bon, mon, ton ami (dénasalisation)

bloomiegirl

Senior Member
US English
I just found the following on another post:

Bonjour,
It is a general rule to use the masculine possessors "mon, ton, son" with a feminine noun if this noun starts with a vowel.

(Note on pronunciation :
This possessor is pronounced with a nasal O, followed by an audible N for the liaison.
This is remarkable, because other adjectives like "bon" (pronounced with a nasal O) ordinarily lose their nasalisation when the following noun begins with a vowel. ("Un bon ami" is pronounced with a normal O and an audible N)
I thought, until now, that the loss of nasalization in "un bon ami" was the remarkable exception. So I have some questions:

1. Which is the exception: nasalization of "mon/ton/son," or the loss of nasalization with "bon," before a vowel?
2. Does "bon" lose its nasalization before any noun beginning with a vowel?
3. Also, are there other words like "bon" where the nasalization is lost before a vowel?

Thank you for your help. :)
 
  • melu85

    Senior Member
    France/French
    I thought, until now, that the loss of nasalization in "un bon ami" was the remarkable exception. So I have some questions:

    1. Which is the exception: The exception is the loss of nasalization of "bon" before a vowel
    2. Does "bon" lose its nasalization before any noun beginning with a vowel? I think so. Example: bon appétit; bon anniversaire (pronounce "bonne") (BUT un bon à rien: keep the nasalization)
    3. Also, are there other words like "bon" where the nasalization is lost before a vowel? another example is "non"
     
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    CapnPrep

    Senior Member
    AmE
    1. Which is the exception: nasalization of "mon/ton/son," or the loss of nasalization with "bon," before a vowel?
    Neither one is exceptional within its category: Adjectives ending in -in, -en, -on usually denasalize, while determiners and other function words (pronouns, prepositions, and also the adverb bien) keep their nasal vowel. [Here is a list I provided a while ago in a similar discussion.]

    According to Grevisse, speakers show a good deal of variation with the possessive determiners and with mon. I.e., some people might say [mɔnami] instead of [mɔ̃ nami] for mon ami.
     

    bloomiegirl

    Senior Member
    US English
    This is terrific! Melu and CapnPrep, thank you so much. :D

    CapnPrep, thank you also for the link of words that keep their nasalization. (I just read the entire thread; it's very helpful.) :)
    But I have another question: does this mean that in the phrase "un ancien élève," ancien should not keep its nasalization? :confused:
     

    Aoyama

    Senior Member
    français Clodoaldien
    For "bon à rien", I beg to differ a wee bit with the respected moderator.
    What you call "nasalization" I call here simply "liaison".
    Bon à rien, like ancien élève, can be both pronounced without a liaison :
    bon/ à rien, ancien/ élève (but I would say that for ancien élève the hiatus is too strong to admit that pronounciation naturally)
    but would rather be bonn à rien, ancienn élève, making it similar to the feminine version : bonne à rien, ancienne élève.
    The same thing applies with bon ami, pronounced the same way as bonne amie.
    As a "rule" (even if this rule tends to change a little nowadays), nasal vowels sound in combination with a following vowel. You can call this "nasalization", but it is merely the result of a liaison.
     

    bloomiegirl

    Senior Member
    US English
    Aoyama, now I'm confused; nasalization (of the vowel) and liaison (of the consonant) are not the same... For instance, to cite CapnPrep's transciption, [mɔnami] and [mɔ̃nami] are pronounced differently. And I don't have a clue what "bonn à rien" is meant to signify, in terms of pronunciation. :confused:

    CapnPrep, I'm pretty sure that [mɔnami] is liaison without nasalization. But is [mɔ̃nami] pronounced as nasalized O + N? It's just that I'm surprised that the tilde isn't on the open O...

    Melu, thank you again. It's helpful to know when both ways are possible.
     
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    Aoyama

    Senior Member
    français Clodoaldien
    I have no idea about how [mɔ̃nami] is supposed to be pronounced. Is it "mognami" ?
    That is impossible in French .
    Bonn à rien is exactly like bonne à rien, the strange spelling is only for explanation purpose.
     

    CapnPrep

    Senior Member
    AmE
    CapnPrep, my IPA is so rusty! I'm pretty sure that [mɔnami] is liaison without nasalization. But is [mɔ̃nami] pronounced as nasalized O + N? It's just that I'm surprised that the tilde isn't on the open O... but as I say, my IPA is really rusty (decades worth).
    The tilde is supposed to appear over the vowel [ɔ], but not all fonts/browsers support this. I have inserted a space above to avoid creating an "ñ" (which is not an IPA symbol).

    So yes, both pronunciations involve liaison with [n] (because this is a context of obligatory liaison) and they only differ with respect to the quality of the preceding vowel.
     

    bloomiegirl

    Senior Member
    US English
    In the meantime, I found the About site for French IPA symbols. :cool:
    It shows the tilde on the open O, so I started to compose a post... and then I realized that I don't know how to type that! :p
    That's probably why the tilde wound up on the N instead. ;)
    And yes, CapnPrep, it's clearer with the tilde over the space... :)

    Thank you all! :D
     

    Aoyama

    Senior Member
    français Clodoaldien
    Some last food for thought :
    (sorry, no phonetic symbols here)
    - as CapnPrep explained, mon ami can be pronounced 1. mon nami or 2.mo nami
    mon nami involves a liaison whereas mo nami involves an enchaînement (which is a kind of liaison, as we know) similar to " il habite" becoming i labite
    - pronounciation 1 or 2 depends on accent, education etc but the difference is very slim
    - like bon ami, other cases can be cited like :
    bon anniversaire (often leading to the wrong spelling " bonne anniversaire")
    some given expressions like : "à bon escient" ," à bon entendeur salut " where only pronounciation 2 is used
    - for ancien élève, the liaison changes "ancien" to " ancienne" with a vowel change (ien/ienne, è), leading to an "enchaînement" pattern, an ciè nélève (but pronounciation 1 also possible, thought less frequent)
    - one true example of pure nasalization could be the pronounciation of the word :
    année, pronounced a-né in standard French but an-né in the South of France, especially the Provence region .
     

    Fred_C

    Senior Member
    Français
    Hi,

    Aoyama is drifting a little bit off topic, I think.
    In standard and modern french, it is the norm to pronounce "mon ami" with a nasal O.
    The pronunciation without a nasal O sounds posh and very old-fashioned to me. (Although I admit that it is a possible variant).

    For "ancien élève", on the other hand, I think that both pronunciations are equally possible : with a nasal [ɛ] followed by an audible N, or with a normal [ɛ] followed by an audible N.
    So it is perfectly possible that you remember it as a word that must lose its nasalisation, in order to keep the list of words given by CapnPrep as small as possible.

    Native French speakers are often unconscious that this problem about nasalisation is quite a problem for foreigners.
     

    Aoyama

    Senior Member
    français Clodoaldien
    In standard and modern French, it is the norm to pronounce "mon ami" with a nasal O.
    The pronunciation without a nasal O sounds posh and very old-fashioned to me. (Although I admit that it is a possible variant).
    I agree.
    I just followed CapnPrep explanation who pertinently and thoroughly cited Grévisse :
    According to Grevisse, speakers show a good deal of variation with the possessive determiners and with non. I.e., some people might say [mɔnami] instead of [mɔ̃ nami] for mon ami.
     

    Necromancer

    New Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Bonjour,
    alors on parle "bon ami" comme "bonne amie", mais "bons amis" = "bonnes amies" ? Ou on garde la nasalisation dans ce cas-là (au masculin) ?
    (...)
    Merci.
     
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