Andre Franquin and my mispronunciations

Episode #81: Mispronounce All the Things

I received a comment recently that made fun of the way I pronounced a Belgian creators’ name. It made me think about pronunciations. For as hard as I try to get it right, I’m always fighting my natural American accent instincts…

One quick correction to this episode: The hockey player’s name I was thinking of was Mark Messier. It’s not the same as Jean-Claude Mézières. But it’s close!

Learning French: I’m using DuoLingo for learning French. I recently extended my stream past the 757 day mark. C’est magnifique!

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4 Comments

  1. It is perfectly OK NOT to say a French word with a French accent when speaking in English. Even when you speak perfect French, it’s jarring. I say English words in a French accent when talking in French and vice versa. It totally interrupts the flow of conversation otherwise. In Spanish it’s even more pronounced: JAIME Bond instead of James Bond, Caballo Blanco instead of White Horse (alcohol), U-DOS instead of U2…

    1. Agreed, it’s not only okay, it’s better. More natural.
      Forcing American/British pronunciation/accent for proper names and places amongst a french phrase/context makes french-canadian dub of US movies immediately recognizable, as opposed to TrueFrench.
      Coming from French people, in a non-international context, it’s a snobbish affectation, sounds very pedantic and would have you perceived as a clueless jerk, as you demonstrated with your spanish example.
      But of course ‘french’ pronunciation has its quirks too. We pronounce ‘FBI’ the american way but for ‘CIA’ we go ‘Say-ee-Ah’, as if it’s a french acronym, go figure. Eminent linguists have written tomes on this.
      You can keep saying Pariss instead of Paree, Broh-selzz instead of Bru-sell, we won’t hold it against you.
      Compared to your typical yank, you’re doing pretty good.
      Ignore this commenter, he has no business lecturing you on this. You’re not Jodie Foster. You’ll never get Franquin totally right since those phonemes don’t exist in english, you’d have to retrain your whole tongue/palate to get a proper french ‘U’ sound instead of ‘oo’. Don’t bother. It’s kind of cute anyway and we appreciate the efforts you’re already making, combing youtube videos to hear how words sound over here (notwithstanding the fact that belgian pronunciation sometimes differs from french too… That would be overkill).
      Main difference between english and french is not the pronunciation, it’s that French has no tonic accent, each syllable should be pronounced on the same level, only allowing inflection at the end if it’s interrogative, ironic, sarcastic, etc to mark intent.
      And vice versa for french people trying to speak english properly, the tonic accent on the proper syllables makes all the difference to be understood, no need to speak like the Queen.
      Your Go-sci-nny is pretty good, your U-der-zo acceptable, don’t sweat it. You can emphasize the ‘S’ on deS-Sinée instead of deZinée, but that’s really a minor quibble, really.