Today, Letitia Jett, the witty, amusing, brilliant blogger behind  a femme d'un certain age , and I, play a weekly game on our blogs. We share our views on our adopted countries, France for Letitia and The States for me, all the while comparing one and the other. We "imagine" a topic to "discuss" and we each publish our thoughts on the subject from our respective sides of the Ocean, never looking "at each other's sheet", so to speak.
There are some things we really love, others we miss. Whatever our point of view, we bring it to you on Mondays. 

This week we are in fact discussing Part Two of our language topic. This time we talk about pronunciation and the tricks errors can play on you...


Years and years ago, my mother was spending a few days in New York City while my father was in meetings and she decided she would take a bus. The fare was 25 cents (I said it was years and years ago...) My mother boarded the bus and heard the driver pronounce something she had never heard- she thought she knew enough English to get around- she was stumped and in fact speechless. The driver repeated the word [kwawr-der]and my mother muttered I am sorry and he repeated the same thing again until some kind soul came to her rescue and said she needed to deposit a quarter of a dollar, 25 cents. Ah bon... she might have understood "quar-ter" but "kwawr-der" , non. impossible!

A few years later we all moved to the United States and, as I have mentioned  before, some of the difficulties we encountered were trying to decipher the new language. After "Hi", the first American word we ever heard, [wawtchawname] was a much more challenging second. It did take us a few weeks "to get it" enough to use it with some sort of aplomb (I don't remember what the resulting Franco-giberish pronunciation was like at the beginning...but I can just imagine.


How can anyone expect to learn to speak a language that has 4 pronunciations for the same syllable- yes, I mean you, "ough"! I mean:bough, rough, though, trough...whatever. And don't get me started on iron: pronounced: I-earn!!! honestly!!! That one took me 20 years to master without fail. 
The list of words I still mispronounce if I speak too fast (one of my fortes) is long and I will only give you a taste.
and a lot of words with an "h" like when and where and whine which my husband Steve insists one MUST pronounce by "exhaling" hard!
On the other hand I do not mispronounce nuclear and, on the other side of the language challenge, Steve does not say areo.port instead of aero.port in French. Bravo.
And speaking of French, I am sooooo glad I did not have to learn FRENCH.
Which is why this week I am even more excited than usual to hear what Letitia Jett, my incredibly talented partner in Transatlantic Paralell, has to say; she has had to learn FRENCH and I am sure she has a plethora of fun stories to tell.

Please leave your comments at Letitia Jett's magnificent "Parallel" post at a Femme d'un Certain Age or below in the petits commentaires
It's always so much fun to discover your reactions and ideas.
Au revoir.


  1. My chere Jeanne-Aelia,

    Hilarious, fun, and oh, so true. It is great we don't know what the other is doing until we see it.

    One of the trickiest words for me for a long time was oh-jor-da-hooey (aujourd'hui) and according to My-Reason-For-Living-In-France I seem to have a problem -- completely unknown to moi meme -- when I say l'amour and la mort.

    There are a host of others, but you know how it goes. . .

    Have a wonderful week.

    xo, Letitia

  2. Anonymous5/7/10

    Yes, pronunciation can be misleading.
    I once asked a French friend of mine who was visiting the states one summer what he would like to do that Sunday. He responded "I would like to eat ass cream on zee bitch."
    After a brief moment of shock, I took him to a beach where he did indeed enjoy ice cream.

  3. Letitia, I am sure you are being much too modest. Do not mix up l'amour and la mort however....
    David McGrievey: that's hilarious! I'll bet there was a brief moment of shock...Thanks for the visite and the commentaire and your great illustrations.

  4. i so love these sorts of stories. i wonder if it's easier to identify (after all these years) your husband's little mistakes in french than yours in english?