Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Complexity Of French Homophones

If you've ever studied or learned French, then you should be aware that pronunciation, especially with the often silent final letters, can be awkward and frequently very similar. This can be very difficult for those learning the language and, at times, difficult for those who speak it as their first language.

Today's post is brought to you by the letter A.
Some homophones are spelled almost identically except for a diacritic mark. A prime example is the word a, which is the third person singular conjugation of the verb avoir meaning "to have", and à which is a preposition meaning "to", "at", or "in".

It should also be noted that ai, the first person singular of the verb avoir, is almost exclusively found contracted with the word je, ("I"), in the form j'ai, and is pronounced the same as the verb's singular subjunctive forms as well as third person plural (j'aie, tu aies, il/elle/on ait, ils/elles aient respectively). Not to mention being a homophone of the second and third person singular of être, meaning "to be".

As if the verbs for "to have" and "to be" having multiple conjugations that are homophones wasn't awkward enough, the words for "or" and "where" are also homophones, and very nearly homonyms, as they are ou and  respectively.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of French homophones but merely a few examples of those that we find to be the most poignantDespite this frequent annoyance, if you are hoping to learn French, you shouldn't let it put you off. These awkward intricacies are what makes this Romance language so elusive, beautiful, and interesting.

If you have any good examples of French homophones, tell us about them in the comments below.