Pronunciation / Rhythmic group and intonation (2)

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In French, your voice does not break off between each word. French-speakers can easily pronounce 6 syllables in a row without pause.
When speaking French, you put the energy on the vowel of the last pronounced syllable of the word or group of words. We call this group: rhythmic group. The energy on the last syllable helps you identify the end of the word or group which then helps identify the different rhythmic groups.
Examples:

Bonjour, je m'appelle Paulina (la la / la la la / la la la)

Je suis espagnole (la la / la la la)
 

The last syllable of the rhythmic group is most notably emphasised in:
- lists and when listing items

une feuille, deux stylos, trois documents, …

- hesitations

celui-ci… ou celui-

- the yelling voice

Comment ? Je n’entends rien !

- or the whispering voice

C’est important.

- and also in natural speaking, particularly in narratives

Et alors...

This means that there are only specific cases in French, because there isn't one inflection per word. You must move the inflection according to the place the word occupies in the sentence.
Foreigners tend to put too many inflections in French sentences. They can be identified by the intonation as it changes with the rhythmic group.

 

Find out more:

Exercices de mise en pratique

Pronunciation: rhythmic group and intonation (2)

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4 exercises
Listen • Pronunciation (Intonation, rythme et accentuation)