How to Pronounce Bois de Jasmin

Bois is pronounced as “bwah” in French–imagine that you are planting a tender kiss on someone’s cheek. However, my blog sometimes gets introduced as “Boyz de Jazmine,” which sounds suspiciously like a boy’s band. So I thought that it would be good to share the correct pronunciation of the phrase that means “jasmine wood” or “jasmine forest” in French. I turned to Bela, the founder of Frag Name of the Day. Bela used to read the news on the BBC French Service, and I could not think of a better French expert to ask for help. Moreover, her voice is beautiful, so it is a double pleasure to listen to her impressive collection of 782 podcasts featuring French fragrance names.  And here is how one pronounces Bois de Jasmin!

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50 Comments

  • Maja: boyz de jazmine :)))))

    speaking of pronunciation I think that everything sounds more beautiful in French. I’m currently fascinated by the sound of Noir Epices 🙂 in other languages you just don’t get that amount of sophistication and stylishness, do you? 🙂 March 7, 2012 at 3:26pm Reply

  • Victoria: French is beautiful, and given the regional variations, quite diverse in terms of pronunciation, word usage, etc. Bela's enunciation is as perfect as it gets. I highly recommend checking out her website.

    I love languages, so I have many favorites. Lately, I have been finding Dutch very appealing, and the Dutch accent in English is just so sexy. 🙂
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile March 7, 2012 at 3:32pm Reply

  • Maja: it is! my friend Warner has such a cool accent 🙂 tried once to study Dutch at university but eventually gave up after trying, in vain, to learn different pronounciations of H. 🙂

    ps. checked Bela already. lovely blog. removed some of my doubts 🙂 March 7, 2012 at 4:03pm Reply

  • Austenfan: It’s funny reading this. I am Dutch, and when I hear other Dutch people speaking English I actually hate hearing their Dutch accent.
    If you know any German it should not be that hard to understand, the two languages are very close. March 7, 2012 at 4:25pm Reply

  • Rose D: Completely agree with you about the sexiness of the Dutch accent;). It reminds me of someone very dear. March 7, 2012 at 4:44pm Reply

  • Victoria: I studied German in college, so Dutch is coming easier than I anticipated. Still, it is not an easy language! March 7, 2012 at 4:55pm Reply

  • Victoria: I am curious what is your take on Belgian Dutch vs Dutch spoken in the Netherlands? The former is what I am most familiar with. March 7, 2012 at 4:57pm Reply

  • Victoria: Same here! A very innocent teenage crush. 🙂 March 7, 2012 at 4:58pm Reply

  • carmencanada: Thanks for reminding me of Bela’s site, I’ll add it to my blogroll immediately. This makes me think that whenever I meet non-French speaking bloggers or perfume lovers in Paris, there are moments of pure comedy as I say fragrance names in French and they say them however they’ve figured out how to pronounce them — since much of the culture is online, many of those names have always been read rather than heard. We always do end up understanding each other, but we laugh quite a bit along the way. March 7, 2012 at 5:08pm Reply

  • Victoria: You know, I basically decided that the more languages I begin to study, the more opportunities to embarrass myself I get. But I don’t take it all too seriously, and I use whatever rudimentary language skills I have to learn and improve.

    The language that lends itself well to the embarrassing situations (for me, at least) is Italian, because almost everything can have an innuendo of one sort or another. And if you’ve ever ordered a bowl of “pene” instead of “penne” before, you’ve made yourself immune from feeling embarrassed over your language mistakes ever again! March 7, 2012 at 5:29pm Reply

  • Austenfan: Flemish is softer, it doesn’t have the guttural “g” the Northern Dutch has. Their vowels are more clipped, closer to how the French pronounce things.On the whole Flemish is more conservative, it does not evolve as quickly as Dutch ( or northern Dutch) especially in the way things are pronounced. Regional variations are more pronounced in Flemish as well. Also language has this whole political role in Belgium, which it doesn’t have in the Netherlands. I think people from Eastern Europe will find Flemish easier to pronounce than Dutch. Northern Dutch is the dominant language though, mainly because we have over 16 million native speakers and they have around 6-7 million.
    Both languages are represented by the Nederlandse Taalunie, which also includes the Dutch spoken in Suriname, ( South-America). South-African is not included, but is regarded as a separate language, although most Dutch people will be able to understand it reasonably well. March 7, 2012 at 5:50pm Reply

