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Lesson Transcript

Virginie: Bonjour!
Eric: Eric here. Liaisons. So what is our focus today Virginie?

Lesson focus

Virginie: Today we will talk about liaisons in French.
Eric: Liaisons are one of the reasons why spoken French can be difficult to understand.
Virginie: Yes but first things first. You all probably wonder what is a liaison.
Eric: A liaison is a process of pronouncing the final consonant of a word when it’s followed by another word beginning with a vowel.
Virginie: Confusing. Okay let me give you an example here. Take a word that ends with a consonant such as...
Eric: What about “petit”?
Virginie: “Petit” is good.
Eric: Now “petit” means small spelled p-e-t-i-t but notice we are saying “petit”. You don’t hear the t at the end.
Virginie: Right and now place the word “arbre” right after “petit”.
Eric: “Arbre” means tree. So we are saying a small tree. This is spelled a-r-b-r-e.
Virginie: So you have “petit” followed by “arbre”. Listen carefully. Petit arbre.
Eric: The sound t sort of comes to life in “petit”. Petit arbre.
Virginie: That was the basics. Let’s go a little more in depth.
Eric: French liaisons will have no more secrets for you guys.
Virginie: Yeah and you will understand why French language sounds so musical.
Eric: There are two main types of liaisons in French. What are they?
Virginie: The first type are mandatory liaisons.
Eric: Mandatory. Sounds scary.
Virginie: And then the second category is forbidden liaisons.
Eric: So we are going to start off with the mandatory liaisons.
Virginie: Okay let’s go.
Eric: C’est parti! In what cases do we link the final consonant with the vowel of the next word?
Virginie: Well you do that when your two words make a verbal group.
Eric: And these are the mandatory liaisons because it’s a group that we are forming.
Virginie: For example in “vous avez” which means you have “vous” v-o-u-s is you and “avez” a-v-e-z is have.
Eric: Notice that the s at the end of “vous” is pronounced when used with liaison.
Virginie: Vous avez.
Eric: Now a second case of mandatory liaison is when the two words are an article and a noun.
Virginie: Yes for example “un arbre” the tree. “Un” u-n is the article and “arbre” a-r-b-r-e is the noun.
Eric: Right. So what we are saying here is “a tree”. It’s making a logical unit together . Un arbre. The n is now going to be pronounced.
Virginie: And our third case of mandatory liaison is when your two words are an adjective followed by a noun.
Eric: Like in our earlier example “petit arbre” small tree.
Virginie: Yes. Here the liaison is between the t at the end of “petit” and the vowel a at the beginning of “arbre”.
Eric: And our fourth case is when there is a number followed by a noun.
Virginie: As in “trois arbres”: “trois”, t-r-o-i-s means three and “arbre” which you know means “tree”.
Eric: Again, they are forming a unit of three trees. So you are going to pronounce “trois arbres”.
Virginie: Okay. Then it’s going to get a little more grammatical here. You will have to link all single syllable preposition.
Eric: Prepositions are the small words that introduce a phrase.
Virginie: When followed by a vowel make a liaison.
Eric: For example, the conjunction “quand” q-u-a-n-d, “when” has to be linked if a vowel follows.
Virginie: And so does the preposition “chez” c-h-e-z which means “at”.
Eric: Finally there are good amount of fixed expressions that use the liaisons as well.
Virginie: Like in: tout-à-fait.
Eric: Right. Tout-à-fait. Absolutely.
Virginie: Yes that actually means “absolutely” and although it sounds like a single word, it’s three words linked together, “tout à fait” . Let me spell “tout à fait” for you guys, t-o-u-t-dash-a accent grave-dash-f-a-i-t and the liaison is between the t at the end of “tout” and the “a”, second word.
Eric: “Tout” would usually be pronounced without the t because we have the vowels following it, it’s “tout à fait”.
Virginie: Right. Okay I think we covered most of the liaisons you have to make if you want to make sense when speaking French.
Eric: So that’s the list of the mandatory liaisons that you have to know. Instead of hearing a long phrase when a native speaker speaks, you will start to hear individual words.
Virginie: Yeah and that’s wonderful. Now we need to specify some little details regarding the sounds of some of the consonants when they link.
Eric: For example, the letter s when you are making a liaison, it’s going to sound more like a “z” “trois arbres” three trees, “trois arbres”.
Virginie: And then the letter d when linked will sound like “t” and not “d”. For example, in the following liaison, “quand il” which means “when he”. Quand il.
Eric: Great. I think that’s about it for the required liaisons. Let’s go on to the forbidden liaisons.
Virginie: Well you know, that’s the trick with French language. Either you don’t link when you should or you link when you shouldn’t.
Eric: Okay we are going to give you some tips to make sure you don’t link when you are not supposed to. So the general rule you are going to want to follow is that there is no liaison for an adjective that follows a singular noun. For example:
Virginie: In “le chat anglais”.
Eric: Which means “the British cat”.
Virginie: Right and it’s spelled c-h-a-t blank a-n-g-l-a-i-s
Eric: Le chat anglais. You will notice that the T sound after “chat” is not pronounced.
Virginie: And another case of forbidden liaison is a word put right after the little word “et” e-t which means...
Eric: And. For example, the phrase “un homme et une femme”. You are not going to have a liaison between the word “et” and the word “une” for “une femme”. There is no T sound, it’s going to be an “et”.


Eric: Great. So that just about does it for today.
Virginie: Yeah thank you all for listening. Okay bye. Au revoir!
Eric: Goodbye.