There are many names and family names in Spanish that contain the combination of vowels "oi" (Roilán, Moisés, Loinaz, etc.). When these names are pronounced in French, the original pronunciation is completely changed. Is there a way to modify the spelling so that I can describe the Spanish pronunciation to a French speaker?


If it is pronounced [oi] as I think, you just have to use a dieresis ¨ (tréma in French). It already exists in French, for instance my first name is Lo‌ï‌c, pronounced [loik], as opposed to Lo‌i‌c [lwak].

  • 3
    Another example: "Moses" from the Bible is "Moïse" in French and "Moisès" is Spanish. Apr 30 '12 at 19:32

In French, this pronunciation often goes along with y in written text (I think of oyez and “royal”), you can use that if you want to describe it.

It's also the pronunciation of -ille in French, which forces the i out of any bigram it could form with the preceding vowel, as in “paille” (and arguably, in “corbeille”).

I have the feeling there's something about half-vowels missing in this answer, but I can't type what I don't know about.

As @Evpok mentions, if you want to force the spelling to be well-pronounceable, use a dieresis on the i, but I'm not fond of this solution. You'll have a hard time explaining it's a Spanish name if you add this kind of punctuation to it¹. I'd just introduce it well-pronounced, or correct the first one mis-pronouncing it, and that'd be a good occasion to discuss foreign pronunciation or proper nouns, maybe.

¹ dieresis in Spanish are rather uncommon, to say the least.

  • The only two words my dictionary know that contain oille are oille (old) [ɔjə] and boille (swiss) [bɔjə], are you really suggesting it would be sounded [oi] by French speakers?? Jan 10 '13 at 12:42
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    Btw, the OP never said it would change the spelling of these names. The question is clear, he wants to know how this same combination of sounds could be written in French in order to explain how it is pronounced, is the perfect answer. Jan 10 '13 at 12:47
  • Note to readers: ill is usually sounded either [j] or [il]. Jan 10 '13 at 13:04
  • 1. If I didn't mention them, it's because in this particular case, I have no idea, but I'd probably pronounce them like “oy”, yeah. For 2 words I never heard about before, one being foreign, I'm not changing my rule of thumb. ❚ 2. Even though I'm not getting what's it in your comment (a he or “putting a dieresis” ?), if “Is there a way to modify the spelling” isn't about changing spelling, je sais pas ce qu'il te faut. ❚ 3. Thx. 4. Thanks. I'll revise that someday, for now it's really code to me. Jan 10 '13 at 13:26
  • Don't you make a difference between [ɔj] (“oy”) and [oi] (“oï”)? Jan 10 '13 at 13:32

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