L’Alphabet en français
lahl-fah-bay ah frah-SAY. Click below to hear this.
The alphabet in French
Of course you know the “alphabet song” in English! Here it is in French, with a few notes about letters that tend to be trouble-makers:
a b c d e f g
h i j k l m n o p
q r s t u v
w x y z
Voilà la petite chanson
Qui aide bébé à dire les sons.
ah bay say day uh eff zhay
ahsh ee zhee kah ell em en oh pay
kew air ess tay ew vay
doo-bluh-vay eeks ee greck zed
vwah-lah lah puh-teet shah-saw
kee ed bay-bay ah deer lay saw
… There’s the little song
That helps baby say the sounds.
And now for the “problem children”:
e: Yes, it’s pronounced /uh/ when it’s unadorned with an accent. É is pronounced /ay/, but bare-naked e is /uh/.
g and j: They are opposite from what you might expect. G is /zhay/ instead of /djee/ in French. J is /zhee/ instead of /djay/ in French.
k is a foreign letter to the French alphabet. It only appears in foreign words borrowed into French. It’s pronounced /kah/.
w is foreign too. When it appears in words, it is most typically pronounced /v/ because those words are often from the German (wagon, for example). But words like weekend, adopted from the English, are pronounced with a /w/ sound.
y is a “Greek i” (I grec). Never mind that the Greek alphabet has both letters (iota and upsilon). In French, the letter y is pronounced either like i or as a “semi-vowel”, like the y in the English word yak.
And z is pronounced /zed/ in British English, /zee/ in American. Remember the old French film “Z”? That was pronounced /zed/. It was a thriller about Greek politics made by Costa-Gavras, with Jean-Louis Trintignant in the starring role.
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