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French as she is spoken in the UK


mint
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[quote user="Judith"]To go back to a point made by Mint originally, yes, the BBC did have a pronunciation unit, I knew someone who used to be in it .. but seems all language learning is now tarred with some peculiar brush.  Here the daughter of one of our English friends who lives here, works as a translator etc, decide to go in for teaching English to the French and actually qualify as the French wished.  She was told to loose her slight northern accent and speak with a proper posh accent to teach English.

I give up!

[/quote]

Judith, thank you for confirming that the BBC did have such a thing as a pronunciation unit.  I was beginning to think that it was a figment of my imagination!

One of my original thought about posting and which I didn't get across was how disappointed I was that such renown names as the 3 I have mentioned didn't seem to speak very good French.

Now I am not saying that my own spoken French is good, heavens, not a bit as I still can't say "rue de la république" with any sort of conviction.  I suppose I just assumed that these, being people at the top of their profession and with a team of experts and assistants behind their broadcasts, would have checked these "tricky foreign" names before they needed to pronounce them.

I suppose too I remember what an illustrious history the BBC has, how loved and admired worldwide, what a splendid role it played in the General Strike of 1926, not to mention during World War II.  That it's managed to retain SOME impartiality even now, after governments of all colours have tried to sway it or woo it or at times threatened it (for example, Thatcher, trying to privatise it), is almost unbelievable.

You only have to have an aquaintance, however superficial, with broadcasting systems in other parts of the world and you'd marvel at how well good old Auntie's done.  It's NOT perfect, of course not, but I shall always be an admirer.

I'll tell you a little story to illustrate the point of what stature the BBC has outside of the UK.  Some years ago, I met an Albanian doctor who spoke very good and correct English.  He was staying in our town for a year whilst he was studying at Cardiff as it was just after the fall of their last dictator and the Albanians were free for the first time to go outside their country.

I asked him where he'd learned English and, you guess it, from listening to BBC radio clandestinely!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I heard on the beloved BBC this morning that the police were making investigations into the dreadful Charlie Hebdo murders in Reims

but they pronounced it 'Rems' with a hard 's'.   All the French people I know call it 'Rann' or at least that's what it sounds like

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[quote user="Thibault"]Do French media people say 'Dover' or 'Douvres' when referring to that place in French broadcasts?[/quote]

They say Douvres, Londres Eedanbour etc although the last may well have the same spelling, they also say Mikael Shoomarrer, Osame Ben Laden and lots of others.

I quite understand it in a French broadcast.

Regarding Reins, or Reams as the English say it, to my ear when the French say it it sounds exactly like rince  I definitely hear the "s" at the end.

Maybe Ranns? I wish I knew how to use the phonetic alphabet but as I only know one person that does it would not help me much except talking to them.

 

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[quote user="You can call me Betty"]Well, it appears that Huw Edwards has read this thread...if his very good pronunciation of "Charlie Hebdo" and " Place de la République" are anything to go by.[/quote]

Ah, but Huw Edwards is not anglais is he?  Sorry, les Anglais..................[:P]

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[quote user="Chancer"]

[quote user="Thibault"]Do French media people say 'Dover' or 'Douvres' when referring to that place in French broadcasts?[/quote]

They say Douvres, Londres Eedanbour etc although the last may well have the same spelling, they also say Mikael Shoomarrer, Osame Ben Laden and lots of others.

I quite understand it in a French broadcast.

[/quote]

Exactly. I was really commenting on a post which seemed surprised that English broadcasts call the capital Paris and not Paree.
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[quote user="mint"]Oh, I forgot to mention those Place in the Sun type programmes with their presenters who are all teeth and [email protected] (and, no, I am not letting down the side).

I like to watch the ones when they go to France because I think it's one way that I can "visit" different parts of France.

There is one, all blue-eyed, TnT (as described above), who glosses over all the French place names at speed and it often takes me several minutes to work out where she has taken the househunters.  I have to rely on visual clues, direction boards, landscape, etc and make a guess and hope they show a map of France so that I can get a rough idea.

Only a week ago, she was in Colly-or (sometimes she said Colly-er)!  Still, if I told you that she was in southern France, it all becomes clear[:D]

[/quote]

Jasmine Harman speaks Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and some

Greek (her mother is Greek), although she does admit her French is "not

so good".

I imagine many others are also just as jealous of her teeth and [email protected], so don't worry too much about it [:D]

Spanish is a second language for our son, but this seems to make French pronunciation difficult for him, although he speaks it well enough otherwise, as well as adequate Swedish and Danish. His English spelling is atrocious, though.

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To go back to the pronunciation of names of cities, on the previous page, surely if a UK newsreader or presenter used the French "Paree" or "Rinnce" - cities for which historically we have developed accepted pronunciation (and sometimes spellings) in English - the average UK listener would not have a clue what these places were. Ditto if a story were to involve Florence, Venice, Brussels or even Swansea; would we expect the newsreader to use "Firenze", "Venezia", "Bruxelles" or "Abertawe"?

