Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Belgian French

The French of Belgium is not so different from that of France.  In fact, there are only a few differences in vocabulary and pronunciation.  These differences are also present in the regional varieties of French spoken in France.

In standard French, seventy is soixante-dix and ninety is quatre-vingt-dix.  In Belgium, however, seventy is septante and ninety is nonante.  These words are also used in Swiss French.

Belgian French also has a few differences in pronunciation.  The labiopalatal approximant of Standard French does not exist.  For example, the word huit (eight) is pronounced similarly to the English word wheat. 

In Belgian French, long vowels occur in word-final position.  As a result, feminine adjectives are different from the masculine ones.  For example, vrai/vraie (true) are pronounced differently.  Also, the r is often pronounced as a uvular trill rather than a uvular fricative.  The uvular trill also occurs in France, but is often associated with Belgium. 

For some speakers, word-final plosives are devoiced.  Words such as grande (big) and bague (ring) have voiceless plosives in word-final position.

Though the French of Belgium and northern France is similar, differences nevertheless exist.  They are mainly in vocabulary and pronunciation.  In pronunciation, one of the notable differences is the absence of the labiopalatal approximant.

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