"Le hibou a de grands yeux."

Translation:The owl has large eyes.

March 28, 2018

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Is there a specific/historical reason as to why it isn't l'hibou?


The "H" in "hibou" is an H aspiré or aspirated H. It is silent, but treated as a consonant when it comes to elisions. So l'hibou is not allowed. Other aspirated H words are "le heros" (hero) and "le haricot" (bean).

The opposite is the H muet or mute H. Also silent, but elisions are mandatory. For example, "l'homme."


So is there a rule to follow that tells you when and when not to use an elision or do you just have to memorize the words?


No rule. You must look up the H word whether it’s muet or aspiré.


Ah, okay thanks!


Would it be appropriate to say that aspirated Hs entail a glottal stop between the article and the noun?


I don't think it's a glottal stop. Just a break in pronunciation.


The "h" in Old French was originally pronounced. Then it became silent and was replaced by liaison. Then an influx of Germanic words were added to the language, which brought "h" back. Then these new "h"s became silent as well but did not get liaised!

The original Vulgar Latin/Old French "h"s are now "h" muet, and the newer Germanic "h"s are "h" aspiré. That's why different words follow different rules. Unless you're really interested in the etymology of each word, it's best to just remember the words individually.


hibou starts with an H aspiré like, le haricot (the bean) and la honte (the shame).

hôpital starts with an H muet and is written as l'hôpital.

See further information here:


pronounciation Zieux gran zieu


The "H" in hibou is an aspiré h, not a mute h.

[deactivated user]

    Most aspirated-h words are derived from Germanic languages. L'hibou is one of many exceptions. It is thought to be onomatopoeic. Ie. A word that imitates the call of the animal. Maybe that's why the pronunciation of the 'h' has endured.


    By audio only, is there a difference between "de grands yeux" and "deux grands yeux"? I can't hear any difference. Any help to distinguish the two would be appreciated.


    Historically, yes, but in modern French, there is often no difference. I found this extremely clear video which explains why: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYnIuVcKTHA (note that "de" traditionally has a [ə] schwa or mute-e sound, while "deux" has a [ø] sound)

    Here is a written explanation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_phonology#Schwa


    Those are fantastic links! Thank you!


    I think that's why the e is often mute within words when pronounced by French natives in words like:

    maintenant (maint'nant) , petit (p'tit), etc.


    Like the previous comment said, "de" should be a schwa and "deux" should be a slashed o (ø). Though the IPA on Wiktionary doesn't support it, I think there should also be a difference in stress, with de being unstressed (the noun is the focus) and deux being a slightly longer vowel.


    So helpful comment.


    I thought owl was choutte


    Quite wonderful! The female owl is la chouette, while the male owl is le hibou. Who knew? More importantly, who knows besides the owls? I learned this reading Harry Potter in translation, and owls, m and f, figure prominently among the magical. Harry's Hedwig, a snowy owl, is la. Good place to go, a lot of colloquial conversation at about an 11 year old level.


    That is not correct, sorry. They are different animals. Les hiboux ont des aigrettes de plumes sur la tête. (They have tufts of soft hair that look like ears on their heads.) Les chouettes, such as the barn owls, don't have them. I believe what you are referring to is simply the gender of the words in French.


    why wouldn't it be des grands yeux instead of de grands yeux?


    Indefinite article (du/de la/des) becomes just "de" when the adjective precedes the noun.


    On the question immediately preceding this one, DL would not accept grand for large. Yet here it uses grands for large. Totally inconsistent.


    It depends a lot on the context because "grand" does not always mean "large". So yes, there could be inconsistency because this is not a one-to-one translation.


    I though the word for owl was Chouette?


    There are two words for owl in French, corresponding to two kinds of owls. "Un hibou" et "une chouette". The Duolingo mascot has egrets on his head, so he's un hibou.



    He is le hibou, while she is la chouette. How do you tell owls apart, who have next to no sexual dimorphism?


    Why not "big eyes"


    Is there a reason not to use "les grands yeux" in this sentence? Because I have seen a sentence in this skill use "les pattes" when talking about the penguin's feet.


    The articles in front of body parts depends a lot on the sentence construction. The sentence above is merely about possession. So "has large eyes" is different from "has the large eyes".

    On the other hand, there are sentences that involve reflexive verbs, and those generally involve definite articles with body parts. For example, "Mon chien s'est essuyé les pattes". (My dog wiped his feet.)

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