7

I heard the sentence “je suis desolé” read by a native audio program flashcard app as just “je–suis–désolé”, but then I listened to another one with “suis” in it: “je suis américain” and am I dreaming or is there a slur like “je–swiss–américain” as if the suis is slurred? I tried to find another way to confirm online but I couldn't. On my Ivona Text-to-Speech app there is no slur in the sentence “je suis américain”. Which one is accurate?

  • I have heard certain French learning programs (duolingo during it's French beta) create liaisons where there shouldn't be any. Example: "Je suis francophone" had a liaison, and it definitely should not. Some of these programs, especially those that involve automated speech, aren't very reliable in this aspect. – Patrick Sebastien Jul 13 '13 at 23:19
7

As you may know, in French some letters are silent when they are at the end of a word, for example "s", "t", "d" and "p" (this is what I was taught when I was young).

So, the word depot is pronounced as if the final t were not there, and the same happens with suis, il entend et coup, just to give you a few examples.

However, because of the thing called liaison, when a word ending in "s" is followed by another word starting with a vowel, the consonant is slightly pronounced and for this reason you say "Je sui- zAméricain" as much as you say "Je sui- zItalien", or "Je sui- zEspagnol".

EDIT

I forgot to add another frequent expression where you need to create such a liaison, that is pas encore.

  • So, it is obligatory to slur it? Is there a choice? I just looked up the phrase "je suis américain" in the Rocket German lessons and it's not slurred. So, is it a choice? – verve Jul 13 '13 at 15:24
  • @verve. As far as I know, everybody slurs it and it's not a choice, it comes spontaneously. I don't know what Rocket German lessons is, however in my experience you link words ending in "s" to words starting with a vowel. If you didn't, it would sound very bizarre indeed. – Paola Jul 13 '13 at 16:48
  • +1 Saying « Je sui- zAméricain » will make you sound like a fluent speaker. Although splitting words like « je sui - américain » will make you sound like an american learning french. – Thibault Sep 20 '16 at 7:58
  • All the above is true, except that a native french could say it without the liaison and noone would notice. Most of us would even pronounce "chui américain" while talking naturally, which is however definitely not the academic way. – Emmanuel BRUNO Oct 8 '17 at 17:18
5

Yes - there is. The s at the end of "suis" liaise with the a at the beginning of américain. You should pronounce it "Je sui-zaméricain", with a Z sound.

You would not have a liaison in "Je suis désolé", since the first letter after the s of "suis" is not a vowel. The s would then be silent.

  • So, s endings are always pronounced with a Z sound if the next letter is a vowel? – verve Jul 13 '13 at 15:25
  • I think so (I'm French). – Frank Jul 14 '13 at 3:52

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