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4. The Alphabet. The letters of the alphabet, with their French names, are as follows :a [a]. jji (3i).

esse [es]. b bé [be]. k ka [ka].

t té (te).
cé [se].

elle [el].

u [y] d dé [de].

m emme [em]. V vé (ve]. e é [e].

enne [en]. w double vé [dubl ve]. f effe [ef].

o [o].

x iks [iks). g gé (3e). P pé (pe].

у grec [i grek] hache [as]. q ku [ky].

z zède [zed]. i i [i].

erre [er]. NOTE.—Words are commonly spelled by naming their letters, as above, together with the other orthographic signs, if any.

5. Other Orthographic Signs. In addition to the letters of the alphabet, the following signs are used :

1. The acute accent', Fr. 'accent aigu' [aksāt egy), e.g., l'été, TÉcosse.

2. The grave accent », Fr. 'accent grave' [aksã gra:v], e.g., voilà, père, où.

3. The circumflex accent^, Fr. 'accent circonflexe' [aksã sirköfleks), e.g., âne, tête, ile, hôte, flûte. Observe: None of the above accent marks serve to denote stress (8 7).

4. The cedilla, Fr. 'cédille' [sedi:j], used under c to give it the sound of [s], before a, o, u (§ 17, 13), e.g., façade, leçon, commençait, commençons, reçûmes, reçu.

5. The diæresis ", Fr. “tréma' [trema), shows that the vowel bearing it is divided in pronunciation from the preceding vowel, e.g., Noël, naïf.

6. The apostrophe, Fr. 'apostrophe' [apostrof], shows omission of final vowel before initial vowel sound, e.g., l'amie ( = la amie), l'ami (=le ami), l'homme (=le homme), s'il (=si il), § 19.

7. The hyphen, Fr. 'trait d'union’[tre d ynjɔ], used as in English. 6. Syllabication.

1. A single consonant sound between vowel sounds always belongs to the following syllable.

Ex.: Ma-rie, in-di-vi-si-bi-li-té, a-che-ter.

2. Two consonants, of which the second is 1 or r (but not the combinations rl or Ir), similarly both belong to the following syllable.

Ex.: ta-bleau, é-cri-vain.

3. Other combinations of consonants representing two or more sounds are divided.

Ex.: par-ler, per-dre, es-ca-lier.

N.B.—Great care should be taken to avoid the consonantal ending of syllables, so frequent in English. Compare French .ci-té,' ta-bleau,' with English cit-y,''tab-leau.

7. Stress.

Stress' is the force with which a syllable is uttered as compared with other syllables in the same group. In French, the syllables are uttered with almost equal force, a very slight stress falling on the last syllable of a word of two or more syllables, or, on the last but one, if the last vowel of the word is [ə].

Ex.: Che-val, par-ler, par-lai, per-dre, cré-di-bi-li-té (compare the strong stress of English cred-i-bil-it-y).

NOTE. - In connected discourse the rule above stated varies considerably, but a full treatment of the subject would exceed the limits of an elementary work. The safest practice for the beginner is to pronounce all syllables with almost equal force. It should be remembered that accent.marks have nothing to do with stress, and that all vowels, except (ə), see § 19, whether stressed or unstressed, have their full value, never being slurred over as in English.

8. Vowel Quantity. The most important general rules


1. Final vowel sounds (including nasals) are regularly short, e.g., fini [fini), vie (vi), loue [lu), parlé (parle), rideau (rido), mais [mɛ], donner [done], enfant [ãfã], parlerons (parlərð).

2. Stressed vowels are long before the sounds [v], [z], [3], [j], [r final], e.g., rive (ri:v], ruse [ry:z], rouge [ru:3], feuille [fæ:j], faire [fe:r].

3. Of stressed vowels standing before other consonant sounds, nasals are long, e.g., prince (prł:s); [o], [ø], long, e.g., faute [fo:t), meule [mø:l]; [a], long (almost always), e.g., passe [pa:s]; [ɛ], long or short, e.g., reine (rɛ:n), renne [ren]; other vowels regularly short, e.g., cap [kap), poche (pɔs], koupe [kup), pipe (pip], seul [sæl], lune [lyn).

NOTE. - It is possible to distinguish also between long' and 'half long' vowels, but it has been thought best to omit, in an elementary work, the rules relating to this distinction, and to indicate ‘long' vowels only in the transcriptions.


9. Tongue Position. The relative position of the tongue for the various vowels may be seen from the following diagram, adapted from Vietor. Rounded vowels are enclosed in parentheses







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greatest N.B.-In the following descriptions of sounds, the word 'like'- means, of course, only “resembling,' or 'approximately like' (S1). The examples given after the word “also’ show the less common orthographical equivalents. 10.

i, y. 1. i-Like ea in 'seat'; the corners of the mouth retracted as in smiling (§ 1, 4); avoid the sound of i in sit’; avoid diphthongization ($ 1, 6); narrow (§ 1, 3).

Ex.: ni (ni), vive (vi:v]; also, île [i:1], lyre [li:r).

