dimanche 11 mars 2012

French people pronouncing or not pronouncing 'h' at the start of a word

There is a strange phenomenon that happens with French people and the letter 'h'. Since they are used to not pronouncing it at the beginning of a word in their own language, eg hôtel is pronounce otel, they tend to not pronounce it in English either, ie house becomes ouse. OK fair enough, that's understandable...

What is not understandable is, they seem to add on (and pronounce) a mysterious 'h' sound to the start of various words that begin with a vowel. I noticed this ever since I started learning French and having Skype chats with French people over the internet.. then I noticed it when I was teaching English in French, and now, hanging around French or French-speaking people, I notice it more than ever. It is SO weird and cracks me up!

For example, I was having a conversation about fruit and 'happles and bananas' came up.. and I was like WTF is a happle? and we both just laughed like crazy.

But then, English - being the annoying language that it is - trips up these poor Frenchies because then we have words like hour where the 'h' is not pronounced. Frustrating, huh? (and that's huh with an 'h' sound ;) )

That got me onto the topic of the letter 'h'. Is it pronounced 'aitch' or 'haitch'? From what I know, only people from lower class backgrounds pronounce it 'haitch' with a strong 'h' sound at the beginning and there shouldn't be one there. To make sure and to prove my point I did a quick search online and found this article which led me to this hilarious Youtube video. Go, watch it now!

What's coincidental (if you watch the video) is that I also had a conversation today where I said I was SURE it was espresso and not expresso. Of course I was right ;)

Ever since I went to school I've been good at spelling... and now I'm so good at it that I can even correctly spell French words that a French person cannot spell :P and don't get me started when people call macarons macaroons!

In the end it's good to be good at spelling. I grew up in Australia where people seem to be proud of the fact that they are bad at it (which drives me up the wall). But I've always found it easy and been good at it. This skill is rather useful... if only for proving others wrong :P


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