  • Perfumista8: Thank you for sharing this website, V. What a great resource! March 7, 2012 at 6:24pm Reply

  • minette: this post made me smile. my mom’s french, so i often hear french in her voice in my head. i think it’s how i check my pronunciation. i’ve gotten to the point where i use the french pronunciation then immediately follow it with the american pronunciation when i’m talking with SAs. if i don’t they usually don’t have a clue what i’m asking about. and it’s always such a joy to hear them butcher the french…

    merci, madame! March 7, 2012 at 6:27pm Reply

  • Annunziata: My French is sadly governessy, although my mother (who was half French) spoke the language beautifully. One doesn’t know whether to laugh or wince at the ‘boyz de jazmine’ — argh! I have just spent many months trying to persuade the other dressage riders I know that ‘volte’ rhymes with bolt, colt, or, as a last resort — dolt. They continue to insist on saying volt-ay because it sounds more French to them. I have given up. I calm myself with Ormonde Jayne Woman. — Annunziata March 7, 2012 at 6:31pm Reply

  • Victoria: It is a terrific resource, isn’t it? March 7, 2012 at 6:38pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, sometimes I have to do that too. It is just that most SAs aren’t taught anything about perfume, much less how to pronounce names properly. I place the fault solely on the brands and the retail structures. March 7, 2012 at 6:41pm Reply

  • Victoria: “volt-ay because it sounds more French to them”
    🙂 It took me a whole to get used to the fact that in French you don’t pronounce sometimes as much as half of the word! March 7, 2012 at 6:43pm Reply

  • Victoria: It is probably like French spoken in Quebec, where it also remains much more conservative.
    Thank you! What an interesting overview! March 7, 2012 at 6:45pm Reply

  • behemot: I try to pronounce all French names of cosmetics and fragrances in..French, so here in the US a lot of sales people correct me, repeating these names with English pronunciation 🙂
    I mentioned the name of your blog to someone here, and they did not understand. I spelled the name and , they were , yes, I know boyz… March 7, 2012 at 9:13pm Reply

  • Victoria: Ha ha! I have to do the same thing. Or else to show it written down. When I created BdJ, I didn't even think that anyone would even read it, much less talk about it. So, it never occurred to me that I will be one of the "Boyz." 🙂 March 7, 2012 at 9:18pm Reply

  • hongkongmom: I am originally from South Africa…I don’t like Afrikaans, to gutteral ?spelling?…and sadly Dutch is quite similar. However out of the two, I prefer Dutch:-) March 7, 2012 at 10:47pm Reply

  • hongkongmom: I won’t even get started on the Chinese pronunciation. Sometimes it is impossible to understand! it is also humorous to hear the Chinese salesladies at guerlain, who have been “taught” and “trained” how to pronounce them buy a Paris team!
    Thanks for the link…I replayed it again and again and again….so beautiful March 7, 2012 at 10:52pm Reply

  • behemot: You were so modest thinking nobody will read BDJ, but I can relate! March 8, 2012 at 12:12am Reply

  • behemot: I would love to hear them! March 8, 2012 at 12:13am Reply

  • Wendy: Ok, I have to butt in here, because in the Netherlands there is also a big difference between the Dutch spoken in the Northwestern parts of the Netherlands, and the East and especially the South. There are many regional dialects, and those of the South have even more variations than in the other parts. Theirs is a very soft spoken dialect (without the harsh G), and has been heavily influenced by French (in the Southwest) and German (in the Southeast), given us (yeah, I admit,I am from the Southwest) a big advantage over the rest of the Netherlands when having to speak French, German and quite possibly also English. Just my two cents here! Love this post by the way! Cheesr, Wendy March 8, 2012 at 2:55am Reply

  • Maja: I teach Italian actually and double consonants for foreigners are quite a challenge, I agree. 🙂 But not as mush as long vowels for Italians who have hard time pronouncing sheet and beach in English. That’s almost a classic 🙂 March 8, 2012 at 6:07am Reply

  • Victoria: 🙂 Well, those are the things one learns with time. These days the double consonants aren't posing troubles for me, but 15 years ago when I started learning Italian, I remember that they were pesky.
    Although not as pesky as the verb tenses!
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile March 8, 2012 at 8:54am Reply

  • Victoria: I'm enjoying this discussion very much! The way people speak, how the pronunciation and word usages changes–all of that is so fascinating. Learning a new language is really learning a way to see the world differently.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile March 8, 2012 at 8:59am Reply

