Saturday, September 22, 2012

Guillaume, aiguille; fille, ville

One of the challenges in learning French (or, probably even worse, English) is that the same combination of letters aren't necessarily pronounced the same way in all words. Spanish, thankfully, is a regular language in that respect, although I think I didn't realized that until several years ago.

The latest inconsistency I stumbled across, in a podcast episode (one of my favored French podcasts), was aiguille (needle). Being already familiar with the sound of the name Guillaume (William) in which the gui portion sounds generally like the English "gee" in "geese", I was surprised that in aiguille it is pronounced "gwee", which I also confirmed with my Larousse English/French dictionary app.

Some words having a similar inconsistency, but which would typically be encountered rather earlier by French learners, are fille (girl), whose ille portion sounds roughly like English "ee", while the ille portion of ville (city) sounds roughly like English "eel".

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