It's written on French Wikipedia that the noun “rose” is represented in phonology by /ʁɔz/ whereas Wiktionary is claiming that it should be /ʁoz/. In both case, the associated representation in common phonetics seems to be [ʁoz], which sounds correct for me as a native French speaker.

Who is right about phonology ? In case Wikipedia is, could you explain ?

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Although /ɔ/ and /o/ do contrast in certain positions in French, the distinction is neutralized before /z/, where phonetically it's always the high-mid vowel that appears: [oz] but never [ɔz]. So it's a moot point which of the two to choose as your underlying representation. The French Wiki article opted for /ɔ/ presumably because this is the vowel that's usually found in closed syllables.

  • Thanks. Sorry, I can't vote up due to my lack of reputation. – Samuel Apr 19 '15 at 18:39

In French there is no phonological contrast between [o] and [ɔ] in closed syllables. Thus, phonologically you could analyse “rose” either as /ʁoz/ or equally well as /ʁɔz/. It is merely a matter of convention.

PS. Overlap with TKR's excellent answer.

  • Thanks. Sorry, I can't vote up due to my lack of reputation. – Samuel Apr 19 '15 at 18:39
  • Actually, there is a phonemic contrast between /o/ and /ɔ/ in closed syllables for Standard French in most environments: compare mode /mɔd/ to chaude /ʃod/. (An actual minimal pair would be roque and rauque). The contrast is absent for most speakers in open syllables, where they are neutralized to /o/ (in words like mot /mo/ and beau /bo/). The opposite pattern applies in Standard French to /ɛ/ and /e/, which are generally distinct in open syllables but neutralized to /ɛ/ in closed syllables. – sumelic Nov 11 '15 at 6:49
  • There are dialects of French where [o] and [ɔ] are completely allophonic, but this is non-normative. – sumelic Nov 11 '15 at 6:55

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.