August 27, 2011
When you hear a French female voice, not even a breathy one, saying “message de la sécurité …” in your ear, then you might get the impression that she wants to massage your body for security reasons. But in reality, it’s just a public announcement with a warning against pickpockets.
Apparently saying even anything trivial in French sounds very sensual and is extremely impressive – especially for ladies, so while the French language has vocabulary that’s very similar to English, learning proper pronunciation may be especially worthwhile. Besides: it’s peanuts, extremely easy, compared to the difficulty to learn pronunciation of Mandarin Chinese.
Note, that French is used not only in economically underdeveloped countries like France etc., but also in sophisticated countries like Switzerland and Canada. Speaking of Canada: here I am reviewing an iPhone app for learning French pronunciation but this app is available actually in 2 versions: European French (that I review here, as I am Eurotrash myself) and Quebec French aka Canadian French.
Not only is the French language easy because it has the same Latin roots as English and relatively easy to pronounce, but also because French writing is phonetic, which means it is spoken as it is written, or in other words: unlike in English, letters or sequences of letters, correspond directly to sounds.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the app – the “Decoder French Pronunciation” app! Basically it looks like many other apps and offers a list of consonants
and vowels together with pronunciation spoken aloud by a native speaker.
Given sound/letter is explained by use of simple words
and by usage of English words with highlighted sound in them:
Of course vowels are similarly explained.
There is a list of words too:
However, these are just words used as examples of given letter/sound but not a big dictionary or lexicon.
There is also an alphabet with pronunciation of each word in alphabetic way (not in words):
In the help screen there are typical sharing and support options.
And whenever you see (i) symbol (info icon) inside of the app then additional info related to given area appears like this one. For example,
* low price of $3.99
* very useful reference app to go through but also to keep and to refer to it later
* works fully off-line, no Internet needed
* no iPad version, runs on iPad only in emulation
* search in “Consonants” and “Vowels” tabs is appallingly bad – there is no “ABC…Z” on the right side like in Words tab and there is no search (that should appear when you pull downward the list). In other words: to scroll down it requires a lot of time and searching not possible so one must scroll sometimes long to find something.
* some say that limited vocabulary of examples is an advantage but I don’t think so – since French has phonetic writing, there is no need to have full vocabulary to learn pronunciation properly (and anyway Google Translate [free web app] has “play sound” function if you need to hear pronunciation of more words or phrases)
* sounds spoken by a guy, obviously I’d prefer female voice (or an option to change it)
Conclusion: this is one nice app and the maker of this app offers similar pronunciation guides for other languages, so it’s clearly worth buying for polyglots.
To get this app click here:
* European French
* Canuck French