jeudi 22 mars 2007
It has taken me a long time of listening to French speakers, but I have finally gained the ability to hear whether someone is speaking with an accent or not. Alain is pretty accent-less. When I first arrived, he would ask me when we saw someone on TV from Belgium or something "Do you hear how he has an accent?" What, are you kidding? I can barely distinguish one WORD from another, much less whether they have an accent. Seriously, I couldn't tell a Senegalese from a Parisienne. It all sounded like a mish mash of mush mouth. Now I can tell that they speak vaguely different. Why is it that all Southern accents get made fun of? You could be Siberian and speak with a Southern Siberian accent and the Northern Siberians would make fun of you. Here in the South the tendency is to really emphasize the last letters of words. For example: petite (small). Puh-teet. But here, they emphasize the final E- puh-tee-tuh. Baguette becomes bah-ge-tuh. I suppose I am developing this trait, not because of any lingering southern loyalties but because of a) hearing it around me and b) having learned french in school, you know how it is written. And I think Americans usually will pronounce, or try to at least, all letters.
Speaking in French, I have a really hard time with the r sound. Like quatre (4) ca-tre and trois (3) t-wa. The worst is giving our phone number over the phone- it ends in 33- trente trois. Many times the person on the other side thinks I am saying 43- quarante trois. No! Twa Twa!
At least I don't say neuf (9) like noof anymore. It rhymes with snuff.
I can't really hear my accent when I am speaking of course, but hate hearing myself on recordings. Our answering machine is me speaking in English. Whenever I hear Americans or English people speaking French, I cringe in embarassment. I don't sound like THAT do I? Short answer- yeah, you do.
No surprise that people often ask me if I am English. I suppose all anglophones sound similar in French. At least English is considered one of the cute foreign accents, not trashy or low-class.

2 commentaires:

Starman a dit…

Interesting post. My partner can distinguish between northern and southern France (other countries also) but like you, it all sounds the same to me. Another interesting thing, is that in Toulouse, no one ever questioned me when I said "rue" like they did in Paris and Lyon. And we were constantly being mistaken for English, which (because of a certain being in the White House) we sometimes said we were.

Mlle Smith a dit…

I wonder if I'm able to distinguish? I know the accent in the south of France sounds a lot thicker to me than the Parisian accent, for example. But, I don't know how people in the east or west of France sound, so I really cannot compare well...

I let Olivier talk to my friend and my friend screamed, "he sounds REALLY FRENCH!!" I think it's because the southern French accent is probably closer to the "stereotypical" Frenchie accent we see in movies and cartoons in the US.

That "twa, twa!" part was too funny. :0)

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