French phonology

Gemination of doubled ⟨m⟩ and ⟨n⟩ is typical of the Languedoc region, as opposed to other southern accents.

Finally, a word pronounced with emphatic stress can exhibit gemination of its first syllable-initial consonant:

Standard French contrasts up to 13 oral vowels and up to 4 nasal vowels. The schwa (in the center of the diagram next to this paragraph) is not necessarily a distinctive sound. Even though it often merges with one of the mid front rounded vowels, its patterning suggests that it is a separate phoneme (see the subsection Schwa below).

The table below primarily lists vowels in contemporary Parisian French, with vowels only present in other dialects in parentheses.

While there is much variation among speakers in France, a number of general tendencies can be observed. First of all, the distinction is most often preserved in word-final stressed syllables such as in these minimal pairs:

Back /ɑ/ is much rarer in unstressed syllables, but it can be encountered in some common words:

Morphologically complex words derived from words containing stressed /ɑ/ do not retain it:

The main characteristic of French schwa is its "instability": the fact that under certain conditions it has no phonetic realization.

A three-way alternation can be observed, in a few cases, for a number of speakers:

The following table presents the pronunciation of a representative sample of words in phrase-final (stressed) position:

In Quebec French, close vowels are often devoiced when unstressed and surrounded by voiceless consonants:

For words that begin with a vowel, emphatic stress falls on the first syllable that begins with a consonant or on the initial syllable with the insertion of a glottal stop or a liaison consonant.