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I have been hearing many times the pronunciation of La and some other sounds and don't understand yet, is it soft or solid? I don't know how to represent better this sound in English but if you in Ukrainian or Russian it sounds excellent - soft "ля" and solid "ла", you can check it via google translator. So, how does "La", not " L'.. " or "Le", exactly "La" should sound?

  • The categories don't correspond exactly, but I believe it's closer to what you would call a "solid" (or "hard") L. Like in English, the exact articulation can certainly change depending on surrounding sounds. Compare lame, le, lion. – Luke Sawczak Jan 20 at 14:31
  • "ля" and "ла" have somewhat different vowels in Russian, as well as different consonants. Are you sure you're not comparing the vowel of "ля" with La rather than, or in addition to, its consonant? – Peter Shor Jan 21 at 13:59
  • @PeterShor I was talking about the whole word "ла" and how does it sound. But, seems the question is over, "ла" is the way I should pronounce La, as understood – Artur Jan 21 at 16:18
  • Well ... "ла" is certainly much better than "ля", but because of vowel allophony in Russian, neither one of them gives a perfect French pronunciation. The answers just deal with the soft or solid "l" (definitely a solid "l") and not the vowel. – Peter Shor Feb 2 at 15:44
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In French every L is pronounced as what you'd call a solid L.

The google translation vocalization is pretty accurate for the French la.

Note that as a French I've heard many times foreigners mispronounce words, but never la.

  • "La Fontaine" should be pronounced as "Ля Фонтэн" or "Ла Фонтэн" (just listen it via g translator)? – Artur Jan 20 at 16:57
  • 2nd one. As I said, solid L. – Nino Filiu Jan 20 at 17:07
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According to this page, the soft L can be heard in French.

Lèvre IPA [lɛvʁ] is reported to have a hard L and liège IPA [ljɛʒ] a soft L. Effectively, the position of the tongue during the L part is different when we pronounce these words.

The /j/ seems to affect the way the previous L is pronounced, which becomes slightly palatalized (in French, mouillé).

As there is no /j/ in La Fontaine, the /a/ in la then keeps the L hard.

However, Ла Фонтэн is unlikely to perfectly represent the right pronounciation given the fact there are no nasal vowels in Russian (here on is [ɔ̃]), but I guess for Russian ears, identifying this sound is as challenging as for ours dealing with soft and hard consonants.

When I ask GT to say in French "La Fontaine", the L is quite unnatural but more or less acceptable.

When I ask it to pronounce in Russian "ля фонтэн", the L is similar but the a is wrong, sound too close to a French e like Le Fontaine.

When I ask it to pronounce "ла фонтэн", the L is very wrong but the a is closer to the French one.

It's getting more interesting when I ask GT to pronounce :

ла ла ла ля ля ля

Neither of the sequences are really acceptable, and the wider gap affects the vowels. On the other hand, the French la la la la la la is correctly reproducing the standard French pronunciation of the last four "la".

So if I trust GT, I'm afraid the Russian phonology isn't able to come near the French LA sound.

After switching from Russian to Ukrainian, ла ла ла sounds closer to the French pronunciation.

  • The problem is that, if You play the prononciation of "La Fontaine" in French via g translator it will sound exactly as "ля фонтэн". G translator pronounces it not correctly? – Artur Jan 21 at 16:22
  • I'm far to consider them to "exactly" match. See my updated answer. – jlliagre Jan 21 at 20:57
  • Actually there is no difference between "ла" or "ля" in Ukrainian and Russian(don't know why g translator spells it so). Ла sounds 100% same to English LUxury. Seems L in English always hard - love, complain etc – Artur Jan 22 at 15:36

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