French OU

CL at
Sat Jan 26 03:48:20 EST 2002

Peter Kirk wrote:
>But in foreign names transcribed in French "ou" can be a consonant like
>English "w".
I don't think so Peter : we then use W or V.
A few french vowels present nuances in their pronunciation, but it is not
the case of the OU sound.  This is why a dieresis is needed over the "u" in
the Hebrew grammarian's name Jouon, as you note. Joüon is a very good
example, the dieresis being there to prevent pronouncing as always those
"ou" together in one single sound.  The exact pronunciation is Jo-u-on, and
I'm not even sure of the existence of this plain french "u" sound in
English.  Perhaps when you import our "point de vue"...

For more info, you may consult the first chapters of the great classic
Maurice Grevisse _Le bon usage_, Gembloux : Duculot, 1975 (numerous editions
since);  1322 p.

>How many syllables are there in Ouagadougou (capital of
>Burkina Faso)?
Five syllables in  Ou-a-ga-dou-gou, when pronounced... in France ! As for
the exact local sound, we'd better ask a Burkinabe.


Camille Bessette
Carmel de Lisieux / France

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