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From which part of England do people pronounce the vowel “u” in a similar way to the French “u”?

They pronounce words such as success, luck, but et al with a closed “ooh”: “sook-cess”, “look”, “boot”

  • July 5, 2012
  • Posted by sefardi
  • Filed in Misc

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I'm pretty certain that people in northern England, i.e. Newcastle and Liverpool pronounce it that way.

There is a list of English dialects on Wikipedia which might be able to help you.

Mandy July 10, 2012, 2:17am

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Scottish English has a central vowel /ʉ/ for the GOOSE and FOOT vowels, so for instance "food" and "good". This is close to the French front vowel /y/. This is the closest I'm aware of.

goofy July 10, 2012, 8:17am

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I think you are right Mandy, because my teacher was a Liverpool FC fan.

Thank you for your responses.

sefardi July 13, 2012, 10:42pm

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I am from Huddersfield! it is in the north of England. West Yorkshire


Sefardi's teacher July 18, 2012, 7:07pm

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Oh, what a surprise!
You are great.

sefardi July 18, 2012, 11:02pm

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People in Yorkshire pronounce the vowel of "luck" with /ʊ/, so it sounds like "look". That's not similar to French "u".

goofy July 19, 2012, 2:23am

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Do you really mean the French 'u'? the French 'u' doesn't really sound quite like 'oo' (as in fool or drool). I don't think the French 'u' phoneme really exists in any dialect of English that I'm aware of. The French 'u' sound is produced by forming the 'oo' sound with the lips, but forming the 'ee' sound with the tongue, etc., inside the mouth. It's not just an 'oo' sound.

porsche July 19, 2012, 5:20am

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Have to agree with porsche, the French /u/ does not exist in English. Physiologically, there is no lower jaw movement in the French /u/, which is uncharacteristic of most English /u/ pronunciations. One of the easiest ways to tell a Francophone from an Anglophone is /u/ production. Years spent teaching English to the French has shown that native vowel sounds are the biggest hurdles in proper pronunciation. They determine so much in English, like stress and prosody, that changing them is primordial to movement across the two languages.

MattG October 11, 2012, 10:41pm

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Accepting that what we're talking about isn't like French u, but /ʊ/ instead of standard (ie southern) /ʌ/ - the joke is that Londoners think that 'Oop North' starts at Watford (18 miles north of London). That may be exaggerating a bit, but the usage certainly starts south of Yorkshire, in the Midlands, for example in Birmingham, which is only 100 miles north of London. -

What's more, it's very noticeable listening to BBC radio that it's not only people with regional accents that use it. It is also used in a modified RP by speakers who otherwise have absolutely standard 'BBC' pronunciation. And don't forget, the Irish use it as well.

Warsaw Will October 12, 2012, 5:36am

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It is a relic of times past, when the English and French were both on the island. At that time, French pronunciation was not exactly as it is today. So, the tendency is a result of French influence, but it is a mixture of French (as it was spoken in England a long time ago) and English pronunciation as it has developed since then.

georges October 14, 2012, 5:18am

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Wow this is a very interesting post.The pronunciation of English and French is different. It will be very difficult, in the beginning, for a <a href="
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to adapt to English language and culture that is not the same is French. Having the ability to speak two great languages is very good for a person in the future.

rosalyne carter November 18, 2012, 6:23am

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