New Member
USA English
Can you tell me what the pronunciation of insouciance is?

I have always pronounced it as :
an soo c yance' (accent grave)
( my own phonetics)

Yet when I look it up I see:

in soo ciance with a light accent on the soo

I'd like the French pronunciation and if there is some kind of English pronunciation that too please.

Hope I am doing this right, I am new to the forum.
  • Agnès E.

    Senior Member
    France, French
    Bonjour Barbara,
    Welcome to the forum ! :)

    I suggest you to search in the sticky thread "liens et ressources utiles" (top of this French-english forum's main page) some useful links which provide help for French pronunciation.


    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Hi Barbara and welcome,

    Wow, you've started with a tough one :p :explaining pronunciation in writing.

    I guess that needs the international phonetic alpabet (and the fonts or ASCII characters to reproduce it) -- and I'll have to leave that to any phonetics experts out there.

    The problem with 'own phonetics' is that people with different 'standard pronunciations' (AE and BE for example) will read them different ways.

    However, for what it's worth, just a comment on the syllable stress (accent tonique).

    In French the main stress (though less marked than in English) tends to be on the last syllable. So in 'insouciance', -ance is slightly stressed, with secondary (lesser) stress on -sou-

    In English the stress is clearly on -sou-

    Anyone knowledgeable in phonetics, please correct me if I'm wrong, or explain it better.

    W :):)

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    When you write "accent grave" on the ending e, I'm not quite sure what you mean. That final e, if pronounced at all, would be a tiny "uh" at the end. (Not "ay".) In English you'd leave it out. The English version you looked up is the way I would say it.

    In French, the starting "in" sounds like the middle vowel in "mack", but flatter and more nasal, not like the English word "on". If you use the typical American pronunciation of the "in" of "lingerie", that is the wrong sound (in both words).

    I'm a newbie too. Hope I don't sound too critical!


    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Hi Kelly, and welcome to you too

    Liked your explanations, and ...

    Kelly B said:
    When you write "accent grave" on the ending e, I'm not quite sure what you mean.
    No, I didn't get that part either. Any other clues, Barbara?

    Kelly B said:
    That final e, if pronounced at all, would be a tiny "uh" at the end. [...]
    Absolutely, except in the South & South-West of France, where it's a thumping big "uh" (how big depending on how strong is the speaker's regional accent).

    Which leads me to 'préciser' what I said in my previous post. When I referred to stress on the last syllable, I meant, of course, '-ance'. I wasn't considering '-ce' as a separate syllable. One day I must find out what the official French position is on that. I once asked a Northerner and a Southerner (neither one a linguist) how many syllables there are in the word 'garage'. The Northerner said two, the Southerner said three :confused:

    W :):)



    AN (nasal sound halfway between "an" and "in") - SOO (accented, runs into the next sound) - S'y'-ANS-(nasal sound, kind of like "on"+s, but heavier)


    New Member
    USA English
    thank you for the welcome. it's great to have found this forum.
    [I dont see any of it as critical. ]

    There's an American actor who, when he pronounces French words like "soupcon", "Marie" etc, always as a French person does,
    but for some strange reason , said "insouciance" in what sounded like the Americanized way.

    I think that if one is going to Americanize words in other languages, one should at least do it consistently :) so I wanted go know if my criticism was correct.

    When I wrote " accent grave" I meant a stress mark for the last syllable and was wrong about the way it is written .

    Ameritude's description
    >>AN (nasal sound halfway between "an" and "in") - SOO (accented, runs into the next sound) - S'y'-ANS-(nasal sound, kind of like "on"+s, but heavier)<<

    is what I was getting at and the way I have always pronounced it except that I put the stress on the "iance" as opposed to the "sou"
    but the stress not being my main issue-]

    American dictionaries give :

    "in" -pronounced as in the first syllable of the word "insight"
    "sou" as in the word "soup"
    "ciance" as the "ience" as in experience

    with a slight stress on the "sou".

    or they give both versions with preference given to what seems like the Americanized version.

    I dug out my French dictionary --
    they pronounce it:
    "ansoucians" with the last syllable accented, a double dot over the "i" and a circumflex over the "a" which appears to me to be ameritide's ( and mine:) pronunciation.

    thanks for the help, it was really the pronunciation of the

    "in" and the "an" that were my issues.
    (now how am I going to tell it to this word perfect actor?:)



    Senior Member
    English - English
    you have two choices. you either teach him the ipa then show him a narrow phonetic transcription of the word OR you do something easier. go and look in the "liens et resources utils" thread (this has been mentioned already) and then you go to pronunciation then you click on the site and you can hear rthe wrod sopken and share it with your friend :)

    Jean-Michel Carrère

    Senior Member
    French from France
    To avoid confusions next time, the stress mark is called l'accent tonique in French. The accent grave (as in è), accent aigu (as in é) and accent circonflexe (as in ê) have nothing to do with stressing patterns in French, but with spelling.
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