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2 Comments

  • Nice to see Bellows getting a well-deserved plug. I have a Bellows French Dictionary, first published in 1910, though my copy is a later printing of the third edition. It’s a source of almost limitless fascination as a document of social history. Like your German one, it marks words such as midwife, nurse and ship as feminine in English, while surgeon, connoisseur and champion are masculine, along with professor, officer, minister and director, despite the fact that director is translated as directeur -trice. Cook gets the [&f] note, but not cousin, which is given as cousin -e, while spouse is masculine, translated as époux, and then appears in italic and is translated as épouse. Time-servers are masculine, of course, as are tipplers, drunkards and wasters – though he may well be right about those. I’m sure a corpus search would largely support him.

    English words beginning with ‘th’ are preceded by either faib or fort, depending on whether the pronunciation is /ð/ or /θ/. The introductory matter admits that “The th is proverbially difficult… yet with the simple assistance given under the heading TH and the corresponding marks of ‘fort‘ or ‘faible‘ opposite each word, any Frenchman can sound either of these combinations very nearly as it ought to be sounded.” The simple assistance he mentions is the instruction to “…pronounce the French words ‘Sel’ and ‘Zèle’ while putting the tip of your tongue between your teeth”. Oh that it were that easy!

  • Thanks, Stephen. That’s interesting. In the German dictionary, /ð/ is transcribed as dh and /θ/ as th, hence there [dhehr] and theme [thihm], for example. There’s a similar tip about how to produce these sounds: say the German words Haus and Häuser with the tip of your tongue between your teeth. It doesn’t tell you that should restrict this manoeuvre to the articulation of the /s/ and /z/ respectively, and not try to say the complete words with your tongue between your teeth!