Languages with non-Latin script: French transcription

MonsieurAquilone

Senior Member
NZ - English
Hello.

I don't know if this is in the right forum or not but I was wondering if anyone knew anything about pronunciation cues of languages that do not have the Roman alphabet but for French.

For example,

neko = (Japanese) cat but for French people to know how to say it correctly, the 'e' in my opinion my need an acute accent....

Please help.
 
  • 地獄の森_jigoku_no_mori

    Member
    Canadian English :)(Also French)
    That would be incorrect. The 'é' is usually pronounced like 'ee' in 'bee'. There is the odd time when it's sort of close to 'e' in neko, but it's still not quite the same sound. In Japanese it's pronounced like 'ay' in 'cay' but it's a shorter sound.
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    地獄の森_jigoku_no_mori said:
    That would be incorrect. The 'é' is usually pronounced like 'ee' in 'bee'. There is the odd time when it's sort of close to 'e' in neko, but it's still not quite the same sound. In Japanese it's pronounced like 'ay' in 'cay' but it's a shorter sound.
    The French é is never pronounced like the "ee" in "bee". I don't know any Japanese, but according to your description, é might be correct for neko. The é is a sounds something between ay and ee. You can listen to some examples here.
     

    地獄の森_jigoku_no_mori

    Member
    Canadian English :)(Also French)
    Um... yes it is... 'é' is pronounced like the french 'er' ending for verbs. I could correct myself a bit and say that it sounds like our 'ee' but shorter. By the way, I'm exposed to french like 5 days a week, plus I speak the language. Also, in those sounds you can see how 'é' is pronounced very close to our 'ee' in the case of 'été' the first 'é' has less emphasis.
     

    jester.

    Senior Member
    Germany -> German
    Then, if you compare the sounds carefully, you should reach the conclusion that the the French i is much closer to English ee than the French é is.
     

    地獄の森_jigoku_no_mori

    Member
    Canadian English :)(Also French)
    The french 'i' is pronounced close to 'é' in some cases, but the 'i' has more emphasis put on it than the 'é'. For example: 'J'ai lit.' has a silent 't' so 'lit' would be pronounced pretty well the same as if it were spelled 'lé', except the 'i' has more emphasis.
     

    地獄の森_jigoku_no_mori

    Member
    Canadian English :)(Also French)
    I just thought this over a bit, but the 'e' in neko is like the french 'ais'. So for a french reader to know how to pronounce 'neko' right, one would probably spell it 'nais-ko' this would most likely encourage someone french to say "oh, 'ne' sounds like 'nais'" The way one pronounces 'ais' is really to long to sound like 'e' so the sound would have to be shortened.

    I do see how you'd think that 'neko' should be spelled 'néko', considering the fact that most Native-to-English speakers think that 'é' in French is pronounced like we pronounce the 'é' in 'touché' in English.
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    地獄の森_jigoku_no_mori said:
    The french 'i' is pronounced close to 'é' in some cases, but the 'i' has more emphasis put on it than the 'é'. For example: 'J'ai lit.' has a silent 't' so 'lit' would be pronounced pretty well the same as if it were spelled 'lé', except the 'i' has more emphasis.
    I doubt that. I hope the French distinguish between "i" and "é" carefully. I personally do so. In German, there are almost the same sounds (I must admit that the German "i" is not pronounced exactly like the French one, though): i/ie and e/ee/eh.

    We can differentiate pretty well between "fehlen" and "vielen" (f and v sound the same) in German. In French it is the same with "ni" and "né". I'd never say "Je suis ni en 1966", for instance. ;)
     

    linguist786

    Senior Member
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    地獄の森_jigoku_no_mori said:
    Maybe you didn't read my post, but I said 'i' has more emphasis on it than 'é'.
    Yes, but I still don't agree. I agree with Whodunnit.

    What you're saying is that the french "é" and "i" are the same but with "less emphasis" on the "i" - this is not true. If that was the case, the examples given by Whodunnit would sound the same (well, with more emphasis on the "i" as you say)

    "Je suis né" and "Je suis ni" are quite different.

    "né" is pronounced "nay" or "neigh" (sound that horses make!) but "ni" is pronounced more like "knee" (knee on leg)

    But then again, maybe Canadian French is different?
     

    地獄の森_jigoku_no_mori

    Member
    Canadian English :)(Also French)
    'né' is not pronounced 'nay' in either Canadian or France French(I do know a person from France), it's like 'nee' with ever so little 'ay' at the end(it's like 'nee' but very nasal) where saying 'neigh' would sound really weird... in either French. Canadian French is actually has more 'ay' in it than France French because of how much it's around English. There's really no English equivalent, though... it's just a sound that can't quite be described, but learned through sound.
     

    vince

    Senior Member
    English
    The IPA transcription for né is [ne], which would indicate that it is indeed pronounced like English "nay" minus the tiny "i" sound English-speakers add to the end. ni is [ni], pronounced like "nee".
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    地獄の森_jigoku_no_mori said:
    'né' is not pronounced 'nay' in either Canadian or France French(I do know a person from France), it's like 'nee' with ever so little 'ay' at the end(it's like 'nee' but very nasal) where saying 'neigh' would sound really weird... in either French. Canadian French is actually has more 'ay' in it than France French because of how much it's around English. There's really no English equivalent, though... it's just a sound that can't quite be described, but learned through sound.
    How can "nee" be pronounced nasally? Vowels like à, o, or è can be pronounced nasally, if an "n" or "m" (or whatever) follows. The "é" however has no nasal equivalent. Some French pronounce the nasalized é in words like "parfum", instead of the nasalized "œ" (other examples are brun and lundi).

    Listen to this sound (é). This one can't be described with a less emphasized "i".


    To Linguist: My nickname read Whodunit. ;)
     

    Flaminius

    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    As long as one is trying to use a limited number of Japanese words in a foreign text, I don't think a standard transcription matters more than the orthography of the foreign language in question. If French readers are likely to find "néko" more closely representing the original pronunciation, I can see no reason why "neko" should be preferred.

    übermönch said:
    Isn't Romaji the only correct/official way of transcription?
    Romaji simply means Japanese texts as transcribed using Latin alphabet. There are several methods for transcription but none of them has the definite official status. A Wikipedia article can be referred to for the details of each method.

    I would like to discuss why I find Kunrei-shiki (ISO 3602) and Nihon-shiki (ISO 3602 Strict) deplorably insufficient but that would be out of the scope for this thread. Anyway, they are the two biggest shame of ISO.
     

    地獄の森_jigoku_no_mori

    Member
    Canadian English :)(Also French)
    Originally posted by Whodunit
    How can "nee" be pronounced nasally? Vowels like à, o, or è can be pronounced nasally, if an "n" or "m" (or whatever) follows. The "é" however has no nasal equivalent. Some French pronounce the nasalized é in words like "parfum", instead of the nasalized "œ" (other examples are brun and lundi).

    Listen to this sound (é). This one can't be described with a less emphasized "i".


    To Linguist: My nickname read Whodunit. ;)
    Well I guess it's not quite nasal, but it's as best as I could describe the sound, because 'neigh' is such an off pronounciation of 'é'. Anyway, the fact is that French is a different language from english, meaning that some sounds just aren't possible to replicate in english, you just need to learn them by hearing them, like I did. :)

    Also, if you listen to that over exaggurated 'é' you can sort of hear the 'ee' sound which I described.

    One last question before I stop posting in this thread; are any of you native speakers of French or are exposed to it on a daily basis?
     
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