I have come across the following sentence lately:

Je mets fin à un conflit.

How am I supposed to pronounce ɛ̃ (fin), a (à) and œ̃ (un) after one another? Is there a way to go about it? Should I fuse the first one with the second or the second with the last one or all of the three? It's highly confusing for me as a beginner.

  • 1
    It's not been mentioned in the answers, but for most of France (and possibly other French speaking countries), we don't make a difference between "in" and "un". I personally would say "/ɛ̃aɛ̃/" here. If you're learning France French, you can skip all phonems from this chart with a (†) before them (I hope Belgian people won't kill me for saying that). – Teleporting Goat Jun 11 at 8:04
  • @TeleportingGoat A large part of France but not most of it. The difference is still made in the former Langue d'oc and Franco-Provençal area, which cover more than one third of France territory. – jlliagre Jun 14 at 13:02
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    @jlliagre: Ça m'a plutot l'air d'être moitié-moitié francaisdenosregions.com/tag/brin – Stéphane Gimenez Jun 14 at 15:31
  • @StéphaneGimenez Oui, un peu plus d'un tiers. Ce qui est notable, c'est que la plupart des gens de la zone qui ne fait pas de distinction est incapable de produire le son et même de percevoir la différence entre "in" et "on". – jlliagre Jun 14 at 15:52

There is usually a very slight pause between fin and à un conflit but all these vowels might be also pronounced in a row.

In poetry, hiatus tend to be avoided but in regular prose/speech, French has no problem with successive vowels, whether nasalized or not.

For example, the sentence:

Tu as en haut un houx aérien.

has eight successive phonetic vowels /ty a ɑ̃ o œ̃ u aerjɛ̃/ but can be nevertheless easily pronounced by any native French person.

Here is another one that could technically be heard in a primary school:

Haie a un A, un I et un E et eau a un E un A et un U qui se suivent.

/ɛ a œ̃ a œ̃ i e œ̃ ə e o a œ̃ ə œ̃ a œ̃ y kisəsɥiv/

Nineteen phonetic vowels...

  • I mean, that is absolutely horrifying! in Hungarian, we have words like "fiaiéié" (vowel-collision) or "megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért" (too long word) but these ones with their own special pronounciations are the worst! – Marcus Jun 10 at 20:00
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    actually, this is the best answer I have ever got on any SE site. it made me laugh so hard. thank you! – Marcus Jun 10 at 20:01
  • It seems Hungarian can even coin fiaiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiéiért ... ;-) – jlliagre Jun 10 at 20:10
  • yes, but it is something that will never be said. – Marcus Jun 10 at 20:14

You can't pronounce that too fast; use the indicated sounds, taking care to pronounce each nasal vowel fully so as to avoid blurred sounds; it's difficult for natives too as the usual distribution of sounds in French is based on the principle of having a consonant sound between any two vowel sounds.

There is no other way, no adition of phantom consonants, no fusion.

  • 1
    That would be great to add some reference regarding the statement: “French is based on the principle of having a consonant sound between any two vowel sounds.” It is a first for me, and I could probably find hundreds of individual words that have two vowel sounds in a row. – Montée de lait Jun 10 at 17:16
  • @Montéedelait True, it would be better if this statement were supplemented with a reference; unfortunately, I can't get back at the source where I got that. Anyway, that's mostly true and the theory of liaisons is such that it tends to introduce these missing consonants between words (un navion, deux zétangs, …). – LPH Jun 10 at 17:31

While maintaining the nasal vowel, the n in fin can be liaised with à. As is normal when there is no consonant to provide a liaison and the second word does not start with an aspirated h, you can introduce a glottal stop between the words: à'un. (In English we tend to introduce a y sound. Do not do this in French!)

By the way, the English word is pronunciation, not pronounciation.

  • 2
    You can't liaise here. – Stéphane Gimenez Jun 14 at 15:20
  • You can't liaise here because there's no liaison after singular nouns (except in a few fixed expressions like fait accompli, where I assume it's left over from days when there was liaison after nouns). – Peter Shor Jun 18 at 13:46
  • My apology; my mistake. I thought 'fin' was one of those exceptions. – Harry Audus Jun 20 at 0:34
  • Actually, looking on the web, there are some sites that list fin as an exception. But I don't believe it is in current-day French. – Peter Shor Jul 4 at 21:17

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