Getting the Words Out

It can be as simple as ordering from a menu, or asking directions that brings about a bit of self-confidence in a foreign city.

Having the wherewithal to get by in a strange land gives all of us a greater appreciation of what it is to understand another language. Knowing a few useful phrases helps to get us what we need, but having a vast handle on a language’s intricacies ensures the message is conveyed in the way it was intended. Examples of this can be found in our own backyard.

Many of us canucks learn the basics of French at the elementary-school level. Sadly, when not put into practice, it’s often left on a proverbial shelf in our mind. When asked, in French, if we can speak the language many of us would reply with a meek sounding ‘non.’

When reaching for it, a common rookie mistake is replying with: “Je parle un petite Francais,” which translate to: “I speak a small French.” In actuality, the correct reply is: “Je parle un peuThis can be thought of a simple example of how a little knowledge of a language can skew the overall meaning. When accuracy is at stake, it’s best to consult with a translation specialist to ensure the message doesn’t get muddled up along the way.

Another unique factor of the French language that differs from English are the use of accents. These are applied to alter a letter’s pronunciation.

L’accent aigu
The aigu accentpoints to the right and upward. Only appearing above the letter e, it changes the letter’s pronunciation to ay.
L’accent grave The grave accent points to the left and upward. It can appear over any vowel, but it only alters pronunciation when over the letter e.
La cédille In French, the cedillaa little tail under the letter ç. It’s used to give the c an s sound instead of a hard k sound.

It’s niffy how a different language uses its letters isn’t it.