French diphthongs?
Thread poster: Estelle Demontrond-Box

Estelle Demontrond-Box  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 02:29
English to French
+ ...
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


 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 18:29
English to Russian
+ ...
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?

 

IrimiConsulting  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 18:29
Member (2006)
English to Swedish
+ ...
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!


 

cranium
French to English
+ ...
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]


 

Estelle Demontrond-Box  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 02:29
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
for French phonetics Oct 12, 2011

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

Thank you!


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:29
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"


 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:29
French to English
+ ...
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]


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:29
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!
icon_smile.gif


 

Estelle Demontrond-Box  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 02:29
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
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.


 

Estelle Demontrond-Box  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 02:29
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
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).


 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:29
French to English
+ ...
/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").


 

Estelle Demontrond-Box  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 02:29
English to French
+ ...
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.icon_wink.gif


 


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French diphthongs?

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