Accents in French
In French, there are 4 accents for vowels and 1 accent for a consonant.
The "accent aigu" ´ (acute accent) can only be on an E.
The "accent grave" ` (grave accent) can be on an A, E, or U. On the A and U, it usually serves to distinguish between words that would otherwise be written the same, ex: ou (or) vs où (where), "a" (has) vs "à" (to, at)
The "accent circonflexe" ˆ (circumflex) can be on an A, E, I, O, or U. In general, it indicates that an S used to follow that vowel, e.g., forêt (forest).
The "accent tréma" ¨ (dieresis or umlaut) can be on an E, I, or U. It is used when two vowels are next to each other and both must be pronounced, ex: maïs.
The "cédille" ¸ (cedilla) is found only on the letter C. It changes a hard C sound (like K) into a soft C sound (like S), e.g., garçon. It never appears in front of E or I, as C always sounds like an S in front of them.
Accents have to be placed in their proper places, otherwise it is considered as a spelling mistake. (Exception: capital letters are often left unaccented)
Great topic. I think that Duolingo has let me be really lazy about those, because it lets words without accents and I think it is not good. Now I have big problem with it and it is hard to learn it once again.
Especially in timed practice I always just type letters from my keayboard, because clicking with mouse on appropriate letter takes too much time..
Remy, as you are part of Duolingo team, may I ask if you have ever considered having some shortcut for extra letter? Like to make it using Ctrl? Polish keyboard is probably only one that doesn't have our special characters built in it (we have standard English keyboard) and we make those special characters by using Ctrl+letter. Maybe it could work as some extension here as well.
Iustitia, in Windows, in linux/UNIX systems, and surely on Macs the French standard keyboard can be installed (software), which of course gives all the French accent characters, at least on the lower case letters. That is what I use, and it got me through the French language tree, always typing the accent characters. But it can be a bother, as a few of the letters, not to mention punctuation marks, are not where they are on the English keyboard.
I think that (but am not sure if) the standard Spanish keyboard has all of the accents needed. Its alphabetic characters are positioned as on the English keyboard, but some punctuation characters are in different places. However, I bet you do not punctuate when doing timed practice, anyway. :)
The "International English" keyboard is supposed to have the necessary accent marks, but I have not tried it.
There has been discussion of this before on this forum, so if you're interested try a search. Or I can help if you can't find good instructions.
But I like your idea of using shortcut keys. That would be by far the best.
I am trying to learn Alt codes for accents - and have a list posted by my computer for all the accents and their letters. Over time, I'm learning codes for each one, and find they are faster than clicking on the appropriate letter below a sentence in a Duolingo exercise. Besides the accents aren't always available, as in adding to a discussion like this.
"Œ" (capital) or "œ" (lower case) is called "e dans l'o" (literally "e in the o"). It is the fusion of the letter "o" and the letter "e".
It has 2 possible pronunciations:
- the same as the "e" in the pronoun "je" (I), for example in "vœu" (vow/wish)
http://translate.google.fr/#fr/en/vœu (Click on the speaker button)
- the same as the "eu" in the adjective "neuf" (new), for example in "bœuf" (beef) or "œil" (eye)
(Click on the speaker button)
Hello, aigu means "sharp" grave means "heavy". The é is a sharp e, the è is more heavy or low. When is an e aigue and how do you write it? When is it grave and how do you write it?
I use the following rule of the thumb: The french word élève has the two accents in one word. And the accents go away from the letter L between them. Now it is necesseray that you learn to pronounce élève correctly, and from that moment you know which accent to use and how te pronounce it. When it is sharp, it goes up from left to right. When it is heavy or low, it goes down from left to right.