French Pronunciation Again

Can some European Berserker tell me if the final ‘s’ in the name of the charming Château Pomys in St. Estèphe is sounded or not? I am told that French people themselves cannot be sure about the pronunciation of proper names until they have heard them, there are so many regional peculiarities.


I don’t know this particular wine but I would not sound the last ‘s’ personnaly.
Then I checked and I am wrong, so the s is sounded:

So your point stands, we are not able to tell you … I have to say a general rule is that in the south-west of France, the last s is sounded whereas in the rest of France, it is not. So I could have guessed

Sounding of a final s–and even r and t to a lesser extent–is becoming more and more common. In the Rhone, the final s is regularly pronounced in proper names such as Gigondas and Vacqueyras. I would have guessed the s in Pomys would have been sounded if it were in the Rhone, but would not have been surprised had it not been.

The Occitan languages make predicting the pronunciation really difficult. In French the final s and many other final consonants are silent. However, in some Occitan languages the final s is often sounded. Many Châteaux of Bordeaux have Gascon names, so if you don’t know whether the name is French or Gascon, it can be quite impossible to predict how the name is pronounced correctly.

For example Cos d’Estournel is a Gascon name, so the s in Cos is sounded - however, to my understanding, many French people treat the name as if it was a French name, so the final s is silent.

I remember asking a man on the street in Carpentras many years ago if the S was pronounced. He said, “We locals pronounce it but people from Paris don’t.”

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Thanks to everyone for their responses. Because of ‘Cos’ my instinct was to pronounce the ‘s’, so I am glad to find people confirming that. I think for the first time ever I saw the wine offered here, and bought four half-bottles. It is a good wine, no more, but I have very fond memories of staying there, since they take in a small number of guests. It’s isolated and the landscape is very beautiful. I recommend it highly to anyone visiting Bordeaux. (I had completely forgotten how they said the name themselves.)

I was with a french family who told me classic French from the Loire would not pronounce the final letter, but the Bordeaux dialect would. So to be regionally correct you can follow your instincts.

Yes, this–it’s very variable and I assume for the reasons that Otto gave. In the name of the town “Cassis” (up the coast from Marseille), the “s” is pronounced; in the liqueur, also “Cassis,” not.

That is true - that is why my instinct was not to pronounce the s …

Someone has misunderstood something here.

The Bordelais pronounce the final s when they’re speaking French, because in French the final s is silent.

When they’re speaking Gascon (or saying Gascon words), they’re pronouncing the final s, because in Gascon language the final s is not silent. And it’s not a dialect of Bordeaux; Gascon is a language (not a dialect) spoken throughout the southwestern France.

What percentage of Bordelais (particularly in the Medoc) do you think speak Gascon?

If one follows Otto’s explanation, which is a good one, the Bordelais would pronounce proper names that come from Gascon with a final s characteristic of Occitan. In the Rhone, where there are older people still whose first language was Provencale, a dialect of Occitan, they pronounce place names with an S that are in French and that Parisians would pronounce without the S because of the linguistic background, I suspect. The explanation is basically the same, though the manifestations are different.

An impossible question to answer accurately, since I don’t have knowledge on the demographic structure of languages in France, nor do the French seem to have any official statistics on the subject - seeing how apparently French os the only official language in France and no statistics on local languages or dialects is recorded. I was honestly very surprised how very little language-related statistics I could find from the website of national statistics of France.

However, I managed to dig up some bits and pieces from here and there. It seems that approximately 600-700,000 people speak Occitan languages as their mother tongue and some 1,2-1,5 million people speak Occitan languages as their second language or speak and understand them. About 13 million people live in the regions that comprise the larger region of southern France where Occitan languages are spoken. If we assume that the people who speak Occitan are spread pretty much evenly, about 1 in 7 speak Occitan - which would be Gascon in the case of Bordeaux’s Left Bank (the Right Bank seems to fall out of the cultural sphere of influence).

Most likely the concentration of French speakers is higher in larger cities like Bordeaux, and the concentration of local languages and dialects goes higher in the countryside.

This was my instinctive reaction. (The superiority of the Loire accent was impressed on me by a family I stayed with in the Loire for a few weeks when I was a kid, as well as a couple of teachers at school. )

We were discussing the wines of Moulis at the time, they corrected my pronunciation without an S and said it was a gascon word so I should include it.

Did some digging in Wikipedia and found out this page: Nouvelle-Aquitaine - Wikipedia

In Aquitane they made a survey on the languages spoken throughout the region. According to the results, only 0,6% of the inhabitants speak some of the Occitan languages as their mother tongue, but over 16% speak and understand Occitan, which is pretty close to my estimation of 1 in 7 people speaking Occitan.

Sounds about right.

tous :slight_smile:

They may not speak it, but they may pronounce French names in the Gascon way.