En réponse à "Douglas Koller, Latin & French" <[log in to unmask]>:

> *Fun* examples that I should've been able to come up with. You're the
> native speaker and you learned it in school that way. Still, I plead
> mitigation. veine, peine, déveine, haleine, and Seine (plus my own
> pleine and reine) all have "-ne" at the end.

So what? It's still pronounced [En].

 neige and seize both end
> in "-e".

Idem. |ei| still marks [E]. |nege|, besides giving you strange looks ("how I am
supposed to pronounce that thing?!") would probably be interpreted as [neZ] or
[n@Z] unless someone would have a reason to think that it's a misspelling of
|neige|. And I know that by experience.

> ai
> è   or
> ê
> and asked how to pronounce them, you'd be pretty likely to elicit an
> /E/, whereas
> ei
> would either get you head-scratching or /Ej/. (but I'M NOT A NATIVE!)

That's why you have it wrong, dear Kou. |ei| is very clearly [E] to any French
speaker who learned to read. It's learnt at the same time as the spelling |ai|.
Both are always taught together. So if he knows |ai|, he knows |ei| too,
without head-scratching. Also, give to a French person an unknown word with
|ei| inside, and it will be pronounced consistently [E], never [Ej] (unless
it's someone who knows a bit about other languages, but then if you show that
person a word with |ai| he will then pronounce it surely [aj]). Finally, I've
seen once a survey on common spelling mistakes, and it was said there that
misspelling [E] as |ei| while it should have been |ai| is quite common, while
the contrary is not, showing that for a French |ei| is more tightly related to
[E] than |ai| (of course, |è| always wins there! :)) ).


Take your life as a movie: do not let anybody else play the leading role.