14 April 2018

Juliénas views, pronunciation, and harvests

The town's web site says the final S of Juliénas is not pronounced — it's Juliéna’ and not Juliénasse. However, I think the local people pronounce the name their way, while people in the rest of France disagree. The same is true, for example, of the name of the big town of Tournus in Burgundy (Tournu’ locally, rather than Tournusse as pronounced in Paris and other areas). Think about the names of other wine villages: Gigondas, Vacqueras... S or no S? And I've heard about one case where a town, Nyons, changed the recommended pronunciation of its name from having a silent final S to a pronounced final S (because there is a town named Nyon in nearby Switzerland).


The photos here are some views of the village of Juliénas taken from in front of the Cave des Producteurs and the Château du Bois de la Salle, inside which are located the co-op's tasting room and wine shop.


About pronunciation, my 1980 Larousse Dictionnaire de la Prononciation says that the standard pronunciation of Juliénas is with the final S sounded, but the "regional" (Lyon and Beaujolais) pronunciation is with the final S silent. French, eh? It'll trip you up every time. I always pronounce the final S on words like these unless I have no doubt about the standard pronunciation being silent S. Paris in French is Paree, as we all know, for example. Tours is Tour’, not Tourss or Tourz, and Blois is [blwah]. But is Salers called Saler’ or Salerss?


Let me mention something about the Beaujolais vineyards that I never knew before going there and reading background material for this series of blog posts. All the grape harvesting in Beaujolais is done by hand. Here in Touraine, the majority of the grape harvesting by far is what they call mécanique, not manuel. In Vouvray, to cite another case, the grapes considered to be of highest quality are harvested by hand, which is more expensive, and the rest are harvested by machine, which is faster and cheaper. The mechanical-harvesting process involves de-stemming all the grapes, whereas manual harvesting means cutting whole bunches, stems and all.


One reason for the hand-harvesting in Beaujolais is the way wines are fermented. Whole grape bunches are cut off the vines and then put in a vat to ferment on the stem for a certain amount of time. I think the theory is that the woody stems add flavor to the juice — think about wine aged in wooden barrels. Then, in Beaujolais, the grapes are stripped off the stems and pressed to release more juice for further fermentation. In Chablis (S or no S?), to the north in Burgundy, virtually all the grapes are machine-harvested. I was surprised to learn about that a few years ago, because I had assumed the opposite given the quality and reputation of the Chablis [shah-blee] Chardonnay wines.

20 comments:

  1. In many cases, I don't think there is a way to know for sure how to pronounce the name of a town or a village. There doesn't seem to be any rule, but as in French grammar, there are many exceptions. Go figure!, as an American appeal court's judge said famously a few years ago! Local usage may completely differ for the general usage. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, but otherwise feel free to do as you wish!

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    1. Of course, it is differ from... I need new fingers and new glasses!

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  2. I've often been confused about the final S in French towns. Several years ago we were staying in Nyons, and visited some farms as part of Ferme en Ferme weekend. Several times we were asked where we were staying, and would say "Nyon." Then one person replied "Ah, some people think Paris has the best restaurants in France, but I think that city does." We were puzzled that that small town might have the best food in France, so we repeated what we said and spelled the name. And the person said, "Ah, Nyonsse."
    And then there's Cassis, the town and the drink.

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  3. Such is the case in the U.S. for the Massachusetts college town, Amherst. Locals do not pronounce the h, so they say Ammm-errrst. You can always pick out the students, their parents, and other visitors, because they do pronounce the S: Amm-Herrst.

    I was wondering if this confusion of do-we-pronounce-the-final-s was applying mostly to geographic words... towns, mostly. But, then I thought of the Paris Métro card, the Mobilis, where you also do pronounce the S at the end. Can you think of examples of -is, -as, and -us words (other than Cassis, the berry, since it's also a town), where that final S is pronounced?

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  4. Plus can be plu' or pluss depending on the context. Bus and autobus. There's a TV game show called Motus with the final S pronounced. Un gus with the final S, meaning un type, un gars (sans S prononcé). Un as. Zeus. Ès. Un os. There must be more.

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    1. Interesting is the feminine of gars which is garce with a C instead f a double S. Probably from the root garçon, the feminine of which is regular as garçonne. Genius of a language :—)

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    2. Oh, duuuuh, of course! All of those words!

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    3. Another interesting thing is that in gars, neither the R or the final S is pronounced.

      Also, to me the feminine garce sounds pejorative or derogatory, but the masculine gars does not.

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    4. So is it pronounced like "ga"? So confusing. Last year when we were visiting our friend in Burgundy, and I mentioned the brandy-type drink called marc, pronouncing it "mark." No one knew what I was talking about until I spelled it; then someone said, oh, "mar."

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  5. Just out walking the dog and thinking about final S — Le sens. Un sas. Dix, six in accented position. Bis. Fils, petit-fils, beau-fils. I say Arras with the S but Carpentras without. La rue d'Assas in Paris.

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    1. In the case of fils (son or sons) the pronounced S is mandatory so it won't be confused with the plural of fil (thread) fils with a silent S.

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  6. "Plus can be plu' or pluss depending on the context." I still have never got that one straight. And I've always pronounced the "s" in Carpentras. As to Cassis, friends who spent 3 months there told me that it depends on whether it's the town or the berry/liqueur. But I can't remember which is which.

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    1. I think Cassis might be like Juliénas or Tournus. The locals don't pronounce the final S, but people elsewhere do.

      What about 'une vis' or 'le lys'...

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    2. Scientific words, borrowed from Latin, often have a pronounced final S, as with Anus. Pénis. Thymus. Hippopotamus. And then there is tennis, with the pronounced S.

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  7. I'm late to this party, but I think of the "plu" pronunciation as meaning more, while "plus" meaning the plus sign. Many years ago our French teacher, who was from Bruxelles, generally taught us not to pronounce the s, with words ending is "us" or "as." But languages change over time and regions.

    It reminds me of an old Garrison Keillor routine where he's in the US south trying to drive to a town called Boiling Springs. But the locals have never heard of it because they pronounce it "Bawlin Springs."

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    1. Plu' and pluss are pretty complicated. Idiomatically, plus means 'more' — j'en voudrais un peu plus (with S) or donnez m'en plus (with S), because the word is in accented (stressed) position. Je n'en veux plu' means "I don't want any more". But as an adverb as in New York est plus grand que Buffalo it's plu' because unstressed. As I said, complicated... complex.

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    2. D., you're basically right. However, sometimes it depends on the sentence. If you say Je n'en veux plus the S is silent, but if you say Donnez m'en un peu plus then the S is pronounced. As I said, exceptions, exceptions...

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    3. I was cooking at the same time I was writing, so Ken beat me to the post. His explanation is much better and clearer than mine.

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  8. My favorite is Banyuls sur mer, home to everyone's favorite aperitif (or digestif if you're in Paris), banyuls. Don't know the place? It's right next to Argeles sur mer. One has a silent s the other does not. You guess which one.

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    1. The final S of both Banyuls and Argelès is pronounced.

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