So after a breather, a trip to the library and the grocery store, and some “home economic” charting, I’m back to Chapter 1 of Alpha Teach Yourself French in 24 Hours (ATYF).
So where were we…ah, yes. Liaison. ATYF is not afraid to use that word (as well as rhythm and intonation in what remains of this chapter). Liaison happens when the silent sound at the end of one word becomes pronounced at the start of the next word (often modified slightly, as in s becoming voiced, i.e. a “z” sound). And it appears that not everyone, even in the same locale, will use liaison consistently. So there is some variability…
But there are some rules about liaison to pay attention to:
- Never after the conjunction et “and”.
- Never before an aspirated h. Les hibou “the owls” is used as an example of this, though the only rule so far is that h is never
aspiratedpronounced. So will have to wait for Chapter 2 for clarity there…
- Always between plural subjects and verbs.
- Always after most (what kind of rule is that?) verbs that end with the letters s,x,d and t when the following word leads with a vowel.
- Always after numbers ending in s, x, and t (I’m actually confused a little by this…and I’ll get to that in a moment).
- Always after est, which is usually pronounced similar to è, with both s and t silent (same confusion as in number 5 above).
- Always after plural articles when the following noun leads with a vowel.
So the issue with rules 5 and 6 above is that liaison does not always occur in these circumstances – only when the following word begins with a vowel (or our friend, silent h). Yet rules 4 and 7 were explicit in the book about the following vowel, while 5 and 6 were not. I’m going to assume it is an oversight otherwise ATYF’s continued description of how liaison works in regards to the numbers makes no sense.
Specifically, the final letters on 2, 3, 5, 6, 8 and 10 are all silent unless followed by a word leading with a vowel, based on the book’s examples. Also, 9 has an final unvoiced “f” before consonants which becomes a voiced “v” before vowels.
After a brief restatement of the lack of stress within words, ATYF points out that there is stress, or intonations, within phrases – such as in questions the last syllable being raised. Then it quickly moves on to speaking “rhythm”, and words that can be used as interjections when one has not heard properly, needs time or similar. The chart of words they provide has more to do with “Please repeat that,” than it does with English “um” or “uh” as the text above the chart made me expect. But still good to remember you can use S’il vous plaît? “Please” to mean “Can you repeat that?” Or, Pardon?, in the same way. And I will try to avoid the impolite Hein? and Quoi?, roughly “Huh?” or “What?”
The lesson nears completion with a list of proper nouns (place names) and a list of nouns (travel,- food-, and clothing-related). Though it was nice to see some words I was familiar with from past study (le fromage, anyone?), I didn’t see much value in their presentation here. The proper nouns came with pronunciation guides, while the remaining nouns did not. The next chapter of ATYF covers “describing things”, that is, nouns. My own opinion is that it would have been better to just wait, or provide the transliteration for the non-proper nouns. Maybe that was the intention, an oversight by the editor.
In any case, I am done with French for today. À bientôt.