Saturday, July 10, 2010


This morning, anyone coming into my kitchen would hear me muttering -

Avez vous boire du cafe? and Vous aimez les cereal?
(both courtesy, including pronunciation, of Google Translate)

This is fun. Kind of. No, really - it is. I find it interesting to think about how the way that we view words -- literally, 'see' them - affects how we pronounce them. I've known for decades the idea that 'if you want to make a (french)(spanish)(italian) word from an english one, just add a vowel to the end'. (Yeah, I know that's not right.) Now, yesterday, I wanted to ask if she lives near a farm, and that word completely escaped her. So we stopped, and hauled out her dictionary (about an inch thick), finding out that in French, that's ferme. Well, I tried to pronounce it as fer-may, and she shook her head. Fairm. Apparently, that trailing vowel doesn't get pronounced. When I thought about that 'just add a vowel' thing, years ago, I wondered if the reason that immigrants added that sound when speaking english -- I'ma going out -- was that in their native language, the trailing vowel was pronounced. Now I wonder if it's actually the reverse. As I say, fun.

Right now, my challenge is to be able to say Avez vous boire du cafe without looking at my cheat sheet. I won't even try to keep my daughter from laughing at, or correcting, me.

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