Page images

V. LIAISON (joining of words in Pronunciation).

It has been seen (p. 4) that in dividing a word into syllables, a final consonant, though etymologically belonging to the preceding syllable, is drawn over to the vowel of the next syllable; thus- inutile is divided into-i-nu-ti-le.

As with syllables so with words: i.e. the final consonant of a word, followed by another word beginning with a vowel or silent h, is, in pronunciation, treated as the initial consonant of the next word.

N.B.-In liaison, s and x are always softened into z, f into v; whilst d is hardened into t (but not in sud and nord), and g into k: as,

Ils ont admiré,


Neuf ans, lon-kespoir.

= II-zon-tadmiré.
Long espoir,


Let it, however, be distinctly understood from the outset that this liaison only holds good in the case of words closely connected: as,

(a) Article and Noun :-les_amis; mes habits; des arbres.

(b) Adjective and Noun: ces oranges; mes âmes; cinq heures ; petit homme; cher enfant; grand_avantage.

N.B.-Less frequently between Noun and Adjective :—

accent aigu; l'onde amère.

(c) Pers. Pronoun and Verb:-ils ont; nous allons; vous habitez ; viennent-ils? croit-on ? je vous ai dit.

(d) Auxiliary and Past Part. :-Nous avons aimé.

(e) Verb and Complement :—Il est avocat. Elles sont à plaindre. Vous êtes habiles.

(f) Adverb and Verb or Adjective :—bien écrit; beaucoup à faire; fort_aise; rien oublié.

(g) Preposition and its Complement:-chez eux; depuis un an; avec elles. (h) Compound Words :-arc-en-ciel; vingt-huit; sud-est.

N.B.-The t of et is never drawn over.

Nasal Sounds are materially weakened by the application of liaison, though not to the same extent as in the composition of words; for whilst in uniforme, honneur, for instance, the nasal sound, on account of the following vowel, altogether disappears, it still asserts itself between

(a) Indef. Art. and Noun :-un homme; un âne.

(b) Posses. Adj. and Noun :-mon_ami; ton_habit.

(c) Qualif. Adj. and Noun :--ancien élève ; bon ordre.

(d) bien and Adj., Adv., or Verb :-bien aimable; bien élevé.

But no liaison is admissible between a Noun ending in a nasal sound and the next word :Le pain est un aliment.

No hard-and-fast rules can, however, be laid down for the appropriate application of liaisons. The whole question being essentially one of euphony, it need hardly be added that liaison must be carefully avoided whenever its application would tend to defeat its own purpose. Even in lecture à haute voix it must be used with great judgment; whilst in colloquial language its lavish use is considered pedantic.


[blocks in formation]


(a) List of Substantives NOT USED IN THE SINGULAR:

les alentours,

les ancêtres,


[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

see § 97),

archives, record


[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

And thus all words ending in -ailles [Lat. -alia]: as, les entrailles, entrails; fiançailles, betrothal.

(b) List of Nouns of FOREIGN ORIGIN which do not change in the PLURAL :les accessit,* amen, avé, confitéor, crédo, crescendo ;

les déficit,* exeat, magnificat, pater, quatuor,* satisfécit.


Observation 1.-Those marked are also written with an s in the Plural. Observation 2.—Thus also compound foreign Nouns :-les auto-da-fé, les infolio, etc.

Observation 3.-Carbonaro, condottiere, dilettante, lazzarone (Ital.), change the final vowel into i.

Maximum, minimum (Lat.), in technical language, change um into a. Lady, tory, generally conform to the English- ladies, tories (also torys). Observation 4.-A few have both in the Sing. and Plur., the Plural form of the language from which they are respectively derived :—

Les concetti, les lazzi (Ital.); Les duplicata, les errata (Latin).

(c) Substantives DIFFERING IN MEANING in the SING. and the PLURAL :

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]


proceedings (law),

intrigues, observances, writing-tablets, troops, forces, breeches (fig. heels), vacations,

night labours.

Most of these are also used in the Plural with the same meaning as in the Singular.


(a) Nouns which take -sse [esse = Lat. -issa] in the FEMININE :—

[blocks in formation]

* If used adjectively, those marked * remain unchanged in the Fem.

(b) Nouns which form their Feminine by changing their ending -eur into -eresse (i.e. ĕr-esse instead of eur-esse; the tonic accent falling on esse, the accented eur is weakened into unaccented er; cp. je viens, n. venons, etc, see § 93).

[blocks in formation]

(c) Nouns which form their Feminine in -ice, -ante, -ine, -elle, -e, etc. : in most cases with alteration of the Stem :

Le chanteur, singer, la cantatrice; professional singer.



la chanteuse, amateur singer. l'impératrice; le procureur,

duckling, la canette.


le gouverneur,

governor, la gouvernante; le serviteur,


la procuratrice.

la servante

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

le compagnon,

companion, la compagne; le caneton,

[blocks in formation]

(d) Names of Persons and Animals which differ RADICALLY in the


l'homme, man; la femme, woman. le garçon,1 boy:

le mari, husband; la femme, wife. monsieur, Mr., Sir, madame, Mrs. etc.;

le père, father;

l'oncle, uncle;

la fille, girl.

la tante, aunt.

le gendre, son-in- la bru, daughter-

[blocks in formation]

le frère, brother; la sœur, sister.

la marraine, godmother.

1 la garce is only used in a bad sense.


[blocks in formation]

Observation 1.-Many names of living beings have no special forms to denote their sex, and are either masc. or fem. in gender, irrespective of sex: as, le léopard, la panthère; le renne, la souris, etc.

The distinction of sex is expressed by adding male or femelle: as,
Un canari mâle, un canari femelle; un démon femelle, a she-devil.
Thus also with names of plants :-
:-un palmier mâle, un palmier femelle.
Observation 2.-Most names of Professions remain unaltered, if applied to


l'amateur, le docteur, le défenseur, l'auteur, l'écrivain, etc. Thus also- un ange, un témoin.



(a) If both components are used adjectively, they both take the sign of the Feminine and of the Plural:


aigre-doux, aigre-douce;




aigres-doux, aigres-douces, sourish.
ivres-morts, ivres-mortes, dead drunk.

nouveau marié,1 nouvelle mariée; nouveaux mariés, nouvelles mariées, {

[blocks in formation]

newly married. deaf and dumb.

premières venues,

first come.

1 Thus-nouveau converti, nouveau venu; for the other compounds of

nouveau, see B.

Thus also, though the first component is adverbial, in—


fraîche-cueillie; frais-cueillis, fraîches-cueillies, { newly


(b) If one of the components is a Participle or an Adjective used adverbially, it remains unchanged (for Exceptions see a) :

[blocks in formation]

Thus-premier-né, first born; mort-né, still born; dernier-né, last léger-vêtu, lightly clad; demi-savant, smatterer; mi-parti,


half and half, court-jointé, thick set; long-jointé, lanky. Obs.—Tout-puissant, toute-puissante; tout-puissants,


toutes-puissantes, powerful.

« PreviousContinue »