Hair, air, heir

by Ariane ~ August 9, 2015


A flower hedge at the edge of Monet’s garden

For a French tongue, pronouncing the English words starting with an h is not that easy. The French language doesn’t have this sound, thence it is a special effort to say these words right. I do my utmost. I apply myself. I concentrate. I don’t mix up edges and hedges, ear and hear.

Today however, at the end of my tour in Monet’s garden, a gentleman came to me. He told me that there is a word that comes several times in my commentary that I didn’t say right: heir. Monet’s heir, his son Michel. As a lawyer, he explained, it is a word he knows only too well. It is not like the hair, but like the air.

Wow.  Isn’t it disconcerting? I expected exactly the contrary, that I had forgotten the h. I was very grateful, because it was done with kindness. It felt like receiving a little gift.

My English has improved a lot since school, thanks to the native speakers I meet every day. But very few take the trouble to correct me. I suppose a certain quantity of mistakes is acceptable, just like for you when reading this blog. I’ve improved because I paid attention to the right phrases, grammar, or pronunciation of my interlocutors. But I never realized this very mistake, although lots of visitors have asked me about Monet’s heirs. Because it is not relevant in French, I didn’t notice that the h was missing.

One Response to “Hair, air, heir”

  1. Jennifer Says:

    Ariane- I just had to write and tell you how much I enjoy your lovely diary of Monet’s Garden. I was so fortunate to visit with my family in early July and it was breathtaking. I have wanted to visit since learning of it’s existence back in the early 90’s. It was such a pleasure for me, an American horticulturist and garden designer who loves in the hot and humid southeast ( though it felt surprisingly like home when we were there around July 6!). I think what impressed me the most was the joyful ness of the color palette used throughout the garden. Judging by early photographs, it doesn’t appear that the garden was quite as lushly planted in Monet’s time but it has really remained true to the spirit and aesthetic of the artist. Claude Monet would be so enchanted with garden that exists now. As am I.

    All the best,

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