  • Victoria: Me too!
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile March 8, 2012 at 8:59am Reply

  • Victoria: Glad that you enjoyed it as much as I did!
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile March 8, 2012 at 9:01am Reply

  • Victoria: Some guttural languages can be beautiful. I loved studying Arabic, although it left me with a sore throat at first.
    I love the sound of Hebrew very much as well. The guttural elements combine so beautifully with the lilting ones.
    Afrikaans, on the other hand, is not something I'm familiar with. Off to search for some clips on youtube.
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile March 8, 2012 at 9:04am Reply

  • Andrea: When I go to the website, I expected to hear pronunciations, but did not… I am using an iPad. Am I doing something incorrectly (I just tapped on the named I wanted to hear read in French) or is it because I am not on the laptop computer? I’m not very technologically inclined, and my teens are not here to help at present! March 8, 2012 at 2:21pm Reply

  • Victoria N: It is fascinating that depending on our background we can be oblivious to language toe stubs like this one. For example, I speak Freach and so it hasn’t even occurred to me until now that “bois” can be mispronounced as “boyz”. Speaking of comedic instances, I remember that when I told my colleagues I had had lunch at La Madeleine, a French-named restaurant chain, and happened to pronounce it properly, all I got was blank stares. Luckily, we quickly resolved the confusion and laughed about it. March 8, 2012 at 2:52pm Reply

  • Victoria: It is upon iPad, I think. Click on a "play" button (looks like a small triangle) rather than the name itself. If you don't see what looks like a media player, then it means that your iPad doesn't support the feature.
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile March 8, 2012 at 3:06pm Reply

  • minette: i wonder if part of the trouble is that the only other word they ever see that’s close to “bois” is “boise” as in boise, idaho?! that sounds like boyzee over here, so yours should, too! ha. March 8, 2012 at 5:06pm Reply

  • Victoria: I’m in tears, laughing.

    On the other hand, maybe I should get some male contributors, so that I can truly live up to my “Jasmine and the Boys” sound of BdJ in English. 🙂 March 8, 2012 at 5:09pm Reply

  • Victoria: I place the fault with the foreign language education here, which isn’t great. On top of it, an opportunity to learn a foreign language for the American students does not arise early enough. I look at my young cousins growing up in Quebec, and the girls spoke 4 languages by the age of 5. They are not some geniuses either–it’s just that they are exposed to a variety of languages, and young kids just soak them up. March 8, 2012 at 5:21pm Reply

  • Victoria: I remember how confusing English used to be when I first started studying it as a child. As a native Russian speaker, where everything is pronounced pretty much as it is written, I found hard to figure out why there need to be letters in the words if they are not even pronounced. 🙂 March 8, 2012 at 5:26pm Reply

  • Louisa Koulas: Lovely Voice!!! Also, thank you for the translation!!! March 8, 2012 at 5:35pm Reply

  • Nick: I find it fascinating that, for most people, there is no interest in finding out how to pronounce “foreign” language words are pronounced. I shudder at the thought that one would not be able to pronounce Bois de Jasmin which seems very basic French, heaven help them with Myrrhe et Délires or Drole de Roses, or even more complicated non fragrance related french words like Feuilles, Bouteilles, Grenouilles, Souhaiter, Guillaume or Borgueil.

    My partner is American (I am English) and our long running (years and years) and seemingly endless debate is the butchery of English by our transatlantic cousins. Only yesterday we had the debate over Cosmos, which does not rhyme with Comatose!!!!! – and how the hell does one get Boo-ee from Buoy??????? I could go one forever………..

    As I remind my partner, I am English the language is English – end of argument (even if I am in error, which almost never happens :)) March 8, 2012 at 12:38pm Reply

  • Victoria: You’re welcome! 🙂 Bela’s voice is very lovely. March 8, 2012 at 10:53pm Reply

