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Perfect Pronunciation?


jxedwards
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I have just spent the last 4 weeks listening to Michel Thomas whilst travelling to/from work 45 mins each way. It has struck me that M Thomas would probably have spoken near perfect french, correct?

It is said that people from and around Inverness speak the most correct and perfectly pronounced english in the UK.

Having encountered several people from that area I tend to agree. I am sure Miss Jean Brodie would have been from Inverness.

I was therefore wondering is there a town/city/region of France that is regarded as having the same trait of speaking 'perfect french.'

 

John

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[quote user="jxedwards"]

I have just spent the last 4 weeks listening to Michel Thomas whilst travelling to/from work 45 mins each way. It has struck me that M Thomas would probably have spoken near perfect french, correct?

John [/quote]

My husband has used and continues to use the Michel Thomas French CDs and has quoted MT to his French golfing partners who then, mostly, proceed to say things along the lines of:

But it is not pronounced that way in French ...

We don't say ... 

We don't say  ... in that way

That phrase is very old hat ...

What ??!!??

and even one day

Did you say this MT is regarded as an expert? Pah, accompanied by a gallic shrug and an expression of incredulity.

I personally cannot stand MT though I do understand that he does appear to get some people going with beginning to speak French [including my OH], albeit with what seems to me to be a very odd accent and odd phraseology.

I must add all these are my own thoughts. 

Sue

 

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Having spent a lot of his youth in France, I would assume that he had a near perfect French accent.  It was certainly good enough to fool Klaus Barbie and the Gestapo into believing that he was actually French.

As he lived in the US from 1947 it's likely that his phraseology may have been a little out of date.

An extraordinary man, sadly no longer with us http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,,1393249,00.html#article_continue

Worryingly though, we can apparently still contact him via his website http://www.michelthomas.com/

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Let me try a slightly different approach before being 'blown' out of the water again.

1) I am not a huge fan of MT however I am trying est to use up dead time whilst ravelling rather than listening to Dire Straits/Eagles/Max Boyce yet again!!

2) Compare say a strong Glaswegian/Brummie/Cockney/Welsh accent/conversation to say an Oxford counties/1950's Beeb radio announcer accent, then if you were french trying to learn english then which of these would be easier to uderstand. Likewise we have a property in the lot (46) and sometimes encounter older generations who we really do not understand. Younger people of the region laugh and tell do not worry they have 'heavy' accents.

So it really was a simple question I think, but there again I await Mr Smith to prove me incorrect again!!

 

God gave us two ends. One to sit on and one to think with. Success depends on which one you use; heads you win -- tails, you lose.
~ Anonymous

 
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No, I pointed out that you hadn't thought about the question and now you have.

You need to understand the terms commonly used. 'Correct' English pronunciation (now much less important than it once was) is referred to as 'Received Pronunciation' (RP) or colloquially as BBC English. Nothing to do with Oxfordshire, all to do with social class.

Other regional accents exist. This is true of all countries, and especially of France. They are also variable in several dimensions, including region, locality, social class and degree of education.

So is this a question about the 'correctness' of regional accents, or of which phonetic patterns in French are most similar to those in English?

If the latter, then that in the south, around Les Landes, often sounds like an English person speaking French with an English accent.

If the former - then make up whatever answer suits your weltenschauung.

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I suppose this opens up 2 other questions:-

1) If I wanted to sound 'posh' which is the 'best' French accent?[:-))]

2) Why would I want a ' perfect' French accent when every knows that

when French folk speak English with a French accent it's considered

really sexy!

 Surely they must think the same of us???? [:-))]

OK- I'll go and hide now!!!![Www]

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I discussed acents with my neighbour after she watched the Full Monty without dubbing ! She is from Normandy originally. She did an impression of an accent from Lille and it rather sounded as though she had got something stuck in her throat. I wasn't sure if she was hinting that it sounded gruff or garbled.[8-)]

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My first row with TU was about the Lille accent (I wish she still posted here).

I went to a lecture (on soldier-produced artwork in the trenches in WW1 - possibly a minority interest) by a guy from Lille. Afterwards a French friend asked me how much of it I had understood, and I had to admit, very little. Him too, he said...

He said it was the French version of Geordie, and I still remember my first evening in Sunderland, sitting on a full bus and realising that I couldn't understand a word of the conversations going on around me.

