More Frenchified?

Mark Mandel Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM
Mon Sep 24 17:08:37 UTC 2001

(For the sake of those who rely on automated message threading I am
resisting the temptation to change the subject line to "You want
Frenchified with that?", or possibly "Frenchific(a)tion".)

     [Rima McKinzey]
>On the phone to the reservation person for the Westin Hotel chain, I
>asked if she knew how one got from the airport to the hotel in
>question.  She said, several times and very clearly, that I'd have to
>talk to the "conseeAIR."
>Could this be because this sounds more French than concierge?  It's a
>new one for me.

     [Larry Horn]
I'm sure it is.  The hyper-Frenchification I've noticed most often is
"COO D'GRAH" for coup de grace.  The rule seems to be "don't
pronounce the last consonant", period.  At least in your case the
reservation person might have had extra motivation for avoiding the
final -rzh cluster, but there's certainly no similar excuse for
avoiding [gras].

As long as I have known her (since 1968) my wife has tended to apply this
rule, which I call "French final consonant deletion". "Coup de gra^ce" ['ku
d@ 'gra] is the instantiation I hear from her most often. I think we can
treat it as a form of hypercorrection.

I know she had at least one incompetent French teacher in high school, but
whatever the cause, she seems to have internalized the French rule
     "a final consonant letter is silent unless it's c,r,f,l, or q"
     "drop the final consonant sound that you think belongs there"
All unconsciously, of course. She knows better, but it's down in her
phonology where she can't grab it and wring its neck.

Some misunderstood form of the actual rule of thumb is (in my totally
wild-guess opinion) probably the best known "fact" of French pronunciation
to Americans, and often the only one.

                  Mark A. Mandel : Senior Linguist
            Dragon Systems, a Lernout & Hauspie company
 320 Nevada St., Newton, MA 02460, USA :
       Personal home page:

More information about the Ads-l mailing list