Here is how the pronunciation of the French language can be transcribed.
See my companion page on the International Phonetic Alphabet for a general view on transcribing world languages.
Here are four vowels that the lips and the back of the mouth let through very freely and without any nasal resonance. But the first one is very closed with the tongue against the roof of the mouth. The next ones are progressively more open. The fourth one is the clearest and the most open of all the vowels.
|Examples: il, vie, minuit (twice), séisme, île, huître, maïs, héroïsme, ambiguïté (2), cycle, dépaysé, ennuyer|
|dé, jouer, assez, les, aiguë, aînée (2), foetus, ADN|
|Schwa (the mouth is relaxed and depends on the surrounding sounds)|
Some consonants are written with the usual lowercase roman letters p b t d k g , f v s z , m n l r x h , in black and in braille.
Some other need new symbols:
We usually show a standard pronunciation, but French is actually pronounced in slightly different ways according to the location, the person and the circumstances. Sounds can get more or less voiced, open, mixed, and can appear or disappear. There are notations for intermediate cases.
ts, lj, th, ...
Within the IPA notation it means that the previous sound is slightly modified and gets a nuance of the superscript sound. The superscript j above for palatalized consonants is an example. There is also a braille notation of the superscript h (aspirated consonants) and the superscript w (labialized consonants). For other less common superscripts, the general braille notation is: the basic sound immediately followed by immediately followed by the superscript sound, as in the following example:
But in many books, (Larousse's "Grammar of modern French" and most English dictionaries) it means something else, namely that in some cases the superscript sound is pronounced normally and in other cases it isn't pronounced at all. So it is not about a special shade of it. It is about two different pronunciations that could have been written as two normal transcriptions.
The book this web page is based on doesn't speak of this second use, but I think it's alright to use the same notation in braille too.
|primary and secondary stress (immediately before a syllable)|
|long and half-long (immediately after a sound symbol)|
phonetic transcription start and end (the two same symbols in braille) (immediately around most phonetic transcriptions and isolated symbols).
Note: This has changed since 1932. Both brackets are now .
It's not always necessary to use these phonetic starts and ends, for example in tables or when speaking of a single symbol.
Many symbols (most modifiers and some sounds like ) are difficult to read at the proper level when they are surrounded by spaces in braille. They need to be followed or preceded by the fully-dotted character , like , or further described with a comment like (dots 2-6) -- or in French (pts 2-6). Or whatever expression is usual in these cases to help identify the dots.
In addition, the fully-dotted character is also useful with the modifier symbols to show where the modified letter or group of letters is normally put. For example with the nasal and long symbols.
The spacing in black and in braille can be the same.
Sometimes a normal punctuation mark appears inside a phonetic transcription (bracket, period, suspension points, dash, etc.). It must be preceded with (change of code) in braille to point out that it isn't a phonetic symbol. The comma and the exclamation mark don't need it however if they are normally followed by a space.
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