Prononciation : ï/ë/ü

Did you know that the German umlaut has a French cousin?! :dancing_men:
We call it “le tréma”. It is mostly found on the “e” and the “i” and more rarely on the “u” and the “y”.

Unlike the umlaut, the tréma does not change the pronunciation of the letter but just means that it should be pronounced separately from the other letters.

Voici un exemple :
I’m sure you know how to pronounce the little word “mais”… Yes ! Just in one syllable: \mɛ\

But how to pronounce this word?

You must pronounce it in two syllables: \\ :ok_hand:

:bear_happy: Now let’s practice ! Try to pronounce these words and tell me how you find it!

Noël - mosaïque - caïman - égoïste - canoë - Michaël


:bulb: Wow! I knew how to pronounce these words but never made the connection with le tréma, and I also didn’t know that’s what it was called.

Merci beaucoup! :relaxed:

1 Like

Very helpful, thanks @Amandine!

This sounds similar to the same, but not-often-used symbol in English, where it is called the diaeresis. In English, it’s placed on the second of a repeated vowel to indicate that it is pronounced separately, for example coöperation or reëlection.

It’s very rarely used outside of older texts or publications with special editorial requirements. Most of the time, the word is hyphenated instead (eg, re-election).


Here’s a rare sighting of two diaereses in a single sentence (from the New Yorker)!


Oh I’ve never heard of that @mgm!! C’est très intéressant, merci !