The standard consonant system is considered to consist of 12 obstruents (six plosives and six fricatives) and 8 sonorants (three nasals, two liquids, and three semivowel glides). The obstruents can be classified in voiced and voiceless pairs, with strong periodicity (voicing) normally occurring in the phonemically voiced members.
The plosives are p b t d k g:
The voiceless plosives (/p t k/) are unaspirated except in stressed syllables preceding close vowels, where the extreme position of the tongue delays voice onset and produces turbulence.
There are six fricatives f v s z S Z; there is also j, which may be considered a fricative or a glide:
There are three nasals, m n J, found in words considered to be genuinely French. A fourth nasal, N, is only found in loanwords, except in Southern French dialects, where it occurs in some contexts after nasal vowels:
There are two liquids, l R, and three vowel glides, w H and
j. The vowel glides may be realised as fricative following voiceless
The vowel system comprises 12 oral vowels, i e E a A O o u y 2 9 @, and 4 nasal vowels, e~ a~ o~ 9~ , exemplified as follows:
When they are functional, the load of the oppositions a-A, e~ -9~ , e-E, o-O, 2-9 may be very low for certain speakers, and there is a tendency towards neutralisation. When they are not functional there is a strong tendency in unstressed syllables towards indetermination. ``Indeterminacy'' symbols have been agreed to cover occurrences of these phonemes or sounds.
|E/||=||e or E||O/||=||o or O||&/||=||2 or 9|
|A/||=||a or A||U~||=||e~ or 9~|
There are contextually determined vowel length differences, nasal vowels being long before following consonants, and all vowels being long before R and voiced fricatives.