Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Le schwa français (was: barbarisms)

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Friday, May 18, 2001, 5:40
At 7:07 am -0400 17/5/01, John Cowan wrote:
>Lars Henrik Mathiesen scripsit: > >> For French words, it's 'last syllable pronounced in French'. >> Guillo"tine, ge"le. However, any French silent -e came to be >> pronounced in Danish (as schwa), which leads to lengthening of the >> preceding (stressed) syllable. > >Or perhaps "was borrowed before French dropped final schwas"? When >did that happen, anyway? It must be recent, because they are still >pronounced in French singing, even in children's songs.
Not just final shwa, but shwa generally, cf. de l'eau [dlo], cheval [Sval] etc. The process began, apparently, as early as the 14th century. But it is one of the delights of French, that shwas are merely dormant; they are, indeed, normally pronounced in verse, whether "serious grown-up" poetry or in nursery songs. They also get pronounced in ordinary speech, sometimes in accordance with the so-called "loi des trois consonnes", which says that when /@/ is preceded by two consonants and followed by a third, it must be pronounce, e.g. presque pas, notre père - and sometimes not in accordance with it :) As one book I have puts it: "No attempt can here be made to discuss the many anomalies, fluctuations and contradictions which the treatment of _@_ presents. They result not only from the conflict of inherited habits of speech with new tendencies, of the written word with the spoken, of the word as a separate entity with its role in the speech-group; they exist as between different classes of the community, and the occur in the speech of one and the same cultured person." ..and later the author writes: "We have here but one of the many features which give to the French language its flexibility and its adaptability to the mood and temper of the speaker." I couldn't put it better myself. Vive le français! Ray. ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================