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SCHEME OF PRONUNCIATION The difficulties of pronunciation of French for an American arise mainly from the difference in the pronunciation of vowels. English vowels are usually not one sound, but two; French vowels are pure, consisting of one sound only. Remember not to drawl them as in English.
The pronunciation given should be read simply as in English, with the stress placed slightly at the end of each word or group of words. When the pronunciation is in capitals, stress the capitalized syllable. Since in some cases the pronunciation of a group of letters differs according to the English word in which it is found and since a few French sounds cannot be represented in English, the following rules should be remembered:
ah — a broad a, as in hard.
ay — as in say.
aw — as in saw.A
ee — as in bee.
eh — as the e in let.
ew — pucker your lips as if to kiss somebody and say ee; this sound is approximated in the English word dew.
g — always hard as the g in go.
zh — always soft as the s in pleasure.
oh — as in blow.
r — the French r is the sound made when one gargles.
s — always as in sister.
y — as in yes — never as in my.
The nasal sounds ahn, awn, en, uhn are indicated by a line over the phonetic spelling. If these syllables are uttered "through the nose," the result will be adequate. Try pronouncing these syllables a few times while holding your nose. Then imitate these sounds. Be sure not to pronounce the n.
Although there are some regional differences, if you follow the pronunciation in this book, you will be understood.
NOTE: In order to facilitate the revision of this book, the publishers have skipped numbers from time to time. These do not indicate omissions in the text of the present edition.
Excerpted from SAY IT IN FRENCH by LEON J. COHEN. Copyright © 1962 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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Posted February 2, 2013