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updated: 06/01/2012 08:01:03 AM


Here are five IPA vowel quadrilaterals compared: three IPA French Quadrilaterals, and two IPA English Quadrilaterals. Actually one is a trapezium.


French Vowel Quadrilateral / English Vowel Quadrilateral

(click phonetic symbols on top two quads to hear samples, or How To for more info)

  [] [] [] []

si - if ses - his, hers (pl) sait - knows ce - this sa - his, hers (f) sous - under sot - silly sort - fate su - known ceux - these soeur - sister beadbidbedbirdbudbooedbodepodbayedbadgood







 si - ifses - his, hers (pl)sait - knowsce - thissa - his, hers (f)sous - undersot - sillysort - fatesu - knownceux - thesesoeur - sistersaintson - his/her masc.sans - without






Click on images immediately above for their sources.












Compare Picard chart above to the computer generated chart below plotted from recordings of all of the IPA "peripheral" vowels:

01/26/12 from: UCLA Linguistics Dept, Linguistics 103, Bruce Hayes





The five IPA quadrilaterals above show refinement of the original IPA chart concept.

The French and English at top are taken directly from the 2005 edition of the IPA "Handbook of the International Phonetic Association."

Below those original IPA quads are another French quadrilateral and an English quadrilateral both of which show a sharpening of the original concept in order to focus on specific educational purposes.

The French Quadrilateral focuses attention on how the vowels exhibit less spread anterior to posterior as they become more open.

The bottom right English Quadrilateral highlights the fact that neither the pure "o" nor the pure "e" exists in Standard American English, but the morpheme vowels which might be taken for them are actually diphthongs.

Below the the first two more focused French and English quadrilaterals is another focused version of the French quadrilateral which is skewed to a trapezium taken from Picard, 2001.

The Picard trapezium highlights the fact that while the French vowels do move closer to Central as they become more Open, the "o" is in fact retreated posteriorly before the remaining back vowels progress more Centrally.

The skewing of the Picard quadrilateral into a pentagon helps highlight the positional differences of the French vowel set when distinguished from the vowel set of Received British English.

Below the Picard chart is a computer generated chart showing vowel locations taken from an English speaker for all of the IPA "peripheral" vowels which exhibits similar placement variations as shown for the French in the Picard.

Bottom most of the IPA charts above is the original chart from the IPA handbook taken from linked proximate source: UCLA Ladefoged course which provides audio in the manner of my English and French quadrilaterals at top of this page.

 Click the symbols on the top two quads and the Picard pentagon for audio, and click on the full images of the second row quads to go to their sources.

Here is your best resource for putting all these sounds together.

French Sounds, LLC
French Sounds, LLC

All Videos - Cheryl A. Demharter, PhD

French: /i/ /se/ /ɛf/ English: /ə/


Letter Name
A /a/ a
B /be/
C /se/
D /de/
E /ə/ e
F /ɛf/ effe
G /ʒe/
H /aʃ/ ache
I /i/ i
J /ʒi/ ji
K /ka/ ka
L /ɛl/ elle
M /ɛm/ emme
N /ɛn/ enne
O /o/ o
P /pe/
Q /ky/ qu
R /ɛʁ/ erre
S /ɛs/ esse
T /te/
U /y/ u
V /ve/
W /dubləve/ double vé
X /iks/ icse
Y /igʁɛk/ i grec
Z /zɛd/ zède


Below is the French Vowel Quad as found in Pronouncing French.
[Picard, 2001] It offers a more refined depiction of vowel positions
than does the pure IPA example above.

Apparently  [] does not change position from 'œ' but is merely rounded.
Have not yet found audio sample for , Picard (2001) states it is disappearing.

si - if ses - his, hers (pl) sait - knows ce - this sa - his, hers (f) sous - under sot - silly sort - fate su - known ceux - these soeur - sister saint son - his/her masc. sans - without

10/30/11: found following French quadrilateral on Guy Spielmann's website at:



French Vowel Quadrilateral




Quadrilateral and audio samples: University of Victoria IPA Handbook online publication


Audio samples: about.french.com

Pronunciation phonetics:  Larousse. "Petit Dictionnaire De La Langue Française". Ed. Jean Dubois. Paris, 1993. ISBN: 2-03-710221-6

Table: Wikipedia


Picard, Jean-Michel, and Vera Regan. 2001. "Pronouncing French." Dublin: University College Dublin Press. ISBN: 1-900621-64-9



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