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History of French
French writing
The French alphabet is the same as that of English, though the letter w appears only in foreign words. Grave, acute and circumflex accents are used and the cedilla appears under the letter c when preceding a, o or u to indicate a s sound rather than k.

French spelling generally reflects the language as it was spoken 4 or 5 centuries ago, and is therefore a poor guide to modern pronunciation. Silent letters abound, especially at the ends of words (e.g. hommes is pronounced um) but a normally silent final consonant is often sounded when it is followed by a word that begins with a vowel.

In this process known as liaison, the consonant becomes part of the first syllable of the following word, so that the sentence 'il est assis' (he is seated) is pronounced 'e-le-ta-se'. Although French pronunciation is governed by fairly consistent rules, the actual sounds of the language are quite difficult for the English speaker and a good 'French accent' is something not easily acquired.

And Finally...
As the two major languages of the Western World, English and French naturally have contributed many words to each other. Recent French contributions to English - with the French pronunciation retained as closely as possible - include such expressions as hors d'oeuvre, en route, rendezvous, carte blanche, savoir-faire, faux pas, fait accompli, par excellence, bon vivant, joie de vivre, coup d'état, nouveau riche, laissez faire, pièce de resistance, and RSVP.

In recent years, French has been virtually inundated with English words of all kinds - so much so that the resulting jargon has been dubbed Franglais, a combination of Français and Anglais. A few examples among hundreds are le hamburger, le drugstore, le week-end, le strip-tease, le tee-shirt, le chewing gum, and les blue-jeans.

Most of these have been denied official status by the Academy, but even here concessions have been made. Recently, the Academy approved the adoption into French of le pipeline and le bulldozer - with the strict proviso, of course, that they be pronounced peep-LEEN and bool-do-ZAIR.

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Did you know?
There are no "primitive" languages. All languages have a system of sounds, words and sentences that can adequately communicate the content of culture.
French History
French Speaking
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