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I heard the sentence “je suis desolé” read by a native audio program flashcard app as just “je–suis–désolé”, but then I listened to another one with “suis” in it: “je suis américain” and am I dreaming or is there a slur like “je–swiss–américain” as if the suis is slurred? I tried to find another way to confirm online but I couldn't. On my Ivona Text-to-Speech app there is no slur in the sentence “je suis américain”. Which one is accurate?

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I have heard certain French learning programs (duolingo during it's French beta) create liaisons where there shouldn't be any. Example: "Je suis francophone" had a liaison, and it definitely should not. Some of these programs, especially those that involve automated speech, aren't very reliable in this aspect. – Patrick Sebastien Jul 13 '13 at 23:19
up vote 5 down vote accepted

As you may know, in French some letters are silent when they are at the end of a word, for example "s", "t", "d" and "p" (this is what I was taught when I was young).

So, the word depot is pronounced as if the final t were not there, and the same happens with suis, il entend et coup, just to give you a few examples.

However, because of the thing called liaison, when a word ending in "s" is followed by another word starting with a vowel, the consonant is slightly pronounced and for this reason you say "Je sui- zAméricain" as much as you say "Je sui- zItalien", or "Je sui- zEspagnol".


I forgot to add another frequent expression where you need to create such a liaison, that is pas encore.

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So, it is obligatory to slur it? Is there a choice? I just looked up the phrase "je suis américain" in the Rocket German lessons and it's not slurred. So, is it a choice? – verve Jul 13 '13 at 15:24
@verve. As far as I know, everybody slurs it and it's not a choice, it comes spontaneously. I don't know what Rocket German lessons is, however in my experience you link words ending in "s" to words starting with a vowel. If you didn't, it would sound very bizarre indeed. – Paola Jul 13 '13 at 16:48

Yes - there is. The s at the end of "suis" liaise with the a at the beginning of américain. You should pronounce it "Je sui-zaméricain", with a Z sound.

You would not have a liaison in "Je suis désolé", since the first letter after the s of "suis" is not a vowel. The s would then be silent.

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So, s endings are always pronounced with a Z sound if the next letter is a vowel? – verve Jul 13 '13 at 15:25
I think so (I'm French). – Frank Jul 14 '13 at 3:52

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