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About Accents

Chers tous,

Believe it or not, accents in French can be as tricky to native French writers as it is to foreign French writers. The rule of using a é for a /e/ or a è for a /a/ does not always work, as in “je protégerai”, where the é is pronounced /a/ in most French speaking regions. A former colleague coming from the south of France with a strong provençal accent just did not hear the difference in sound between the two and simply used é everywhere to be at least right 50% of the time.
The ê just comes into play to increase the difficulty, but here, knowing a little bit of French etymology (or Latin, Spanish or Italian) can greatly help since the ê usually replaces two former letters (ex: the middle age “feste” becoming today’s “fête”).
Most educators recognize the difficulty and are usually most tolerant with accent mistakes than with traditional grammatical mistakes. If not, you’ll have just have to learn them by heart and dream of the times when Rabelais could choose his own spelling.

Amicalement vôtre

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