7

I recently asked a general question about minimal pairs (i.e. words that differ by one phoneme) and got a link to a website that provides a comprehensive list of English minimal pairs.

Is there a place where I can find a similar list for French minimal pairs?

  • 1
    I guess this is your third such question, so you might also consider generating such lists yourself. I'm not saying asking if that work has already been done is wrong. :) Computationally, it's not a trivial job. This link (billposer.org/Software/minpair.html) purports to provide an open source (GNU license) program to find minimal pairs in a provided dictionary. You'd want to provide a phonemic dictionary, of course, for phonological minimal pairs. If it's not adequate, you could also examine the algorithm and modify it to suit your needs. – Jeremy Needle Jul 21 '14 at 0:19
  • 1
    You might also be interested in generating your own words (according to some pattern of phonemes, presumably), and then simply checking if they are in the dictionary. Or, and this is based on your original question, you can test people on minimal pairs of nonwords (in something like an AXB task, I guess); for the purpose of assessing their phoneme perception, this option is the typical choice. It helps to minimize the influences of semantics, frequency, lexical neighborhoods, etc. – Jeremy Needle Jul 21 '14 at 0:26
  • Minimal pairs are not used in the teaching of French as a foreign language and you won't find such a list. The only thing you will will find are the odd exercises dealing with one or other pair (of example the opposition between /r/ and /l/; /f /and /v/ etc. The charts on the page I pointed to you on French Language will probably be the best you will find – Laure Jul 21 '14 at 5:52
  • Teaching of French as a foreign language nowadays only deals with the minimum necessary for immediate conversation. So you won't find books dealing with French minimal pairs as we find for English. Over fifty years ago minimal pairs were used in the teaching of reading in France but this method has been outlawed (unfortunately in my opinion) in favour of the visual recognition of words (which has proved ineffective for lots of children). – Laure Jul 21 '14 at 13:49
  • 1
    @JeremyNeedle: I like using real words. Given a phonemic dictionary I have no issue with doing the programming work. Where do I find the computer readable phonemic dictionaries? – Christian Jul 21 '14 at 15:14
1

Moved from comments.

You might consider generating such lists yourself. I'm not saying asking if that work has already been done is wrong. :) Computationally, it's not a trivial job. This link (billposer.org/Software/minpair.html) purports to provide an open source (GNU license) program to find minimal pairs in a provided dictionary. You'd want to provide a phonemic dictionary, of course, for phonological minimal pairs. If it's not adequate, you could also examine the algorithm and modify it to suit your needs.

You might also be interested in generating your own words (according to some pattern of phonemes, presumably), and then simply checking if they are in the dictionary. Or, and this is based on your original question, you can test people on minimal pairs of nonwords (in something like an AXB task, I guess); for the purpose of assessing their phoneme perception, this option is the typical choice. It helps to minimize the influences of semantics, frequency, lexical neighborhoods, etc.

@JeremyNeedle: I like using real words. Given a phonemic dictionary I have no issue with doing the programming work. Where do I find the computer readable phonemic dictionaries? – Christian

That can be a little trickier, and it's language specific. For French, I believe Lexique is a good choice (http://www.lexique.org).

Researchers have also had success using eSpeak (http://espeak.sourceforge.net) to convert orthography to phonemes, for French and other languages (for eSpeak performance figures, see Marian, V., Bartolotti, J., Chabal, S., Shook, A. (2012). CLEARPOND: Cross-Linguistic Easy-Access Resource for Phonological and Orthographic Neighborhood Densities. PLoS ONE 7(8): e43230. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043230).

7

Update: I have cleaned up and organized this list significantly, and it is now available here.


I had the same question as you, and ended up throwing together some perl scripts to scrape Wikipedia's list of the 10,000 most used French words, pipe them through eSpeak to get their IPA pronunciations, then do a simple (completely non-phonetic) comparison to come up with a list of 2921 minimal pairs (well, groups, really).

I talk a little bit more about it on my blog, and have published my perl scripts on GitHub, in case you or anyone else find any value in hacking on them yourself, or to use a similar process for other languages.

The list is a bit overwhemling. I can't imagine 2921 MPs being useful to anyone, but it's a starting point, and it's easy to browse through and find a few that are valid for ear training, I think. That will be my next step!

  • Thanks for doing this! It looks like a lot of work and exactly what I was looking for. To your point of 2921 MPs not being that useful, I think you could filter this to include only vowel MPs and find the MPs that would help most English speaking French learners. To me, consonant sounds between English and French are more similar than different, whereas vowel sounds are more different than similar, and where I've found most of my problems. – liquidki Jan 16 '18 at 23:32
  • I have since created a somewhat curated list here (mentioned at the top of this answer), which groups by vowel sounds, and consonants. I've also added a couple other languages using the same technique, and if/when time permits, will likely add others. – Flimzy Jan 17 '18 at 7:41
  • I checked out the updated list and see the groupings of the vowel sounds at the bottom, super helpful. Thanks again! – liquidki Jan 18 '18 at 13:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.