Appendix:French pronunciation

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The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents French pronunciations in Wikipedia and Wiktionary articles. It is important to note that the IPA symbols used for vowels are conventionally used in French dictionaries, but are based on the pronunciation of Parisian French from more than 100 years ago and no longer accurately represent current pronunciation for Parisian French. See the footnotes for more details.

English approximations are in some cases very approximate, and only intended to give a general idea of the pronunciation. See French phonology for a more thorough look at the sounds. In particular, English vowels are often diphthongs, while the French vowels are not.

French has no word-level stress, so stress marks are not used in transcribing French words. See here for explanation.

  IPA   Examples English approximation
b beau beau
d doux do
f fête; pharmacie festival
ɡ gain; guerre gain
k cabas; archque; aquarelle; kelvin sky
l loup[1] loop
m mou; femme moo
n nous; bonne no
ɲ agneaux[2] roughly like canyon; Portuguese nh
p passé spy
ʁ roue; rhume[3] voiced counterpart of loch (Scottish English) or voiceless before and after voiceless consonants ; Portuguese rr
s sa; hausse; ce; garçon; option; scie sir
ʃ chou; schème; shampooing shoe
t tout; thé sty
v vous; wagon view
z hasard; zéro zeal
ʒ joue; geai measure
Non-native consonants
ŋ camping[4] camping
x jota; khamsin[5] loch (Scottish English)
j fief; payer; fille; travail yes
w oui; loi; moyen; web we
ɥ huit between yet and wet
  IPA   Actual
Examples English approximation
a a patte roughly like pat
ɑ pâte; glas[6] roughly like pat (or like bra in conservative accents and Quebec French)
e clé; les; chez; aller; pied pay
ɛ ɛ mère; est; abdomen; faite best
ɛː fête; mtre; reine; scène; caisse; rtre[7] says
i si; île; y bee
ə ø le; reposer[8] again (often elided)
ø ceux; jne roughly like bird (British English)
œ sœur; jeune bird (British English)
o sot; hôtel; haut; bureau roughly like law (British English) or note (American English)
ɔ sort; minimum similar to not (British English) or caught (American English)[9]
u coup too
y tu; sûr roughly like too in Australian English
ɑ̃ ɒ̃ sans; champ; vent; temps; Jean; taon[10] roughly like want (British English) or haunt (American English)
ɛ̃ æ̃ vin; impair; pain; daim; plein; Reims; bien[11] roughly like pant
œ̃ un; parfum[12] roughly like pant (or, in conservative accents or Quebec French, roughly like burnt but without pronouncing the r).
ɔ̃ õ son; nom[13] roughly like don't (American English) or haunt (British English)
IPA Example Explanation
ˈ moyen /mwaˈjɛ̃/[14] phrasal stress
. pays /pe.i/[15] syllable boundary
les agneaux /lez‿aˈɲo/ liaison[16]

Notes edit

  1. ^ The French /l/ is clear, similar to the pronunciation in Spanish and German but unlike the dark /l/ of American English.
  2. ^ In Parisian French, /ɲ/ is often pronounced [nj].
  3. ^ The French rhotic varies from region to region, but is usually uvular. The more common pronunciations include a voiced uvular fricative [ʁ], a uvular trill [ʀ], and [χ] (after voiceless consonants).
  4. ^ In Parisian French, /ŋ/ is often pronounced [ŋɡ].
  5. ^ /x/ may be replaced by /ʁ/.
  6. ^ In Parisian French, /ɑ/ is normally replaced by /a/.
  7. ^ In Parisian French, /ɛː/ is normally replaced by /ɛ/. In Quebec French, /ɛː/ is often pronounced [aɛ̯].
  8. ^ In French, /ə/ is pronounced with some lip rounding [ɵ̞]; for a number of speakers, it is also more front and may even be phonetically identical to the vowel of neuf [nœf]. In Parisian French, [ə] is rounded and fronted, making it phonetically similar to [ø].
  9. ^ In Parisian French at least, /ɔ/ is partly unrounded, leading it to have somewhat of the quality of nut.
  10. ^ In Parisian French, /ɑ̃/ is actually pronounced [ɒ̃], with rounding. In Quebec French, /ɑ̃/ is pronounced [ã].
  11. ^ In Parisian French, /ɛ̃/ is actually pronounced [æ̃]. In Quebec French, /ɛ̃/ is pronounced [ẽ].
  12. ^ In Parisian French, /œ̃/ is normally replaced by /ɛ̃/, pronounced [æ̃].
  13. ^ In Parisian French, /ɔ̃/ is actually pronounced [õ].
  14. ^ Stress falls on the last full syllable of a phrase, except in emphatic speech.
  15. ^ Used sparingly.
  16. ^ Latent final consonant is pronounced before a following vowel sound.