Ronline, I'm not sure I agree about some pronounciations. I think that "é" is usually pronounced as "ay" in "hay," though perhaps slightly shorter (think of né and countless other verbs conjugated in the passé composé ... also look at the pronounciation for "désolé(e)" given in the phrasebook.)
I'm actually responding to the question in your summary. No, there's not a standard for pronunciation, and I'm afraid we're going to run into trouble with this. The way an Irishman or Australian would say "hay" sounds very different from the way a Canadian or American would say it. I'm still kind of flummoxed on this issue -- suggestions are very much welcome. I've thought about using IPA or SAMPA, but they're both kind of hard to learn and use. It'd be nice to find a pronunciation format that's precise yet intuitive for casual readers. -- Evan 09:26, 4 Nov 2003 (PST)
Including Ogg or Speex files, spoken by native speakers, could be a solution. Then the way the pronunciation is written isn't anymore of utmost importance. Oh, and I think _the_ way to recognize anglophone people speaking French is their way of pronouncing the "é"s as "ay" :) Guaka 14:21, 4 Nov 2003 (PST)
And we do tend to mess up the genders of nouns as well.. but yeah, it's really hard for us to avoid using the dipthong, just as it's hard to explain to a fellow english speaker that it's the first half of the ay sound without the dipthong y part at the end. I guess in french one would spell the english version éill, or something like that.. :) -- UchuHa 11:33, 5 Nov 2003 (CET)
Maybe we should use standard phonetics instead ? (but hard to represent with ASCII characters sometimes). -- Mathieu 22:55, 13 Nov 2003 (GMT +1).
Mathieu: first, add comments to talk pages at the bottom of the page (see using talk pages for more hints). Second: there's a discussion about this on Wikitravel talk:Phrasebook Expedition (scroll down a bit). I'd love to do some kind of standard phonetics -- like IPA or SAMPA -- but it tends to be completely unreadable. I don't think it's really useful to make English-language readers learn those abstruse symbol systems in order to use the phrasebooks. Anyways, it's not really necessary to get the pronunciations exactly perfect -- people just have to get close enough to be understood.
Maj's take on the matter, after some study (she's trained as a linguist), is that we should start working on a Wikitravel-wide pseudo-phonetic guide for phrasebook makers. It would just be a listing of all the fakey English-like words we're using ("ah", "ow", "ung") and what they mean. Like ah -> 'a' in "father", 'o' in "bother". ung -> nasal 'un' in French "Verdun". And we could specify that ALL CAPS means the syllable has emphasis, and that syllables in the same word should be strung to-ge-ther with hyphens. That kind of thing.
This could make it easier for the great people contributing to the Phrasebooks to get things kinda right, and for us to have pronunciations for phrases that look kinda the same between and within languages. The alphabet isn't started yet; I should get off my lazy butt and get it moving. Or, of course, anyone else can get working on Wikitravel:Pseudo-phonetics guide for phrasebooks (make sure to link to it from the Phrasebook Expedition). -- Evan 14:35, 13 Nov 2003 (PST)
I'm a native speaker, though since I've never traveled in France I don't know all the words. In my pronunciation (which is probably pretty close to Norman since that's where my father came from) è is the same as the vowel in "set". Who pronounces it as in "cat"? PierreAbbat 16:27, 3 Dec 2003 (PST)
I agree with you on that point. However, some French people (namely those living in the northern part of the country) have a tendancy to say "è" like in "cat"... Sometimes. It's better for a foreigner to say "è" like in "set", as this will be understood pretty everywhere. Mathieu 08:16, 4 Dec 2003 (PST)
I dunno if you should vouvoyer people who are bothering you. "Touches pas" just sounds more forbidding than "Ne me touchez pas, s'il vous plaît." --Evan 08:01, 14 Dec 2003 (PST)
Whichever way it is, the text should match the pronunciation. "Touche pas" is also a lot faster to say - ask any doctor why he says "stat" instead of "immediately". -phma 16:57, 14 Dec 2003 (PST)
Which is better for "cheat": "tricher" or "tromper"? -phma 15:18, 15 Feb 2004 (EST)
'Tricher' is cheat like in a game, 'tromper' is cheat like 'to cheat on your wife' (tromper sa femme).
Also, saying casse-toi to someone is a hell of a lot more impolite than 'buzz off.' Replace the Buzz with every American's favorite adjective and you've got a better idea of what it means. It's likely to get a foriegner beat up, frankly. I think 'Laisse-moi tranqille' would be better, or at the worst a simple 'dégage.'
Point taken. I think that was my mistake, and I'll fix it now (unless you already have.) My excuse for this error is that I probably picked it up at the punk-rock club that I hang out at. I think I've seen it in Titeuf as well, which is not surprising considering its author at least used to hang around l'Usine as well.. ;) -- Mark 04:44, 28 Feb 2004 (EST)
Link to list
I removed the link to the list of phrasebooks. I don't see why it'd be valuable, and it's very bad form to link out of the main namespace to another one. --Evan 16:37, 10 Aug 2004 (EDT)
Wouldn't it be better to use the more accurate and internationally understood "brun/brune" instead?
Ouais. I suppose that would be better. Please feel free to fix it, but if you don't I will sometime soon. -- Mark 16:55, 16 Oct 2005 (EDT)
"traveler's chèque" : could/should it be "Chèque de voyage"?
What's the goal of this?
I've often wondered what the benefit of putting such beautifully correct French in phrasebooks is. Why "comment allez-vous" and not just "ca va?" Why "Avez-vous ceci dans ma taille?" rather than "Vous avez un 8?" Why " Combien coûte le billet pour..." instead of "Le billet pour ..., c'est combien?" All of these alternatives are perfectly understandable, more likely to be used by actual French people, and best of all, much easier for a non-French speaker to construct on the fly.
For anyone likely to use a phrasebook like this, the best is to teach them a small number of words (like "ca", "c'est", "ici"...) and a few handy ways of combining them. No one is possibly going to sit down and memorise hundreds of brand new sentences. Beautifully constructed sentences with inversions are, at best, going to confuse a French person into thinking you actually speak French...
Note that I also simplified the phonology section a lot. I've lived here for two years (and studied French *and* linguistics at school and university), and I'm not that convinced that people make pronounce é and è that differently in normal speech. It's certainly not worth worrying about for an anglophone tourist! Also there was a bit of confusion about what diphthongs are - they're actually sequences of two vowels, something that French has precious few of. Stevage 17:44, 8 August 2006 (EDT)