2. y–Has no counterpart in English. The tongue position is practically the same as for [i] above; very tense lip-rounding (§ 1, 4); avoid diphthongization (§ 1, 6); narrow (1, 3). The sound may be best acquired either by prolonging [i], and at the same time effecting the rounding, or by holding the lips rounded and taking the tongue position of [i].

Ex.: pu (py), muse (my:z]; also fût (fy), il eut [il y), nous eûmes [nuz ym]. II.

e, ø, ə. 1. e-Like the first part of the sound of a in 'day,' but with the lips more retracted (§ 1, 4); avoid diphthongization ($ 1,6); narrow (81, 3).

Ex.: été [ete); also, parler (parle), donnai (done].

2. Ø-Has no counterpart in English. The tongue position is practically the same as for [e], with tense rounding of the lips ($ 1, 4); avoid diphthongization ($ 1,6); narrow (§ 1, 3); best acquired by combining, as explained for [y] above, the lip-rounding with the [e] position.

Ex.: creux [krø), creuse [krø:z]; also, bæufs [bo].

3. a–Like English e in the man,' or a in ‘Louisa,' but slightly rounded; best acquired by relaxing the tension of the organs required for the production of the [ø] sound.

Ex.: le [lə]; also, monsieur (məsjø), faisant [fəzõ].


ε ε, ο, . 1. ε-Like the sound of e in ‘let,' with the mouth more definitely open and the lips more retracted (§ 1, 4); avoid diphthongization (§ 1, 6); narrow (1, 3).

Ex.: près (pre), père (pe:r]; also, fête [f€:t), terre [te:r), secret [sǝkre], parlais (parlɛ], paix (pɛ], reine (re:n).

NOTE.—The e of a stressed syllable followed by a syllable containing e mute has almost always this sound (orthographically denoted by è, ê, or e + double consonant), e.g., je mène [men), tête [tɛ:t], chère [seır), j'appelle [apel], ancienne [ãsjen). This principle accounts for the apparent irregularities of certain verbs and adjectives.

2. Ē—The [ɛ] sound nasalized (§ 1, 7), but slightly more open.

Ex.: fin [f?], prince (pré:s]; also, faim [fł], sainte [sĩ:t), Reims [rť:s), plein (plē], simple [sť: pl], symbole [sẽbol], syntaxe [sētaks), viendrai [vjędre), soin [swź].

3. ce—Has no counterpart in English. It has practically the tongue position of [ɛ], combined with definite rounding of the lips ; avoid diphthongization (§ 1, 6); narrow (§ 1, 3); best acquired by combining, with the [ɛ] position, the rounding described.

Ex.: neuf (næf], neuve (næ:v]; also, caur [kæ:r], wil [cj], orgueil [orge:j].

4. &- The [ce] sound nasalized (§ 1, 7), but slightly more open.
Ex.: un [@], humble [đe: bl] ; also, à jeun (a 3de).

1. a—Only very slightly resembles the sound of a in 'pat,' which is nearer that of [ɛ]. The [a] sound requires much wider mouth opening than a of'pat,' accompanied by retraction of the lips and lowering of

a, a, ã.

the tongue, though with the point still touching the lower teeth ; avoid diphthongization (§ 1, 4); narrow (§ 1, 3).

Ex.: patte (pat), part [pa:r]; also, là [la], femme [fam), moi (mwa], boîte [bwa:t], parlames (parlam], parlât [parla).

2. a–Like a in 'father'; the mouth well open, the tongue lying flat, and so far retracted that it no longer touches the lower teeth ; lips absolutely neutral, i.e., neither rounded nor retracted ; avoid especially rounding, as of a in ‘fall.'

Ex.: pas [pa), passe (pa:s] ; also, pâte [pa:t], roi [rwa], poêle [pwa:l].

3. õ—The [a] sound nasalized (§ 1, 7).

Ex.: tant [tã], tante [tã:t]; also, lampe (lã:p), entre [ã:tr), membre [mã:br]. 14.

0, õ, o. 1. 5—Like o in 'not,' but with definite bell-like rounding (§ 1, 4); avoid diphthongization (§ 1, 6); narrow (§ 1, 3).

Ex.: note (not], tort [to:r); also Paul (pol), album (albom).
2. õ— The [?] sound nasalized (§ 1, 7), but slightly more close.
Ex.: rond (r)], ronde [rõ:d); also tomber (tõbe), comte [kɔ:t].

3. o-Like o in 'omen, but with more protrusion and much tenser rounding of the lips (§ 1, 4); avoid diphthongization (§ 1, 6); narrow (§ 1, 3).

Ex.: sot [so), chose [so:z], fosse [fo:s]; also, côté [kote], côte [ko:t), faute [fo:t], beauté [bote).



1. u-Like u in 'rumour,' but with more protrusion and much tenser rounding of the lips (1, 4); avoid diphthongization (§ 1, 6); narrow (81, 3).

Ex.: tout [tu], tour stu:r]; also, goût [gu], août [u].



j, y, w. When the sounds [i], [y], [u], § 10 and g 15, come before a vowel of stronger stress, they are pronounced with the tongue slightly closer to the palate, and hence assume a consonantal value, indicated by [j], [4], [w], respectively. They are sometimes called semi-vowels.

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