When you learn to pronounce English and French you learn letter combinations that could under the best of circumstances be considered "rules" and work 75% - 80% of the time.Originally Posted by Liliana
You tell the learner. "ea" is normally /i:/ as in "bead" but don't be surprised if you find common words that are different. "Learn" is another sound, "great" is another sound and "heart" is yet another sound. /i:/ can also be "e" at the end of a word like "he, she" but don't consider that normal. /i:/ is not "i" which is usually /I/ like "fit" or often /ai/ if there is a final /e/ at the end "white". It's confusing. All of these have historical reasons but learners and children will be confused if you go into that.
For French you say things like don't pronounce any consonant or unaccented "e" after the last strong vowel in a word. That makes the last syllable seem silent. "Respect" is [rƐspƐ]. Yet, don't be surprised if this rule of thumb is broken too. The sound /Ɛ/ can be written (e + 2 consonants, è, ê, ë, ai, ei) in a word or (ais, aît, êt, ès) at the end. That's just one example. We could go through all the vowel combinations...
You can learn to read English and French rather easily with these rules of thumb readily available on the net, but there are always doubts fueled by the exceptions that seem to make no sense if you are not a linguist. Words never seen before are badly pronounced by learners and native speakers alike. If the word is learned orally there is no real way to know how to spell it. In French that's wondering what the unpronounced element is. Should I add e, t, x, s, ct, eaux, aient. What? In English, which vowel is it? Is that the rule or the exception? This doesn't happen in phonetic languages. An Italian word is what it is (well, they do need to add some accent marks )
For English or French native speakers it seems rather easy all of this because they have spent their whole life digesting their language spelling and if they read "sean" it is "Shawn" and not "seen". But it cannot be done in a couple years. You need dictations, spelling bees and long hours dedicated to it in elementary school.
But... we can see clearly that /ri:spƐkt/ and /rƐspƐ/ are both the same word in origin "respect". Maybe not so with "rispetto and "respeito".
There really is no compromise.