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The definition of a nasal vowel is

A nasal vowel is a vowel that is produced with a lowering of the velum so that air escapes both through nose as well as the mouth.

For French nasal sounds, how much does escape through the nose and through the mouth? For me the easiest is to let 100% of the air escape through the nose, although I think that this way the vowels sound alike; I think that they would be more discernible if the ratio was about 50% nose / 50% mouth, which is harder to achieve.

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La phonation se fait au début à 0% par le nez, puis au fur et à mesure que la langue se place pour prononcer la consonne, l'air est de plus en plus expiré par le nez.

En fin de nasalisation, c'est 100% par le nez.

Au théâtre, on peut prolonger cette nasalisation pour placer la voix dans le masque (amener la vibration au niveau des lèvres, que l'on ouvre ensuite pour que la voie porte jusqu'au dernier rang).


Phonation is not done through the nose at the beginning, but as the tongue gets into place to pronounce the consonant, the air is increasingly exhaled through the nose. At the end of the process, it's entirely done through the nose.

Actors can extend nasalization by bringing the vibration to the level of the lips which are then opened so that the voice is carried right to the back of the theatre. In French professional actors and singers call this placer la voix dans le masque.

  • Sorry, I don't understand French, otherwise I would have asked in French. Although I think that the line "c'est 100% par le nez" means "100% for the nose". – Vagabond Nov 4 '14 at 16:48
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The essential thing with nasal vowels is that the access from mouth cavity to nasal cavity is open. This gives the effect of nasality. The question how much air goes through the nasal passage and the mouth is irrelevant for a speaker and he does not influence this actively. When the passage from mouth cavity to nasal cavity is open the flow of air stream happens automatically and no speaker takes any active influence on the flow of air stream.

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It depends how you create the vowels,against to what many linguists say,and the ipa vowel CHART Trapezium ,you can create all the vowel sounds without moving your tongue ,or simply moving it to better enunciate and identify similar vowels(but it's not necessary ,if you aim the voice at different positions along the length of your face ,this way you'll be creating different shades of tone,the same way you would when placing your tongue in different positions ,with the aiming vowels method you can have 100% of the sound coming out of your nose and still have vowel distinction as clear as it gets.From a singing point of view this kills tension nearly to the full.

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