French and English Dictionary, 
Jack, London, 1904. 

♦Rangel and Nielsen : Fransk-Dansk Ordbog. Bojesen, 
Copenhagen, 1903. 

♦Baker (E. A.) : French and English Dictionary. Cassell, 
London and New York, 1920. 

♦Pfohl (E.) : Neues Wdrterbuch der franzdsischen und deutschen 
Sprache. Brockhaus, Leipzig. 

♦Edgren-Burnett : French and English Word-book. Heine- 
mann, London, 1902. 

5. PHONETIC CHARTS (Paper or Linen) 

♦Jones (D.) : Les Sons du frangais. Cambridge. 
 „ The Organs of Speech. Cambridge. 

♦Jones (D.) and Rausch (F.) : A Set of Sound Charts (9), 
showing Tongue and Lip Positions. Dent, London. 

♦RippMAN (W.) : Les Sons du frangais. Three Charts, size 
30x30 inches. Small reproductions in packets of 30. 
Dent, London. 

♦Scholle and Smith: Coloured Wall- Charts of French Sounds. 

Blackie, London. 
♦ViETOR (W.) : Tableau des sons frangais. Elwert, Marburg. 

Printed in Great Britain by Turttbull &fi Spears^ Edinburgh 

PC Jack, Jaiaes William 
2137 Manuel of French 

J3 pronunciation and diction 
cop, 2 






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