Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Correcting my faulty pronunciation of école (& agricole)

I think it was about 20 years ago, when I was speaking French with a Frenchwoman (who was actually in my Mandarin Chinese class at that time), that she made a comment about my improper pronunciation of école (school).

Well, better 20 years late than never. I checked my Larousse dictionary app's audio pronunciation of both école and agricole (agricultural; another word having the same ending that came to mind), finally understood my longstanding error, and am trying to break my bad habit.

I think that I must never have realized that the circumflex accent in words like drôle (funny) and rôle (role) was changing the sound of the o, and was wrongly using that ô sound in école and agricole as well. Not surprisingly, that ô sound is more like the "long" o sound in English. I think it is common enough that, when learning new sounds in foreign languages, people mistakenly equate a sound from their native language with a foreign sound. After that, they may never notice the difference between the sounds, particularly if no one points it out to them. Even after having such pointed out to them, it may still take them 20 years to correct it....

The o sound in école is rather more like the sound of "ull" in English.

7/26/12: Today I realized that the o sound that I should have been making all these years in école is the same one I had already been used to making for the word folle (crazy; feminine form).

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