In French lyric diction (poetry and art song), is the first vowel in "faisons" /œ/, as it is in everyday pronunciation?


1 Answer 1


[fə.zɔ̃] is the usual pronunciation in France. Faire has a highly irregular pronunciation. The letters ai are pronounced /ə/ in:

  • the nous form of the present indicative.
  • all the forms in the imperfect indicative.

In this other answer @Gilles explains that this strange pronunciation might have its origin in the fact that in the 17th century, the people in Paris wrongly pronounced the present participle [fə.zɑ̃] and this pronunciation spread to those other forms, and outside Paris.

I gather in France the vast majority of people will pronounce [fə] and not [fœ]. I could not say about other French speaking countries.

I wanted to refer you to an online pronunciation of the verb and hit upon this one which sounds entirely wrong to me. If you listen to the one on Wiktionary you will get it right.

  • Sorry to cause /œ/ vs. /ə/ confusion. When singing art song, we generally transcribe as /œ/, since the vowel is sustained when you sing. My question was really whether the /ə/ in "faisons" is perhaps a casual alternative to /ɛ/ and therefore not used in lyric diction (just as final "-e" is not pronounced in casual speech but gives an entire additional syllable when you sing, unless elided), or whether the first syllable is immutably /fə/ (and therefore sung /fœ/)? Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 11:16
  • Re your first audio link, I strongly suspect "Lauren" (who provided the audio) may not be Francophone - to my ears her pronunciation of "vous faites" also sounds distinctly British... Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 11:20
  • @Counterpoise In France pronouncing /ɛ/ would definitely not be not be an alternative. But artistic licence probably allows to move away from the vernacular?
    – None
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 11:26
  • Great, that definitely decides it! As a non-Francophone I don't have the necessary instincts, that's what I needed to tap into. Just to intrigue you further, the singers' transcription will therefore be /fœ zõ/, though I'm not at all sure why we are taught that phoneme as /õ/ rather than /ɔ̃/... Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 12:26

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