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How to Speak French and German Like the Natives

December 21, 2011

Cologne, Germany Weihnachtsmarkt

Sometimes when I’m doing lesson after lesson and trying to take in movies and radio, I still can’t hear exactly how a word is pronounced.  An example in French is “maintenant,” which means “now.”  Sometimes all the syllables are pronounced and sometimes only the “main” and “ant” are audible.  At other times I just want to know how to pronounce a store or designer such as L’Occitane or Christian Louboutin.

For excellent examples of how to pronounce words from names to every day nouns and more I go to Forvo.com.  Forvo is a crowd sourced language pronunciation service.  Natives of any language can record themselves and upload it to the site for a, hopefully someday, comprehensive guide on pronunciation.  Even better, the site has a map feature that lets you see where exactly the speaker is from based on the IP address so you can see what a Parisian accent sounds like versus a Québécois or a Frankfurt accent versus Swiss-German…depending on how many people from different areas have uploaded their recording of a particular word.

And for the fashion lovers, my favorite guide to designer names of various nationalities comes from About.com.  I love the Italian pronunciations – the guy sounds like he’s on horse tranquilizers compared to the Frenchies.

Yves Saint Laurent Paris store

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