Je dois le sucer de mon pouce.
zhuh dwahl sew-sayd maw POOSS. Click below to hear this.*
I’ll have to guess.
You asked me a question, but I haven’t the slightest idea what the answer might be. None. I am racking my brain, but nothing is coming to me.
So what will I do? Je dois le sucer de mon pouce! You’ll never believe what that means literally: I’ll have to suck it from my thumb! Presumably, I am so completely at a loss that I am reduced to sucking my thumb, hoping that somehow, an answer will come to me.
By the way, this is a good sentence on which to practice the difference in pronunciation between the sound of u (which I spell /ew/ in the pronunciation helps) and the sound of ou (which I spell /oo/). The first, /ew/, requires the tiniest possible opening of your lips, with the corners of your mouth drawn tightly outwards. You should feel your chin lifting upwards.
The second calls for dropping your chin, pushing your lips forward as if you were straining to reach the wall so you could kiss it, and your tongue bunched up at the back of your mouth. Try these mouth-shapes in front of a mirror; you should see a considerable change around your mouth from one sound to the other.
And here’s a hint. In order to get the vowel sound right, anticipate it as you pronounce the consonant that comes before it. Grab that mirror again for a moment: try saying sucer and pouce with the ordinary American slack-lipped s and p, and then compare that to the same two words with your mouth–tongue, lips, chin, all of it–already in position for the vowel. You’ll be amazed at the difference, and at how much more French you sound and look. I dare you!
*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file: