Learning French in Paris, Leçon 0 – 2

Le Louvre

The Alphabet

The French alphabet is basically the same as the English alphabet but some of the letters have different sounds. To make matters worse some of them have sounds similar to other letters in the English language. For instance I sounds like E to me, J sounds like G, E sounds like A and A sounds like R.

It is, however, important to get them right. Not only for correct pronunciation but in case someone asks you to spell your name or you wish to give them your email address.

A phone conversation might go like this;

Person speakingFrenchEnglish
JohnJe m’appelle John Doe.I am called John Doe.
JanePardon, ça s’écrit comment Doe? Excuse me. How do you spell Doe?
JohnD O ED O E
JaneVous pouvez répéter, s’il vous plaît?Can you repeat that, please?
JohnD O ED O E
JaneMerciThank you.

In the above conversation Jane would probably have spelt Doe as D O I, not D O E. Play the recording below and scroll down the alphabet.

French alphabet recording from Kletters.
LetterPhonetic
A[a]
B[be]
C[se]
D[de]
E[ə]
F[ɛf]
G[ʒe]
H[aʃ]
I[i]
J[ʒi]
K[ka]
L[ɛl]
M[ɛm]
N[ɛn]
O[o]
P[pe]
Q[ky]
R[ɛR]
S[ɛs]
T[te]
U[y]
V[ve]
W[dubləve]
X[iks]
Y[igRɛk]
Z[zɛd]

Another important part of French is the use of accents, grave accent, circumflex, trema and other language constructs. Some of these are listed in the table below.

CharacterNamePhonetic
éAccent aigü[ə aksɑ̃ egy]
à/èAccent grave[ə aksɑ̃ gRav]
â/êAccent circonflexe[ə aksɑ̃ siRkɔ̃flɛks]
ëTréma[ə tRema]
(d)’Apostrophe[de apostRof]
LLDeux l[døzɛl]

These notes are from Interactions 1 Méthode de Française A1.1 and where copyrighted work is used it is done so under the New Zealand Copyright Act 1994.

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