Learning French - Mastering Prounounciation of the French "EU"
French is hard language to pronounce and pronounce correctly. And listening to a native speaker of French is indispensable if you ever hope to master the more problematic sounds in French. Watch the Youtube video at the bottom of the page.
In another article, we talked about the front vowel [u] and the uvular [r] sound, so are you ready for another? Come on! this is supposed to be fun. Again, French, like many other European languages, has what are called front vowels by linguists. And unsurprisingly, they are called front vowels because of their place of articulation - the front of the mouth. Easy so far, right?
Like English, French orthography (spelling) is a mixed bag of tricks - what you think you are getting is not always what you get. An example is the word for "knot" or noeud in French. When you first hear this word it sounds very much as if in English you were saying "nuh." And in context, pronouncing it that way will likely get you understood, but it is not totally correct. Another example is the French word for "little" or "few" is peu.And again, when you first hear this word it sounds a lot to a native speaker of English like "puh." But this eu sound is actually the "fronted o" sound.
So what's the easiest way for an English speaker to master this sound? Actually it's easier than you may think. Start out by making the vowel sound sometimes referred to as a "shot a" in English. This is the sound found in the English word "tact" or "act." Now take your hand and squeeze on both sides of your lips; in the mirror your lips should look like they are pursed - like you are going to whistle something. With your lips in this position, make the "short a" sound. You will notice that the vowel totally changes. And now pat yourself on the back - you did it.
I recommend listening to the attached video. With a little practice, this will become second nature to you. One thing though - the word eu (by itself)is pronounced like it were written u in French... there are always exceptions.
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