1

The word "première" is pronounced /pʁə.mjɛʁ/ with an accent on the second "e" in the spelling to reflect the pronunciation.

"semestre" is pronounced /sə.mɛstʁ/, so why isn't it spelt "semèstre" to reflect the pronunciation?

  • ère feels natural as an inherent part of a word (mère père frère) and so does ière (bière prière) and so does the same as a feminine inflection (fière première dernière), but èstre might be unattested. Can you think of any other words that have an accent grave with that ending? Anyway, that's my thought for now; will leave detailed analysis to the next answerer for the time being. – Luke Sawczak Apr 15 '17 at 4:20
3

Un e devant deux consonnes se prononce presque toujours è (semestre, éternel, appelle). Il existe, cependant, quelques exceptions, par exemple solennellement se prononce comme si c'était un a.

Mais il ne se prononcera jamais e.

2

Seuls les e en fin de syllabe peuvent avoir un accent.

Première se découpe Pre - miè - re.

Semestre se découpe Se - mes - tre. Le e se prononce bien è mais comme il ne se trouve pas en fin de syllabe, il ne prend pas d'accent.

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