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Language Tip of the Month

WATCH YOUR VOWELS!

You might not know it yet, but a lot of the time a dead giveaway for your native accent comes from the way you say your vowels.

If you think about it, you can tell the difference between an American accent and a British accent straight away: take the word “straw” in English for example:

· A British person with a standard accent will say something which sounds like “stroohr” (which in fancy linguistic IPA looks like this: /strɔː/),

· But, an American will say “straahr” (which looks like this in that funny looking IPA text: /stɹɔ/)

o The main difference between them is how the vowel is pronounced.

So why am I saying all of this when you came here for some French language advice?

Well, if you want to sound more French, pronounce your vowels like the French do!

For example, there’s a difference between the way you should be saying “vous” and “vu” (the past participle of voir, “to see”), or “tout” and “tu”.

The French “ou” sounds like the middle of “cool” or “school”, whereas in English we don’t really have an equivalent for the French “u” – it should be pushed out from pursed lips and sound more like the middle of “pew” or “vue”.

And then if you really want to go the extra mile for sounding French, pepper in some of those classic French filler sounds: throw out your English “huh” for a French “hein”, add in a “bah” and a “rohlala” to your average sentence and you’ll be sounding like a true French person in no time, fitting right in with all those French uni students coming back to la fac after the summer.



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