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Re: More Ere:tas: The fable of the North Wind and the Sun

From:Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Date:Thursday, November 8, 2001, 23:33
En réponse à Josh Roth <Fuscian@...>:

> > When I learned French in high school (in the US), my teacher made a big > deal > about the difference beterrn /u/ and /y/, which I thought was obvious, > but > when I realized a couple of months ago that my dictionary also > distinguished > between /a/ and /A/, and /2/ (o with a slash) and /9/ (o-e ligature), I > was > shocked! It could be of course, that my French teachers did make the > distinctions when they spoke but I just never noticed (and they > certainly > didn't point them out). I can pronounce all four sounds if I try, but if > I > just start speaking French, I don't even know which pronunciation to use > for > which words - I'd have to look them all up. Is the /a/ vs. /A/ > distinction > gone in all dialects, and now that they have merged for you, which do > you > pronounce - are both of your examples above now /pat/ or /pAt/ ?
/pat/ only. The front version stayed. And the distinction is absolutely gone in all dialects of metropolitan France (in fact, in Southern dialects it was already gone a century ago, the Northern dialects were more traditionalist and kept it until one generation ago). I don't know how it is outside French borders though. And
> what > about the /2/ vs. /9/ distinction - is that still made? >
Definitely (though they completely lost this distinction in the area of Montpellier, that's the only place where they did, and it makes their dialect quite recognisable), though it's probably more a phonetic distinction than a phonemic one, since /2/ seems to appear only in open syllables (like feu: [f2]) and /9/ only in closed syllables (like peur: /p9R/). French people still hear the difference though, so they are not really allophones (it's easy to make a French person pronounce a /9/ in an open syllable and a /2/ in a closed one, it just happens that no French word seems to have that, and French people will find it ackward, but still possible to pronounce without any special training). Christophe. Take your life as a movie: do not let anybody else play the leading role.