French Corrective Phonetics Guide

The nasal vowel /œ̃/

The Nasal Vowel /œ̃/

The articulatory features of /œ̃/ are as follow: mid, front, rounded and nasal. Examples of words containing /œ̃/ are brun [bʁœ̃] , humble [œ̃bl] , parfum [paʁfœ̃] , un [œ̃] , lundi [lœ̃di] . Be sure to fully round the vowel since otherwise it will be interpreted as /ɛ̃/.

Note that many speakers (in Europe) replace /œ̃/ with /ɛ̃/. That is not the case in Canada and /œ̃/ is indeed a standard French vowel, which is why it is included in this guide.

Spelling of /œ̃/

As we saw in the general section on nasal vowels, two main contexts exist:

a) a vowel letter + "n" at the very end of a word, e.g.: inopportun [inɔpɔʁtœ̃];

b) a vowel letter + "n" or "m" followed by a consonant letter, lundi [lœ̃di].

It is important to note that when the vowel is nasal, there is no nasal consonant pronounced. Its only role is to indicate that one must use a nasal vowel, e.g.: humble is pronounced [œ̃bl] and NOT [œ̃mbl].

The  main spelling indication for /œ̃/ is "un" or "um", e.g.: un, parfum).

A Correct Articulation of /œ̃/.

In order to arrive at a correct pronunciation of /œ̃/, we suggest you begin with /ɛ̃/ and then advance and round the lips:

/ɛ̃/ + rounding = /œ̃/

 

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While "un/um" in the context of a nasal vowel usually represents /œ̃/, there are some exceptions, e.g.:

● the word rhum is actually pronounced [ʁɔm].

 
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