The French have their own names/spellings for many of our cities, as Chancer has said. "Edimbourg and "Cantorbury" as well as "Douvres" and "Londres". Their newsreaders would certainly never use "English" pronunciation for stories involving those, and why should they?

Angela
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I was looking for, but unable to find, a clip of the brilliant Pamela Stephenson parody from Not the Nine O'clock News where she impersonates, I think, Moira Stuart pronouncing weird place names. It's true that, back in the day, when there was considerable unrest in various African countries, and indeed elsewhere across the globe, it was a source of great hilarity to hear a mixture of diluted RP alongside the incongruity of correctly pronounced foreign names.

ETA: I will long remember catching a brief snippet of one of the many "interior design" programmes on TV , where the "designer" was using a lovely Toile de Jouy fabric for something, and, for us plebs, took the time to advise that it was thus named because it came from the town of Toile......
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[quote user="nomoss"]

Jasmine Harman speaks Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and some

Greek (her mother is Greek), although she does admit her French is "not

so good".

I imagine many others are also just as jealous of her teeth and [email protected], so don't worry too much about it [:D]

Spanish is a second language for our son, but this seems to make French pronunciation difficult for him, although he speaks it well enough otherwise, as well as adequate Swedish and Danish. His English spelling is atrocious, though.

[/quote]

Actually, it wasn't Jasmine Harman on that programme.  It was the other blonde TnT lady[:D]

We have had native Spanish speakers in our French class and, yes, they do find French sounds difficult.  I have taught Spanish students and they tried, without success, to teach me to say Zaragoza and aqua (as in water).  I think Spanish is devilishly difficult to pronounce.

Back to place names; I don't think I said anything about place names in my original post.  It was more names of books, music, phrases etc that form part of the quizz or correct answers or objects that the presenters had to say.

Place names are notoriously difficult, even in England and I don't need to give examples though I WILL name just one.  When I was working near Bath, there was a place nearby spelt Collerne.  We, ousiders, would say it as it appears, with the stress on the second syllable.  The locals, however, said something like CULLerne, with the stress on the first syllable.  So there we go........

I myself have to admit to not much liking RP as it always sounds affected and insincere to me;  possibly because in former times, most politicians and "people in authority" generally spoke RP.

And, Betty, how I laughed at your last post............what a gem!

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In spite of my old french village being a great distance from the spannish border, quite a few of my friends make fairly regular trips and assure me that spannish is easy for the french. Strangely, on the only occasion I have been to Spain, no one could understand my awful efforts at spannish, but they could understand the odd word of italian I know.

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[quote user="You can call me Betty"]Well, it appears that Huw Edwards has read this thread...if his very good pronunciation of "Charlie Hebdo" and " Place de la République" are anything to go by.[/quote]§

Can't say I noticed the pronunciation, which means it was Ok and not "Anglicised" French, but I did notice his professional presentation which tells more of the training he has had plus his years of experience, and that's nowt to do with  his nationality!

I did hear Churchill pronounced à la française once, and it took me the best part of the item to realise who they were speaking off ... there are times when the original pronunciation should be stuck to, even if it is neither natural to the speaker or the norm ... it is quite well enough known in its original pronunciation to be used. London is another in spite of what most French people might believe, they'd know what was meant.

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[quote user="NormanH"]I hear Rannnse...

[/quote]

That's how I hear it and pronounce it, Norman, with a good rolling rrrrr to start. No wonder all those years ago when I asked somebody in a service station how to find the road to Reems in pre-motorway days; not until I went for the map to show did he laugh and then tell us how to find the road.

Place names near us that non-French people have problems with are Alès and Uzès; they both have the 's' pronounced, but they are often pronounced as Al (as in pal) and Use.

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There is one  French village name that I am happt to pi55pronounce with RP, in fact I rejoice in doing so very clearly and with the stress à la anglais.

http://www.ville-pissy.fr/article.do&id=1745

In fact I have even persuaded a few of them to call it Pissy village instead of village de Pissy when in my company, if you stick rigidly to incorrect foreigner French eventually the kindest people will begin to communicate to you in the same way.

I am really looking forward to the day that I iget to ntroduce an inhabitant of Pissy to an English person and ask them to say where they live [6]

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[quote user="mint"]

Actually, it wasn't Jasmine Harman on that programme.  It was the other blonde TnT lady[:D]

[/quote]

Sorry, I thought you spoke of this episode [url]http://www.radiotimes.com/episode/sd7sy/a-place-in-the-sun-home-or-away--series-6---5-romsey-hampshire-v-collioure-france[/url]

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In the Savoies many family names end with a 'z' and that is usually pronounced. I pronounce the 'x' in Aix-les-Bain, but most anglais don't sound the 'x', and I always pronounce the 'x' in Chamonix. And les anglais usually say Anna see, for Annecy....... and I say AnnSee, and my Dad says Anakey........... he could never say my village name.

I would always say Reems to english speakers who don't know France, and always Rance to those that know.

We won't even go into sink for cinq down south[6]

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