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A french friend our ours, (who is trilingual so knows a bit about languages) says that his girlfriend speaks much more 'correct' french than the natives of our region, Poitou Charente, by which I take to mean her grammar is more by-the-book and her pronunciation is certainly very clear and comprehensible.  She comes from Vendôme - not a million miles from Tours.   Maybe it dates back to all those aristocrats in their châteaux..!!
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No you're wrong, the Normandy country accent is definitely Geordie, or rough Glaswegian.  I always get downhearted during the winter months because the only French people I encounter are our neighbours and I become convinced that my French is either not progressing at all, or if anything, I'm going backwards!  However, one of our neighbours comes from Caen and her accent is definitely easier to understand.  Another girl, who only moved to the village last year, comes from Paris, and I always understand her.  A friend who lives in the village comes from quite a posh family in Paris and her  French is as clear to me as English - I never have any problems with anything at all that she says. 

We find that during the summer months we understand just about everything our B&B guests say to us - except those from the Lille area - they seem to mumble so much[:@] as well as sound as though they're choking.

Incidentally, we also find that locals seem to have difficulty understanding us, whereas Parisians and people from other regions have no problem at all.  Perhaps they're just glad to be able to understand someone in Normandy.  A couple of weeks ago we had a couple stay here from Cognac.  They stopped to ask for directions in the village and the husband told me that he had turned to his wife and said "are we still in France?" [:D]

By the way, can anyone say Reims correctly?  I've heard as many different versions as the number of people I've asked, ranging from Reemz to what sounds like someone having a good cough followed by spitting!

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Coco,

I was really really glad to read your post, I thought it was just me having difficulties in Normandy. Mind you I have difficulty with Paris accents, Brittany accents, Carcassonne accents - in fact any accent that includes French in the language   [:D]

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[quote]the most 'correct' French was spoken in Tours[/quote][Pierre ZFP]

Yes, that is what we (my wife and I in Kent, Devon and France and London respectively) were taught at school and university in the 1960s.

I find it interesting that nearly all the main French newsreaders (especially PPDA and JPP but also the others and even most of the weathergirls and boys) still have such an accent (while weird and wonderful regional accents have become popular on UK national news programmes).

It was also interesting, listening to Dominique Voynet (the Green candidate) the other day. She now has a "Touraine" or  "RP" accent and demonstrated how different the Franche-Comté accent is during a TV interview.

Round our way, just remember to add a "g" after "n" and pronounce any old "s" and you should get away with being understood complimenting bakers on their "bong pang" or asking for  less ("moince") without any risk of being thought to be Belgian.

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[quote user="Dick Smith"] I still remember my first evening in Sunderland, sitting on a full bus and realising that I couldn't understand a word of the conversations going on around me.

[/quote]

Perfectly normal.  I'm from Blaydon and I've been married to a woman from Sunderland for 25 years and I still don't understand her.

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[quote user="chessfou"]

Round our way, just remember to add a "g" after "n" and pronounce any old "s" and you should get away with being understood complimenting bakers on their "bong pang" or asking for  less ("moince") without any risk of being thought to be Belgian.

[/quote]

I recall on our first holiday in the SW many, many years ago I asked the man at the bar how much I owed for the drinks and I was told 'Veng frang'.  Just to check, in case I had misunderstood, I asked 'Vingt francs?' in what I hope most would recognise as 'normal' pronunciation.  The reply was, 'Non, veng frang'.  I handed over 20 francs and the deal was done.

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Here in very profond Languedoc, it is a bit like what Chessfou describes. Our next door neighbours (extended family) are always shouting at each other, speaking normally. Although I am French (not from this area, London French actually[:D]) out of each conversation/shouting match, I can usually understand at least one word. I thought they might speak Occitan - apparently they do not. Many people here (about 30%) are of Spanish descent (not those neighbours either), and they speak a mix of Spanish, Occitan, maybe Catalan, and French. I have had some interesting conversations (!) with an old guy digging his allotment, although I think he speaks Spanish exclusively (I don't at all).

Otherwise in the shops, it is very much like "veng frang pour le paing, mamaing?" - OH (who is definitely not French) is still trying to learn La Marseillaise - to sing along during world cup times-  and when it comes to "Qu'un sang impur" it is "Qu'ung saingg etc...."[+o(]

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I was also taught that the best French accent is from the Tours area. I was told this by various French teachers (some of them french and none of them coming from there)

If you watch things like ziznzins de l'espace (home to rent?) in french all the slightly igorant or "rural" people seem to have marseilles accents.

I've found that haing lived in normandy, Belfort, Aude and Provence and having had holidays in Brittany for the last 15 years, I can understand most French accents (although deep rural Ardeche is tough) To my pride; I understand the Quebequois accent better than my husband. Probably because I'm used to making the effort.

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  • 1 month later...

I think to hear examples of "perfect" French accents ( something which in reality, doen't exist) you just need to listed to a few politicians speaking
and there you'll hear very good to perfect diction and pronounciation.

In my job here in the UK i speak to French people on the phone all the time. If only more people spoke like this, my job would be a lot easier!!

 

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