Audio books

At the moment I’m reading the novel Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain Fournier, and have been wondering how to pronounce Meaulnes, which is the name of one of the characters. I guessed it was something like /meyln/ or /meylnə/, and have now discovered that it’s pronounced more like /mœln/. I’ve also found a free audio book version of the story on the Internet Archive.

When reading texts in foreign languages I usually read them aloud to practise speaking those languages. Listening to recordings of texts as I’m reading, and repeating what I’m hearing, helps me improve my pronunciation and intonation, as well as my listening comprehension. I find this a useful way to improve my knowledge of languages, and also to enjoy stories and learn new things from factual texts.

The Audio Archive or that site contains thousands of audio books, podcasts and other recordings. Most are in English, but there quite a few in other languages, including Arabic, French, German and Spanish. A related resource is, which contains numerous audio books and other recordings in French.

This entry was posted in French, Language, Language learning.

11 Responses to Audio books

  1. Frédéric Grosshans says:

    For me, native French speaker, it has always been /moln/ (or /moːln/). /mœln/ sounds strange and not consistent with the orthography, where “au” and “eau” ar always for /o/.

  2. michael farris says:

    You should also send some love to LibriVox at which has a bunch of public domain books in a lot of different languages which can be downloaded for free (often with links to the texts).

  3. Jerry says:

    Slightly off-topic, but I’ve always found it interesting how language have different ways to write certain sounds. Not only how different language have their own ways to write a similar sound, but also how many different ways a language has to write a single sound. I think Dutch and English have more ways than for example German. But French probably is the language with the most different ways of writing the same sound. I have not done any research on this – just a feeling.

  4. VKN says:

    I have found that expression of thoughts and feelings is unique to each language – given one and the same situation, the native speaker expresses it in one way and the non-native speaker in some other way which is to say that the native language of the non-native speaker influences his / her expression.

    BTW, do you know of any commercial site inviting readers for reading books? I have passion for reading for audio books and I would like to do some assignments in this regard.

    If you have any information, please email to:

    Thanks and regards


  5. Andrew says:

    Absolutely agreed, Pete (doviende) uses a similar method that I’m currently trying out, though I’ve yet to get an audio book (I’ve got one text in Spanish and another in English for the novel The Bourne Identity). Another related useful resource is Forvo, that site where it’s got recordings of native speakers pronouncing various words, their index is insane, they’ve got hundreds of thousands of words for each of several dozen languages, are you familiar with it?


  6. Simon says:

    VKN – you can volunteer to read audiobooks on Librivox, and the Audio Publishers Association has information about becoming an audiobook narrator for commercial books. Foreign Audio Books is another place you could try.

    Andrew – I’m familiar with Forvo, thanks. A similar site is RhinoSpike, where you can request recordings in a wide variety languages.

  7. Christopher Miller says:

    That’s intriguing. I would automatically have pronounced it /mon/ because of the ‹eau› sequence, ignoring the ‹l› which in many words is an unpronounced etymological appendix you find, for example in names such as Saulnier /sonje/ or Bujold /byʒo/.

  8. Kevin says:

    Like Christopher, I’ve always taken the pronunciation of Meaulnes to be /mon/ (the “l” being silent, as in such names as Renault) — and that that is one of the main reasons why the book is always given a totally different title in English translation: “the great moan” does not sound like a very appealing read!

  9. Marc says:

    Like Frédéric, I’m a native French speaker, and I think that everyone in France
    says /moln/. Noone would say /mœln/ because of the orthography ‘eau’, which
    is always /o/. As for the ‘l’, yes it is silent in many cases, but here not.
    Greetings to everybody.

  10. Marc says:

    I wanted to add something about French proper names, which are often intricate.
    One day, I was driving across a village called Exmes, and thought : how the hell
    should I pronounce that name? It couldn’t be /eksm/ (unpronounceable) nor /eksmes/
    (unlikely), so what was it? I asked someone and it turned out to be /em/.
    It’s strange to think you cannot figure out how to pronounce a name in your own

  11. You may want to look at – a lot of interesting serialized audiobooks available there.

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