Thursday, October 25, 2012

Egg(s), ox, and oxen in French

Long ago I learned the French word for egg (œuf) and for ox (boeuf). The pronunciation of each of those French words includes the sound of the letter f at the end. I don't specifically recall ever using the plural of either word in French.

Recently, when listening to episode 1474 (Allergies) from, I heard the host Louis, a native French speaker, pronounce eggs (œufs). I was shocked to discover that the f is not sounded at the end for the plural! Indeed, no consonant is sounded at the end.

My Larousse dictionary app confirmed this surprising (to me) pronunciation, and that the same pattern is true for ox (bœuf) and oxen (bœufs). Larousse indicates that the sound of œu changes as well, but that difference is not easy for me to distinguish. Perhaps that change is almost an unavoidable side-effect of losing the terminal f sound?

French podcasts continue to be great for improving my knowledge of the language.

Merci, Louis!

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