YOU CAN EDIT THIS PAGE! Just click any blue "Edit" link and start writing!

Talk:French phrasebook

From Wikitravel
Jump to: navigation, search

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)

Two things[edit]

'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[edit]

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?[edit]

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)

Note on emphasis in French[edit]

Speaking French hardly has any individual word emphasis, which is completely contrary to English. Frankly, it's probably one of the largest inhibitors to comprehension by natives, just as in English the lack of emphasis by native French speakers is disconcerting and often hard to understand. I get the point of trying to show emphasis in pseudo-phonetics; however, for the purpose of the phrasebook I think the note should be made that emphasis comes at the end of phrases or sentences. On the same note, capitalized emphasis should be removed from this guide (especially because people seem to have a tendency to emphasize capital letters simply by saying them louder).

For explanations, please plunge forward! But for capitals in pseudo-phonetics, this has been debated before and remains controversial, but the closest we can come to a consensus seems to be that it's better to at least direct the user to put the stress where it will do the least harm, instead of expecting them to be able to remember the guidelines. Jpatokal 04:10, 1 May 2008 (EDT)

Excessive "G" in pronunciations?[edit]

I've browsed through the pronunciations on the page, and the first thing that strikes me is a lot of "g"s in the pronunciations. I am by no means fluent, but I have studied French for 4 years and been to France tice and have never heard pronounced "g"s in such words as: demain (duh-MANG), besoin (bu-SWANG), dents(DAHNG), pain (pang), jambon (zhahng-BONG), saumon (saw-MOHG), and tens of others... So is this just one particular dialect, or is this how it would sound if you speak British/Australian English (I don't think so, just suggesting)? It would seem, in my understanding/experience of French, that more appropriate pronunciations for the above words (and there are many more like them) should be: demain (deh-mahn), besoin (bez-WAHN), dents (dahn), moyans (moiy-AHN), pain (pahn), jambon (zham-BON), and saumon (soh-MON). Of course this might differ between those of us speaking American vs British/Aussie english...but I still don't understand the excessive use of "g". Any reasons? AHeneen 23:52, 12 October 2008 (EDT)

I'd agree, a nasalized n is very different from a velarized ng. I think the way it is currently written is misleading, and would confuse me (a non-French speaker). --Peter Talk 00:57, 13 October 2008 (EDT)

External links[edit]


Is it really such a good idea to teach people how to bribe?-- 02:11, 25 March 2010 (EDT)

Keep in mind French is widely spoken throughout West and Central Africa...including many of the most corrupt governments in the world. While bribing isn't a good thing, it is necessary to get around most of francophone Africa. AHeneen 07:16, 25 March 2010 (EDT)


is this really considered offensive? It's been used in many French films I've seen. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 06:09, 18 November 2010 (EST)

Pronounciation of "œ"[edit]

The pronounciation of the ligature "œ" is [é] when placed at the beginning of a word followed by a consonant like in œnologue, œsophage, œdipe...

Atrocious pronunciations[edit]

As a bilingual Canadian, reading some of the phonetic pronunciations on this list made me cringe a bit... some of them are very obviously Québecois, and some of them are just plain wrong. While Québecois pronunciations aren't necessarily a bad thing, it'd be better if they were standard french. Anyone in Québec will understand you if you speak standard French, but go to France and try to speak very regional Québec french and people will look at you as though you have two heads.

Here's an example of a few that strike me as very, very Québecois:

Fais de beaux rêves (feh duh bo RAI-vuh)

First of all, "duh" is, at least in north america, is not pronounced at all like "de". This suggestion will be confusing for people speaking north american english. Secondly, "rai-vuh" as a pronunciation for "rêves" is ridiculously provincial. You will sound like a hillbilly. "Reh-vuh" or something to that effect would be more appropriate. Here's an example of a proper pronunciation on Forvo:

Bien (byang)

Again, this is a Québec thing... standard french would have us pronounce this like "byen", like the english words "be" and "yen" with a nasal "n" and a softer "y". The "e" in "yen" should sound like the "e" in "extra". Even if the "n" in "yen" ends up being pronounced by a traveler, anyone would know what they meant, and it's less severe of a mistake than saying "byang".

And here are some where the suggestions are just awful:

Comment allez-vous ? (kaw-mahng t-AH-lay VOO)

"Kaw-mahng" is something I'd suspect many english speakers, at least in north america, would take extremely literally and end up completely butchering the pronunciation. Here's a proper pronunciation on Forvo. This is a tricky one to try and provide phonetics for, because it uses a sound I can't think of in English. It's a bit different from "on" because of the nasally "n" sound, but "on" is definitely closer than "ahng" which will be pronounced like "aang" from M. Night Shyamalan's "The Last Airbender".

Je vous prie. (zhuh vous PREE)

Using a "z" or "zh" in the pronunciation of "je" is bound to mess up many anglophones. The "j" in "je" should be pronounced kind of like "sh" in "should", with an end result kind of like "shhh" but with an "uh" at the end. Also, the "s" in "vous" is silent here, because there's no liaison. Putting it there will result in its pronunciation by any english speaker without rudimentary knowledge of French, which is the target demographic for this phrase guide.

Furthermore, the emphasis provided is completely unneeded. There isn't emphasis on words in French the same way there is in English. It will make people sound funny, though they will probably still be understood. 20:00, 8 July 2013 (EDT)