Getting started with French 1
Getting started with French 1

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6 Focussing on pronunciation

You’ve just been noting how the word for nationality is different in the masculine and feminine forms. You listened to some people introducing themselves at the start of this week, too. You might like to return to that activity in Section 2 as part of your practice, because now you’re going to listen more carefully and hone your listening skills. You’re going to focus on how the different spelling influences the sound of the words you’ve been learning this week. How will careful listening help you to understand? If the word looks different in writing, how will it sound, when spoken?

By working carefully through these activities, you’ll discover answers to these questions. You’ll also learn some important tips about pronunciation which will help you when you speak French.

Pronunciation of final consonants

As a general rule, final consonants in French (except c, r, f, l) are silent (Paris is pronounced as ‘paree’). When followed by an -e, however, they become pronounced:

  • in the words allemand and français you don’t pronounce the final d or s;
  • but in the feminine forms allemande and française, the d and the s are pronounced (as [d] and [z] respectively).

Note that word-final -e itself is not pronounced.

Table 2 Pronunciation of final consonants
Final consonant not pronounced Final consonant pronounced
anglais anglaise
normand normande
grand grande
petit petite

Activity 6

Now try listening for some adjective endings yourself. Listen to the speaker and select the words that you hear.

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a. 

français


b. 

française


c. 

anglais


d. 

anglaise


e. 

canadien


f. 

canadienne


g. 

japonais


h. 

japonaise


i. 

allemand


j. 

allemande


k. 

gallois


l. 

galloise


The correct answers are a, c, f, g, j and l.

Activity 7

Now try some yourself. Listen to the pairs of nationalities and repeat them. Press ‘record’ and play back your recording then compare it with the original. Listen, record and listen again.

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