* French

The standard French consonant system is considered to consist of 12 obstruents (six plosives and six fricatives) and 8 sonorants (three nasals, two liquids, and three semivowel glides). The obstruents can be classified in voiced and voiceless pairs, with strong periodicity (voicing) normally occurring in the phonemically voiced members.

The plosives are p b t d k g:

        Symbol          Word                    Transcription

        p               pont                    po~

        b               bon                     bo~

        t               temps                   ta~

        d               dans                    da~

        k               quand                   ka~

        g               gant                    ga~
The voiceless plosives (/p t k/) are unaspirated except in stressed syllables preceding close vowels, where the extreme position of the tongue delays voice onset and produces turbulence.
There are six fricatives, f v s z S Z; there is also j, which may be considered a fricative or a glide:
        f               femme                   fam

        v               vent                    va~

        s               sans                    sa~

        z               zone                    zon

        S               champ                   Sa~

        Z               gens                    Za~

        j               ion                     jo~
There are three nasals, m n J, found in words considered to be genuinely French. A fourth nasal, N, is only found in loanwords, except in Southern French dialects, where it ocurs in some contexts after nasal vowels:
        m               mont                    mo~

        n               nom                     no~

        J               oignon                  oJo~

        N               camping                 ka~piN
There are two liquids, l R, and three vowel glides, w H and j. The vowel glides may be realised as fricative following voiceless obstruents.
        l               long                    lo~

        R               rond                    Ro~

        w               coin                    kwe~

        H               juin                    ZHe~

        j               pierre                  pjER
The vowel system comprises 12 oral vowels, i e E a A O o u y 2 9 @, and 4 nasal vowels, e~ a~ o~ 9~, exemplified as follows:
        i               si                      si

        e               ses                     se

        E               seize                   sEz

        a               patte                   pat

        A               p?te                    pAt

        O               comme                   kOm

        o               gros                    gRo

        u               doux                    du

        y               du                      dy

        2               deux                    d2

        9               neuf                    n9f

        @               justement               Zyst@ma~

        e~              vin                     ve~

        a~              vent                    va~

        o~              bon                     bo~

        9~              brun                    bR9~
When they are functional, the load of the oppositions a-A, e~-9~, e-E, o-O, 2-9 may be very low for certain speakers, and there is a tendency towards neutralisation. When they are not functional there is a strong tendency in unstressed syllables towards indetermination. "Indeterminacy" symbols have been agreed to cover occurrences of these phonemes or sounds:
        E/      = e or E

        A/      = a or A

        &/      = 2 or 9

        O/      = o or O

        U~/     = e~ or 9~
There are contextually determined vowel length differences, nasal vowels being long before following consonants, and all vowels being long before R and voiced fricatives.

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Maintained by J.C. Wells. Created 1995 09 19. Corrected 1996 03 18

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