French pronunciation for American speakers is a challenge. We have our pronounced Rs and twangy consonants, though we let a lot of things slide through our teeth, unlike our English counterparts: we say “twenny” instead of “twenty” for example.
The French are much more subtle, rolling everything together with liaison (connecting the ending sound of one word to the beginning of the next) and producing the R from the back of the throat, much like the American Y or G sound. The result is a harmonious phrase—and the reason that French rappers sound extremely silly.
Like many American speakers, I struggle with pronunciation, and saying things sans my Western accent. A friend recently was trying to help me pronounce Honolulu as the French would, when we hit on the crux of the matter.
I move my mouth entirely too much when I try to speak French.
If I pay attention and don’t bouge ma bouche, Honolulu glides out with ease and a French flair. It’s an good trick to help ameliorate the American pronunciation of French words: never let them see you move your mouth.
Not that the French never move their lips, but I’m thinking their speech patterns were developed partly out of a preference to save their mouth energy for other, more important things, like eating and kissing, perhaps.
I think a little more practice is in order for me!