French OU

Pere Casanellas pere.casanellas at
Sun Jan 27 08:14:43 EST 2002

[I sent this message yesterday to the list but it seems it has not been 
received. So I am sending it again. Will you excuse me if you receive it 
twice. I have enlarged it a little now.]

This pronuntiation of Ou-a-ga-dou-gou seems to me rather strange. "Oui" or 
"Ouais!" is pronounced in French in one syllable according to what all we 
(who speak French) know and according to the mentioned Grevisse and Dict. 
Lexis  (Larousse). "Ouaouron" is pronounced [wawar..], that is to say, 
three syllables (wa-wa-r...), according to Lexis... That is to say, "ou" at 
the beginning of a word followed by a vowel or in the middle in the word 
between two vowels is not phonetically a vowel but a glide, and the 
division of the syllable is made as if it was a consonant. Same thing 
happens with the "u" in Catalan, etc.

Pere Casanellas

t 09:48 26/01/2002 +0100, you wrote:
>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
>You are currently subscribed to b-hebrew as: [pere.casanellas at]
>To unsubscribe, forward this message to 
>To subscribe, send an email to join-b-hebrew at

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list