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Despite having spent the past ten years trying to master French -even studying a degree in the language - as a native English speaker there are still words and sounds that are simply impossible.

English is known as one of the hardest languages to master with 44 phonemes, so you would think that French, with their mere 37 sounds, would be a walk in the park. How wrong you are!

Find out how to learn French and work in Paris!

 

 

Grenouille – Mille-feuille

 

You think you’re being très Parisien by eating in a French Restaurant, enjoying a glass of vin and about to order in French but all of this comes crashing down when the waiter comes over.

« Oui, je demande les cuisses de gren-oo-yeh avec la dessert mille-f-oi-yeh ! »

« …. Vous voulez quoi ?? »

What the French don’t understand is…

a) why you ordered such a disastrous combination of foods as they simply don’t compliment each other, and

b) is that the “uille” is ridiculously hard if you’re not used to it. And even worse, you lose your sophisticated Parisian style immediately if you have to revert back to pointing to the menu!

 

Heureux / heureuse

Don’t get me started on my dislike of masculine/feminine words, there’s no logic to them. In French, you can’t even say that you’re happy without messing up!

« Ça va Elizabeth ? »

« Oui, je suis très h-eurgh-r-eugh-se ! »

So, you can’t pronounce the first letter; then you have the double “eu”. H-eu-r-eu-se. What even is that? I have learnt to stick to using content.

 

Serrurerie

Having spent countless seconds searching for other impossible French pronunciations, there was one very obvious front runner. This disaster: Serrurerie. Much to the delight of my French colleagues, I attempted it and the result was quite simply a catastrophe and I refuse to say it ever again. The endless rolling Rs makes for quite the mouthful.

« Où est la ser-rue-re-rie? »

 

Not even close. Try it out with your French friends, I dare you.

Now after having been mocked and abused by my colleagues for my butchering of the French language, I decided to get my own back. English is very hard, there’s no denying it, and with an accent as strong as the French…! Well, laisses-tomber.

 

Subtle – Plumber – Doubt

Simple! Oh, except that letter that’s been thrown in there for no reason.

“William, can yoo check what I wrote? I have a doo-b-te about-”

“You’ve got a what?”

 

Poor little Pierre cannot get his head around the need to add this silent ninja. Why have it if you don’t say it? I see your point and am very ‘eureuse that you mentioned it!

 

Hello

On the note of the missing H, In English you need it.

“ ‘ello ‘elen. ‘ow are you today?’

 

I think you mean ‘Hello Helen, how are you today?’? In order to teach themselves to master the H, the French often let off a forced breath of air and they just end up sounding like they’ve winded themselves!

 

Beach

My favourite mispronounced word. One cold wintery day, my colleague was explaining how he was going on a ‘Lads Holiday’ …

“Six guys an’ az zoon as we arrive at ze airport we’re going to go find a b-ee-tch”

“…Jean-Luc, I worry about you sometimes…”

 

Yep. Said with a French accent, a word that conjures many a happy relaxing thought for an Anglo-phone, becomes a very offense and derogative word. Saying that, I still haven’t corrected him.

 

What words do you struggle pronouncing? Is French or English pronunciation harder?

 

 

 

 

How to learn French and work in France:

 

 

How to find free French courses

 

How to learn French in Paris

 

How to learn French with films

 

How to learn French with “Alliance française”

 

How to find a language partner

 

How to learn French habits

 

How to learn French with “polyglot club”

 

How to attend French courses

 

How to learn what “Alliance française” is

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