Thursday, September 30, 2010

French Orthography

French orthography is one of the challenges of learning French. The French language has many silent letters and sounds which can be spelt in more than one way. Without question, it is not a phonetic language.

The word "eau" means water. Though it is composed of three letters, it has only one sound. It is pronounced similarly to "oh" in English.

The word "dansent" means dance in third person plural as in "They dance." The last three letters of the word are silent. It is pronounced somewhat similarly to the word "dance."

The word "noix" means nut/nuts. It is pronounced as if it were spelt "nwa." Though it has four letters, it has only three sounds.

The word "pays" means country. Though it has four letters, it has only three sounds. It is pronounced as if it were spelt "pei" with the "e" and the "i" pronounced separately.

The word "chaud" means hot. It is pronounced similarly to the English word "show."

The word "doux" means sweet. It is pronounced similarly to the English word "do."

The word "oeufs" means eggs. Though it consists of five letters, it has only one sound. It is pronounced with a mid front rounded vowel and sounds somewhat similar to the English word "uh."

The word "sept" means seven. In this case, the final letter is pronounced but the "p" is silent. It sounds similar to the word "set."

The word "mais" means but. Though it has four letters, it has only two sounds. It is pronounced somewhat similarly to the word "may" but with a monophthong as opposed to a diphthong.

The word "oiseau" means bird. It has six letters but only four sounds. The word is pronounced as if it were spelt "wazo."

One of the challenges of learning French is the orthography. Many sounds can be represented with a variety of spellings and many letters are not pronounced. French orthography is thus relatively unphonetic.

No comments: