- Des “silent letters”, il y en a aussi en anglais; je vous renvoie à la chanson grandiose de gonnarolla, “Silent letters” sur you-tube: ici.
- J’ai envie de dire, faisons de la phonétique historique et du latin quoi! Les lettres silencieuses et l’orthographe n’auront plus de secret pour nous!
I have an issue with the blue slice of the chart. “Vowel combinations that sound like none of the vowels involved” – you mean vowel combinations that don’t sound at all like their equivalents in English. If I were a native French speaker, I’d be all, “why is <oi> pronounced [oʲ] in English? C’est ridicule!” Yes, French has “o” and “i” but I doubt any French speaker thinks “o+i” when they see “oi”. Or “e+u” when they see “eu”. They just think [wa] and [ø] (or [œ] if followed by a coda).
Besides, at least French is pretty consistent with <oi> being [wa]. English <ough>, on the other hand… through, though, rough, plough, cough, thought. Thorough and hiccough if you speak British English. Coughlin if you pronounce the <gh> with a [k] or [g]. And “slough” itself has three pronunciations depending on what you mean.
End of rant: I get so annoyed when people pick on French orthography just because it has a bunch of silent letters and has different phonetics for the same orthographic symbols than English. It’s actually a very consistent and predictable system if you just bother to learn some basic rules. Yes, even the silent letters. In fact, French kids (as well as German and Spanish kids) rely much more heavily on phonological processing, i.e. mapping grapheme to sound, when learning to read, much more than English kids do.
(P.S. Learning the historical development of French really does explain a lot of its orthography ‘quirks’, regular or exceptional.)