French diphthongs?
Thread poster: Estelle Demontrond-Box

Estelle Demontrond-Box  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 20:57
Member (2005)
English to French
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Oct 12, 2011

Dear all,

I am currently doing some work for a publisher and they have provided me with a pronunciation table for French ponetics/sounds listing "diphthongs" amongst the semi-vowels, consonants, vowels, etc.

My question is: is there such a thing as a "diphthong" in French. My understanding was that there were no diphthongs in modern French.

Any thoughts?

Thank you,

E


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
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Fewer than in English, but there are some Oct 12, 2011

Why would you consider the sounds in e.g. 'roi' or 'pluie' not to be diphthongs?

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IrimiConsulting  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 10:57
Member (2006)
English to Swedish
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Diphthong = two adjacent vowels Oct 12, 2011

A diphthong is nothing more than two adjacent vowels. I can't think of a language that has no diphthongs (which is not the same as saying they don't exist...)

Some Swedish dialects even contain triphthongs!


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cranium
French to English
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Depends on regional variation Oct 12, 2011

Agree with Anton. Also, Canadian French contains diphthongs that the continental accents do not. Check out the regional pronunciation of "Beauce", for example.

[Edited at 2011-10-12 12:13 GMT]


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Estelle Demontrond-Box  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 20:57
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English to French
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for French phonetics Oct 12, 2011

This post regards the French language and more specifically modern French.
And phonetics (API).

Thank you!


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:57
Hebrew to English
French diphthongs... Oct 12, 2011

I barely speak a word of French, but this is what Wikipedia had to say about French diphthongs:

FrenchIn French, /wa/, /wɛ̃/, and /ɥi/ may be considered true diphthongs (that is, fully contained in the syllable nucleus: [u̯a], [u̯ɛ̃], [y̯i]). Other sequences are considered part of a glide formation process that turns a high vowel into a semivowel (and part of the syllable onset) when followed by another vowel.[13]

Diphthongs

/wa/ [u̯a] as in roi "king"
/wɛ̃/ [u̯ɛ̃] as in groin "muzzle"
/ɥi/ [y̯i] as in huit "eight"
Semivowels

/wi/ as in oui "yes"
/jɛ̃/ as in lien "bond"
/jɛ/ as in Ariège
/aj/ as in travail "work"
/ɛj/ as in Marseille
/œj/ as in feuille "leaf"
/uj/ as in grenouille "frog"
/jø/ as in vieux "old"


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:57
French to English
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Yes, but it's a complex issue... Oct 12, 2011

Estelle Demontrond-Box wrote:
I am currently doing some work for a publisher and they have provided me with a pronunciation table for French ponetics/sounds listing "diphthongs" amongst the semi-vowels, consonants, vowels, etc.

My question is: is there such a thing as a "diphthong" in French. My understanding was that there were no diphthongs in modern French.


Assuming a definition of "diphthong" as something like "two vowel targets in a single syllable nucleus" (i.e. a fairly standard definition), then yes.

Most Romance languages have to some extent or other a tendency for a high vowel followed by a low vowel to diphthongise, i.e. for the two vowels to "merge" into a single syllable. And French-- at least in what is nowadays considered a "standard" French accent-- is heavily at the "diphthongise where possible" end of this scale. Thus, in a standard accent, e.g. "pied" is a single syllable, with the sequence [je] forming a diphthong as the single syllable nucleus.

Then, there are a few corner cases where diphongisation is apparently blocked, e.g. we can say that "loua" ~ "loi" are differentiated essentially on whether or not you diphthongise the two vowels.

It should also be said that listing "the diphthongs of French" or determining whether a glide is a "consonant" or a "vowel" isn't trivial and there isn't necessarily consensus on how to analyse all cases. For example, in a form such as "(nous) ceuillions" ("we were picking"), what you essentially have is a geminate [jj]; but which "[j]" you attribute to being a consonant or vowel of which slot in which syllable isn't a trivial matter.

So for example, the list quoted by Ty from Wikipedia certainly shouldn't be seen as some kind of "definitive" list: which of these and other sequences constitute "diphthongs" under what circumstances is a complex issue open to a lot of debate and analysis.

So the answer to "does French have diphthongs" is almost certainly "yes" according to a common definition of "diphthong". But beyond that, there be many dragons.

[Edited at 2011-10-12 13:55 GMT]


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:57
Hebrew to English
Gratitude... Oct 12, 2011

Thanks Neil, I was hoping someone more knowledgeable in French would come along!
Wikipedia is a poor substitute for actual knowledge!


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Estelle Demontrond-Box  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 20:57
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English to French
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Agreed Oct 12, 2011

SBlack wrote:

Agree with Anton. Also, Canadian French contains diphthongs that the continental accents do not. Check out the regional pronunciation of "Beauce", for example.

[Edited at 2011-10-12 12:13 GMT]


Yes, I would absolutely agree that Canadian French as well as many dialects etc do have diphtongs. I am really talking about standard French from France.


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Estelle Demontrond-Box  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 20:57
Member (2005)
English to French
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Websters's view Oct 12, 2011

See
http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definitions/Diphthong?cx=partner-pub-0939450753529744:v0qd01-tdlq&cof=FORID:9&ie=UTF-8&q=Diphthong&sa=Search#906

French
Some diphthongs in French:

/wa/ as in roi "king"
/wi/ as in oui "yes"
/ɥi/ as in huit "eight"
/jɛ̃/ as in bien "well (adv.)"
/jɛ/ as in Ariège
/aj/ as in travail "work"
/ej/ as in Marseille
/œj/ as in feuille "leaf"
/uj/ as in grenouille "frog"
/jø/ as in vieux "old"
All French diphthongs are typically analysed as a combination of a vowel and a semi-vowel (in either order).


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:57
French to English
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/j/ in coda position Oct 12, 2011

Estelle Demontrond-Box wrote:
/aj/ as in travail "work"
/ej/ as in Marseille
/œj/ as in feuille "leaf"
/uj/ as in grenouille "frog"


It's actually common in these cases to consider that the /j/ fills the coda position of the syllable (i.e. is a "consonant").


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Estelle Demontrond-Box  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 20:57
Member (2005)
English to French
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TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Oct 13, 2011

Neil Coffey wrote:

Estelle Demontrond-Box wrote:
/aj/ as in travail "work"
/ej/ as in Marseille
/œj/ as in feuille "leaf"
/uj/ as in grenouille "frog"


It's actually common in these cases to consider that the /j/ fills the coda position of the syllable (i.e. is a "consonant").


Thank you for your input.


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