April 23, 2015

New "slow playback" feature for Utter French!

The Utter French! pronunciation guide for iPhone has been updated with a new feature. On certain screens, a red speaker (playback) icon is now displayed alongside the regular speaker icon. You can tap this red speaker icon to hear the word or example in question played back at a slower speed. This feature should help you to hear some of the individual sounds and pronunciation features mentioned in the explanatory notes.

December 15, 2014

New "graphemes" tab added to the Utter French! pronunciation guide

Users of the Utter French! pronunciation guide for iPhone can now download an update from the App Store. Along with a few minor improvements and corrections, the new version includes a brand new "Graphemes" tab. This new tab lists the various letter combinations used in French and explains which sounds they typically represent under particular circumstances. In each case, the explanation is of course accompanied by specific examples from the app's built-in bank of 1,200 native speaker recordings.

If you view Utter French! in the app store on your device, then you will also be able to view the 30 second preview video, showing the app's various features. The app preview video has also been showcased on the French Language Forum Facebook page.

October 16, 2014

Updates to the French verb conjugation tables

The French verb conjugations section of the web site is being updated with a clearer layout and menu system. Conjugation tables also now include the Past Historic and Past Anterior tenses. Example conjugations:

October 13, 2014

New navigation menus being added to the French grammar section

New drop-down menus have been added to the French grammar section of the site. These will allow easier navigation of the material on this section and will eventually allow the index page of this section to be less cluttered as some of the links are removed.

October 4, 2014

Vote for the new French Audio Quiz icon!

Readers of the French Linguistics site are invited to vote for the icon they would like to see used in the next update to the free French Audio Quiz app for iPhone. This second vote marks the final stage of the competition; many thanks to those who entered candidate icons.

The update, which is due to feature a new "French word of the day" alert, will be released later in October.

The complexity of simple synonyms: the case of "an" and "année" in French

A new article added to the grammar section of the French Linguistics web site looks at the question of when to use an and when to use année to translate the word "year" in French. To the English speaker (and indeed in some cases to native French speakers), the issue of which of these two synonyms to use can be surprisingly complex. The articles attempts to summarise this complexity by highlighting various conditions that tend to favour either an or année. For example, the use of an adjective or quantifier strongly favours année, whereas the use of a "normal" cardinal number strongly favours an. (For what happens when you have a number and an adjective, see the article!)

The article touches on an additional difficulty that advanced students may encounter with these words: their use has actually changed over time, including relatively recently. Therefore, readers of some of the French "classics" are liable to come across uses of the word an in particular which are now obsolete.

October 3, 2014

Update to Utter French! pronunciation guide

The "Sounds of French" tab in the Utter French!
pronunciation guide for iPhone. Today's fix means that all
three words in the list will be read out: even on
iOS 8!
An update to the Utter French! pronunciation guide was released to the app store today. This update fixes an issue caused by an apparent bug in iOS 8 that prevented the example words from the "Sounds" tab from playing back correctly. This tab contains a list of sample words as examples for each of the various sound classes or "phonemes" in French, and prior to the update, only the first word in each list would play back under iOS 8. (If you're thinking that this sounds like a slightly weird issue, programmers may like to check out the aforementioned article for the technical details of why this occurred!)

Apple is evidently busy with a large volume of updates to fix iOS 8 related issues given the number of updates that are being released to common apps every day and the extended time apparently required at the moment for app updates to be released.

As things settle down, look out for feature updates to Utter French! over the coming weeks. At present, the app focuses on audio and phonetic descriptions. An upcoming update will also include more information about how to read French words from the written form ("grapheme-phoneme correspondences" to use the spuriously posh-sounding linguistic term!).