Collins dictionary says that "panneau" is pronounced [pano] and "art" [aʁ]. However, the [a] in "panneau" does not sound like the [a] in art, but rather more nasal. Am I listening that right? If so, why is the nasal sound of "panneau" not represented in the phonemic/phonetic transcription provided by French dictionaries?

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    Well, not an answer because it's just my personal experience but I don't see any difference in the 2 [a]. However, the pronunciation is a difficult subject in French (as in a lot of languages I guess) because people from 2 regions can tell a word in 2 different way. So maybe it's the same for me but not for 20% or maybe 80% of France.
    – JackRed
    Jul 1, 2019 at 4:28

3 Answers 3


The widespread pronunciation is [pano] with no nasalisation. You might hear [panɔ] in eastern France, but this is unrelated to your question.

A non native speaker might hear a slight kind of nasalization at the end of the vowel a due to the transition to a nasal consonant. This is probably what you experienced but native French ears cannot hear it, or at least won't assimilate it to a nasalization.

There is an exception about this lack of nasalization but it doesn't really apply to panneau. It is the pronunciation used by a few people, generally old, from the Occitanie region (e.g. Toulouse, Montpellier) who might still nasalize the sequence an or am before an n or a m leading to [ɑ̃n] (or better [ɑ̃n.n]) instead of the usual [an]. This used to be the standard French pronunciation before this nasalisation disappeared a few centuries ago.

For example, grammaire and grand-mère used to be pronounced identically.

— Veux-tu toute ta vie offenser la grammaire ?
— Qui parle d'offenser grand'mère ni grand'père ?

Molière, Les femmes savantes, acte II, scène 6, 1672.

And this might still be the case with some native speakers:


Another typical example is année sometimes pronounced [ɑ̃n.ne] instead of [ane].

With panneau, you might hear rares [panno] is southern France, but [pɑ̃n.no] is not expected.

  • Tu interpoles à partir du cas de « grammaire » ? Parce que s'il existe, le cas de [pɑ̃.no] est surement beaucoup plus rare. Une gémination sans nasalisation par contre c'est bien possible. Jul 1, 2019 at 15:48
  • @stéphaneGimenez Non, j'ai connu quelqu'un qui prononçait tous les "ann" comme ça. C'était par exemple manifeste avec année.
    – jlliagre
    Jul 1, 2019 at 16:30
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    Oui « année » aussi, je suis familier avec ça (natif de Toulouse), mais « panneau » ça m'étonne plus (je ne parle pas de la légère nasalisation naturelle qui précède les n). Je vois tout aussi mal quelqu'un prononcer « anneau » avec une nasalisation. Jul 1, 2019 at 16:52
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    @StéphaneGimenez Tu as raison, je me suis en effet un peu trop avancé. La nasalisation n'a pas vraiment de justification pour panneau ou anneau, les mots occitans correspondant ne doublant pas le n (panèl, anèl).
    – jlliagre
    Jul 1, 2019 at 23:03

The two are pronounced the same. The nasal sound might come from the double 'n', but that's beyond my expertise (and the question).

Reference : french is my mother tongue.

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    I wouldn't use french is my mother tongue as a reference, since it may be right here, but what if someone ask for rose ? Or lait ? I mean, I always said these words the same way, but some region in France doesn't have the same pronunciation. And there's one twhich is written in valid (written somewhere) and the other which because of the accent of the region. What if you're in the region that pronounce it bad and think it's the same while in reality it's not supposed to be.
    – JackRed
    Jul 1, 2019 at 9:15
  • @JackRed I agree with most of your comment but I wouldn't use bad or (in)valid about regional pronunciation. They are just different. A bad/invalid pronunciation is one that doesn't follow any native French standard (thus saying \art\ for art is invalid). "Accent-less" (note the quotes) Parisian French is just another regional variation as far as linguistics are concerned. Unlike the orthography, the pronunciation present in dictionaries is more informative than prescriptive.
    – jlliagre
    Jul 1, 2019 at 10:13
  • @jlliagre yeah I understand. I put bad and valid in emphasis because I didn't know what term to use (it's not really visible nor understandable tho, quotes are better). I though that dictionaries pronunciation was more prescriptive than informative, thanks for the information
    – JackRed
    Jul 1, 2019 at 10:28
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    I see what you meant, I was referring to french "neutral" accent (which admittedly isn't formally defined as far as i know) Jul 1, 2019 at 11:11
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    @AlanEvangelista: In many languages (English, for one) vowels which are before a nasal consonant sometimes acquire a slight nasalization. Even if this is happening with that pronunciation example of panneau, it is much less than the phonemic nasalization of pain or pense. And French speakers clearly don't hear it, so you can ignore it. Jul 1, 2019 at 15:54

Petite vidéo avec les deux prononciations.


  • 1
    Bonjour ! Pourrais-tu stp. préciser, s'agit-il de deux prononciations distinctes ou des deux mots prononcés ?
    – user19187
    Jul 1, 2019 at 17:57
  • 1
    Bonjour, Non, il s'agit de la même prononciation pour le "a".
    – Gwen Brd
    Jul 1, 2019 at 22:34
  • @GwenBrd modifie ta réponse pour inclure ton commentaire.
    – aloisdg
    Jul 2, 2019 at 11:50

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