For Francophiles, the word "Bastille" is likely to conjure up memories (or dreams) of fireworks and military parades, because the idea of la Bastille
is inherently linked to 14 July - at least for English speakers. Chez les Français
, not so much. Here are 7 things you should know about la Bastille
: the holiday, the prison, and the word itself.
The letter a has two different pronunciations in French, but one of them is disappearing.
One of the most common questions from French students is, "How can I perfect my French accent?" Like many language learning questions, this one doesn't have a simple answer.
While French has the same alphabet as English, some of the letters have little decorations that can make them look and sound very different. In French, accents are essential: they're there for a reason, so you must include them when writing.
In French, E is the only letter that can be modified with l'accent aigu
, the acute accent. With the accent, it may be called either e accent aigu
or simply é
, pronounced [e]. As indicated by the latter, the acute accent changes the vowel's pronunciation to [e].
In English, you can emphasize an important word or syllable by pronouncing it more loudly, as in "It's magNIFicent!" That's not the case in French, which uses the affective accent instead.
The letter combination ai has two different pronunciations for verbs, though this is a matter of some debate.
The pronunciation of the letter combinations ail
is somewhat tricky to explain in writing.
If you want to read and write in French, one of the first things you should learn is the alphabet. If you're wondering how many letters there are, you're in luck: French has the same 26 letters as English. Unfortunately, most of the names of letters are pronounced differently, as are many of the sounds.
The nasal A is represented by the IPA symbol [ɑ̃] and is pronounced [ah(n)].
Some French consonants have two different pronunciations due to a pronunciation feature called assimilation.
The letter combination au
is pronounced like a closed o, as in rose
The letter B is pronounced similarly in French and English, except that it's not aspirated in French.
The letter C has two pronunciations: hard and soft.
The little hook added under the letter c in French is a diacritical mark known as a cedilla, une cédille
: ç. The letter c with the hook is called c cédille