Here’s how to pronounce Savoyard names correctly

Every time you stay in Savoie or Haute-Savoie, it’s the same puzzle: how do you say local names, especially the words z and x? Here are the rules to know when not to pass for Monchu.

There are some, it’s easy, they are known, no one (or almost) makes mistakes anymore, unless they are in bad faith or deliberately want to upset the natives. Chamonix, for example, Haute-Savoie and the world capital of mountaineering. Everyone (or almost) knows how it is said: chamoni, without pronouncing -x. However, other major questions remain. Avoriaz For example, the famous ski resort above Morzine clings to its cliff: should you pronounce the ‘z’? Should we make the ‘a’ sound?

During every stay in one of the two Savoyard departments, it is the same problem: the traveler hesitates in pronouncing words in -X and -Z: la clusaz, bernex, semanoz… The worst thing is that the local People hate it, foreigners who mispronounce the name of their village. He even has an epithet for these rude tourists: monchus, It historically designates despicable townspeople. Today, with the help of social networks – especially the many Facebook groups (such as the extremely funny “Histoires de Monchas”) – it usually designates the slightly clumsy tourist who, for example, cannot find the right all-season tire on snowy roads. Descends with. On the Champs-Élysées, Paris. So, to avoid getting upset haute-savoyard And this SavoyardYou may also know the rules.

a silent z

Let’s start with the -Z words. this is easy, ” he is always silent », recalls Alain Febvre, vice-president of the Savoyard Language Institute. -Z is an accent mark, it is used to make the last syllable unstressed and the last syllable pronounced.

take the example of La ClusazThis beautiful village is close to the resortAnnecy And facing Aravis. Adding the final -Z means we must emphasize the ‘s’, so we would pronounce ‘la clusa’ with difficulty ‘marking’.Is‘ Last. With words in -x, the principle is the same: the final consonant is also not pronounced, but with -z there is a difference, -x indicating a tonic accent on the last syllable, not on the front -final. . Thus, Chamonix decides chamoniAs combloux says ComblOU, If Chamonix were spelled Chamonise, the city would almost say ” Chamon ,


Let’s summarize: The endings in -z and -x are graphic devices. They are silent and indicate which syllable should be stressed, nothing more. Why add consonants? To understand we have to go to the Middle Ages, to approximately the 13th century. , At the time that Latin became established, local scribes had to find a way to transcribe the local patois into Latin. », explains Alain Febvre. This is the Patois Arpitan or Franco-Provençal, the Savoyard language spoken in the state of Savoy, the two current Savoyard departments, but also in French-speaking Switzerland. Aosta ValleyIn Italy,

, He then decided to add the redundant consonants of the Latin alphabet, ‘x’ and ‘z’, to some words to distinguish Latin pronunciation from patois and to mark the stress of letters. », continues the dialectician. This process is no different from that used for other French words: nose, eyes, hair, Bordeaux.

“Our history is not taught”

Problem: The rule and its distortion through experiment. Today bad habits have become a part of everyday language. For example, Le Semnose. This mountain near Annecy, everyone calls it Semnose no more SeMNo, The same applies to Chablais’s resort Bernex: the locals themselves pronounce ‘Bernex’.x‘ Last. , I am infamous, Alain Favre says. We should say ” Bernie , Savoyard points to the influence of tourists. “For a long time, there has been such an influx of people coming here from elsewhere that even the locals have adopted bad pronunciation. ,

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