Top 10 Explanations Behind Strange French Pronunciations

We’ve already told you about words that aren’t spelled the way they sound, but we’ve never told you WHY they’re pronounced differently. Well, there it is ! That’s it ! That day has arrived! YOUHOUUUUUUUUU!

1. Why is “second” pronounced “second”?

As the other would say: “That’s a funny question!” “. But honestly, it does not intrigue you, you, this “c” which is pronounced “gu”? Well, know that “second” actually comes from the Latin “secondus”, pronounced with the sound “K”, and meaning “next”. Over time it lost its final “us”, then was orally distorted. Surely for practical questions and a simpler pronunciation, “second” became “segond”, while retaining its written form.


Top 10 Explanations Behind Strange French Pronunciations

2. Why is “woman” pronounced “famme”?

“Woman” also comes from a Latin word: “femina”. The latter was pronounced by accentuating the first syllable: “fe”. Here too, the current pronunciation of the “e” in “a” is simply related to centuries of evolution of language. A thousand years ago, we said “féém” with a long “é”, and we wrote “feme” or “woman”. Over time, the “éé” became a nasal “an”, then an “a”. On the other hand, and as for “second”, its written form has not followed the changes.

3. What about “frequently”?

Think carefully, and you will certainly find plenty of words, ending in the same way and containing an “e” pronounced “a”. I am helping you ? Ok: differently, consciously, previously, obviously, intelligently,… Do you see their common point (besides their final writing)? Yep, those are adverbs! However, all the adverbs ending in “emment” are pronounced “emment”. QUITE SIMPLY !

4. Why is gageure pronounced “gajure”?

Ok, it’s not a word we use every day, but it deserves to exist! In “gageure” the “e” is mute, but not useless: it gives the sound “je” to the “g”, as in “Georges”. Smart!

5. Why do we say “Brusselle” for “Brussels”?

Never pronounce “Brukselle”. NEVER. Unless you want to alienate all the Belgian people. In fact, “Brussels” comes from the Dutch “Brussel” (pronounced “Brysel”). CQFD.

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6. And for “Auxerre”?

“Auxerre” comes from the Latinized Gaulish Autissiodorum or Autessiodorum, written, in all cases, with two “s”. It was not until 1469 that the letter “x” appeared in municipal titles. It imposes itself little by little, quite stupidly, because it allows copyists to save time! A bit as if, in a few centuries, “bcp” would become the correct spelling of “many”, what. Unlike “woman”, it is therefore the pronunciation that does not change while the writing varies!

7. Similarly, in “sixty” why is the “x” pronounced “ss”?

Because the letter “x” is a fat jerk who doesn’t know what she really wants. Suddenly it’s not pronounced, suddenly it’s “ks”, another time it’s “z”, then it’s “s”,… STOP. Let’s permanently remove this letter from our alphabet and take a thorn out of our way. Please.

8. Why do we remove the “o” in speaking?

There was a time, in the 16th and 17th centuries, there were two spellings: “fan” and “faon”. The “o” was added to etymologically approximate the Latin “fetonem”, which became “fatone”. It was also, at the time, a way of getting closer to the words “peacock” and “horsefly”. Good after, fortunately we screwed up this “o”… Would miss that “fan” describes both a groupie and the baby of a deer. Go explain that to foreigners who are learning our language!


9. Why is “wagon” pronounced “vagon”?

“Wagon” comes from the Dutch “wagen” which means “carriage” and is pronounced “vagen”. Way to complicate the chain a little: it was in fact the English who were inspired by the Dutch, then the French who stole the word inspired by the Dutch from the English. You see ?

10. Why is “doing” pronounced “fesant”?

There is a lot of confusion around this question, but it could be a simple mistake! According to this hypothesis, the Parisians of the 16th century pronounced “fesant” instead of “faire”. The error would then have spread until it became the norm.

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