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pronouncing le and rouge

[deactivated user]

    Any tips on how to pronounce these two words? I have a lot of trouble with the French R in general, but rouge is especially hard for me. And robe.

    August 13, 2017



    Rouge is pronounced [ʁuʒ]; robe is [ʁɔb]. Linguists refer to the French "r" sound as the voiced uvular fricative, [ʁ]. And if you break down what each of those words means, you get a picture of how to pronounce it:

    Uvular. Pronounced in the back of your mouth - specifically, with your tongue touching the uvula or as close to touching it as possible. The uvula is that thing dangling from the top of your mouth over your throat if you look in a mirror with your mouth wide open. That's your target.

    Here's a chart of your mouth that I find very useful. Your uvula is #9. Try to position your tongue so that #9 and #14 are touching.

    Fricative. A type of sound where the airflow is partially obstructed - not completely obstructed, but funneled through a narrow channel. These kinds of sounds can be "held" for an extended period, since they just require you to keep pushing more air through that channel. You're already familiar with a number of fricatives: f, v, and th are all fricatives, and s and sh are both "sibilants", a specific subset of fricatives.

    Voiced. Vibrate your vocal cords while making this sound. If you want to know what that feels like, try gently putting your fingers up to your throat, and then hold the f sound. Feel anything? Now switch to making the v sound. Did you feel something constrict or vibrate in your throat? f and v are exactly the same sound, except that you don't vibrate your vocal cords to make f (so we say that it's voiceless), whereas you do for v (so it's voiced).

    Put all together: try making the "th" sound in "father", then pull your tongue back and up towards the uvula.

    As for le - it's pronounced /lə/. The first sound, the /l/, is the same "l" sound at the beginning of lamb / lamp / light / lasagna, etc. (I point this out because English actually has two "l"-like sounds) The vowel /ə/ is called the schwa, and it should also be familiar to you: in English, almost every vowel that isn't stressed tends to devolve into a schwa. Think about the "a" in "about" /əˈba͡ʊt/, the "e" in "taken" /ˈtɛ͡ɪkən/, the "u" in "supply" /səˈpla͡ɪ/, etc. That's the vowel you want.



    This website has a collection of words pronounced by native speakers in different languages. All you have to do is type the word you what to hear in and click on the ones you want to hear.

    Good luck with your French studies :)


    For rouge, try pronouncing the r slightly rolled and the g like the g in "beige". Try this website: http://www.french-linguistics.co.uk/how-to-pronounce/rouge-e81a41ec2ff2b37f/

    For le, try saying the l normally like in english an the e like: "euh"

    A tip for both words: Try to make the sound from your throat, not mouth. :) Hope that helps! P.S Look on the internet for websites and videos that might help or ask your parents.


    One trick for saying the french R is to not move the front of your mouth much, but instead, make it the back of the throat. The e in le is like the e at the end of garage, or a light 'euh' sound. To my understanding, it's a back vowel, so try to pronounce it at the back of the mouth.


    Robe is pronounced like Rob (short for Robert) it is a soft R and the accent on the B, and for rouge it a soft R, ou sounds like oo in zoo, and put an accent on g. The last e on both word is very very soft.


    le is not lee, but le with a short, simple, sad 'e'. You pronounce it a bit like 'u' but a bit more eish. Rouge is not roug-e. You just say roeg. Or roug. The 'r' in the begin is not so important but try saying rrrrrrrrrrr very long until it rolls in nice 'r'.


    I made videos for you to hear how things are pronounced and I give some tips about pronouncing French. If that is what you have trouble with, you can start for instance with this video where I address the "infamous French R". ;) https://youtu.be/vGgIOKWoaT8?t=35s

    Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.