Saturday, 3 January 2009

French homophones pour les fêtes

Coming back from buying desert for our guests at lunchtime I walked past the laundry which had a lovely hand written note in the window saying they were closed "quand raison des fêtes de fin d'année" - it should have said "qu'en raison des fêtes ...".
It made me smile somewhat ruefully as I have often looked over my learnt aurally French which when written down says something rather different - the famous parish newsletter which called the local Catholic parish priest an abbey (abbaye) rather than vicar (abbé).
French, like English, is a language of homophones - think of the problems we have with their, they're and there, and if we're honest most of us get it wrong some of the time. But you can begin to understand the challenge of Bernard Pivot's famous dictées when you realise that most French verbs end in the sound "eh" but that this could be written -er, -ais, -ait, -aient, -ée, -é, -ées depending on the conjugation or agreements (remember those preceding direct object rules you learnt at school- the bane of any French schoolchild's life).
Anyway quand means when, qu'en means because of or for, camp means camp and con you'll have to look up in a dictionary. But they're all pronounced in the same way and that last word is unfortunately the one you're likely to hear most and see written down least. The aural world can be confusing.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

tu est un noob