Le poivre fait fièvre à la pauvre pieuvre.
luh PWAH-vruh fay feeYEV-ruh ah lah PO-vruh peeYUH-vruh. Click below to hear this pronounced!
Pepper gives a fever to the poor octopus.
I don’t know if this is a tonguetwister or a recipe (season octopus with pepper, stir up to a fever pitch, cook until done).
Either way, you will have to be careful with the pronunciation of those /p/ sounds. Remember, no puffing. It’s not sanitary to puff into the cooking pot, and it makes the microphone pop unpleasantly if you’re recording. French is just not a puffing language.
Need a reminder on how to pronounce your /p/? The vowel sound that follows the p will in large part shape your lips: pursed for the /wah/ sound in poivre, more rounded for the /o/ in pauvre, and pinched shut for pieuvre, where the vowel sound is initially produced by your tongue, inside your mouth.
So the real secret has to be something other than a specific mouth shape. And it is! The big secret is: don’t exhale, inhale.
Try laying your hand on your chest and saying Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers in English. You will probably feel your chest slowly and gently deflating as you let out breath with each /p/. English is a puffy language!
Now try Peter Piper… saying /b/ for every /p/. Like this: Beater Biper bicked a beck of bickled bebbers… I think that this time, you will find yourself almost holding your breath until the end of the sentence, and then exhaling at the end. And there will be no puffing. That’s what a French /p/ should sound like! To Anglophone ears, a French /p/ is easily confused with a /b/. Try it! And then try to say our tonguetwister with the same kind of puff-control. Lo and behold, you will sound more French!