  • hongkongmom: i love arabic and hebrew too..its a different guttural sound…let me know what u think! March 9, 2012 at 2:52am Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: Doesn’t it go something like this: “Bwah duh jhahzmeeen?” prep school French was a long, long time ago. ‘Boyz du Jazmine’ does sound like a cheesy boyband or a hip-hop florist. And while on the subject of linguistics, I have to confess that trying to learn even a few words of Italian, to my mind and my ear one of the most melodious and gorgeous of all the Romance languages,for a story assignment was the sibgle most humbling experience of my life! I spent weeks listening to Berlitz tapes, and nothing would stick! I called a friend who speaks several langauges, but alas, none of them Italian, and cried over the phone because I had never felt so stupid before!To this day, my only reliable Italian is ‘Tante piacere’ which means, I am pleased to meet you, and of course, fettucine alfredo. Luckily for me and all us liguistically impaired Americans, Italians seem to think it’s cute when we fumble attempts to speak their language and I have dined out well on my apparent inability to learn Italian. But, I will not surrender; Italian is too gorgeous a language to forgo, and I am too stubborn, so I am giving Rosetta Stone a shot. But, I leave you with this: Richard Burton once said of Elizabeth Taylor “She only knows one word in Italian: Bulgari.” March 9, 2012 at 5:38pm Reply

  • Victoria: Don’t I have a book recommendation for you: La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World’s Most Enchanting Language by Dianne Hales! It is so well-written, and whether any Italian stuck or not, I guarantee that you will enjoy her passionate tale of learning a new language. March 9, 2012 at 5:45pm Reply

  • Undina: Regrettably it doesn’t play on iPad 🙁 (I used to check it out daily but since I switched to using iPhone/iPad for my RSS feeds reading I cannot listen to those.) March 9, 2012 at 8:01pm Reply

  • Alnysie: I’m sorry, I’m late to the party, but what do you mean by that? Conservative in what sense? As a native French speaker from Quebec and a language lover/linguistics nerd, I’m respectfully doubting that statement! 🙂 March 10, 2012 at 10:31pm Reply

  • Victoria: Glad to meet another language lover and linguistics nerd! 🙂 Once I left the university, I don’t meet many like us anymore.

    I was mostly thinking pronunciations (as that’s what we were discussing about Flemish Dutch), but definitely not in terms of language dynamics. But of course, I am happy to concede that point as well to someone who knows the language much more intimately than I do.

    Speaking of languages, if you have not read “Babel No More,” I highly recommend it! March 12, 2012 at 9:46am Reply

  • Alnysie: Thanks for the suggestion! Discourses on the differences between French from France and French from Quebec (the idea we have of them as being unified ways of speaking, at least) are very political, obviously. For a long time (and often still now) Quebec French was scorned by everyone, among many reasons because some people felt it sounded like the way poor, rural, uneducated French people spoke (one man compared my very urban, graduate-school way of speaking to his “uneducated” [his word] grandmother’s, not even ten years ago!) Possibly in response to that, some people in Quebec started saying that our way of speaking was that of the French court in the 17th century, so was more noble and/or more “pure,” “authentic,” than the one(s) spoken in France today. I think all those arguments reflect more the ideas of the speakers than the reality of the languages. As Édouard Glissant wrote, people are trying to see French as a unified language (as opposed to, say, English). Therefore, I’d say, among two speakers who speak differently, one must be more conservative or old-fashioned (to view it one way) or more authentic or close to the original (to view it another way) than the other: differences are put on an imagined timeline.

    Sorry for the rant, that was one of the topics of my dissertation that I put aside six months ago, I guess I miss it. 🙂 March 12, 2012 at 9:54pm Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, don't apologize! This is a great subject, and I agree that the political issues make for greater sensitivities on both sides. When my Quebec born and raised cousins traveled to Paris for the first time, they also heard some comments about their accent. And it was only a couple of years ago! However, they took it in stride and had a good laugh about it.
    What you say is very true–sometimes the issue is not with the language itself, but with the way it functions and is used to define communities.

    The topic of your dissertation sounds great! I can see why you still miss it. I miss mine as well time to time. March 12, 2012 at 10:10pm Reply

  • Martyn: You know, I suppose it depends upon what’s familiar to you. If you’ve never been taught French at school, or picked it up while on holiday, then for an American reader the nearest referent you have might well be that place in Idaho called Boise, which I believe is pronounced Boy-zee.

    The one US usage that really does grate on my English-English ears is the pronunciation of first-syllable vowels as long vowels – hence Coe-lin Powell (rather than Colin with a short o), or Ay-mad (instead of Ahmad with a short a; but then, why Ah-li rather than Ali … ?) But they’re just locational differences, and not something to lose sleep over.

    We English-English can get it badly wrong, too. I have an old friend who pronounces millet, the cereal grain that is fed to cage birds, as though it were French (mill-ay). I’m waiting for her to refer to my dog as a Whippé! It won’t be long … March 13, 2012 at 10:41am Reply

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