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Re: E and e

From:Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Date:Monday, April 7, 2003, 8:55
En réponse à Christian Thalmann <cinga@...>:

> > That's why I insisted on a front vowel following. >
But that doesn't change the strangeness of the distribution :) .
> > I'm afraid the Robert also agrees with me on all > the examples of "ai" that I quoted in my previous > post. =P
Then I dare say the Robert is completely wrong here! Seems like the Romands have stayed truer
> to "official" French than the French. =)
Not at all. "Official" French has only [E] for "ai", without alternation. (Unless
> you were to count things like "septante", "oussi", > "envoir" (for "au revoir") or "qui c'est qui", > which my mother uses... {I don't.}) >
LOL. "Qui c'est qui" is common in French dialects and baby talk :)) .
> I guess if you're going to use accents anyway, you > might as well choose the one that matches the > pronunciation, thus è -> é. Changing ai -> é > would be a harsher intrusion though, which might > be why it's not done in Academic French. >
It's not done because it's not how it's pronounced, that's all. The accent change has *already* been done for those where the alternation exists. It's just that the alternation appeared early, when "ai" still represented a diphtongue. And when "ai" monophtonguised, it did into [E], without alternation.
> Does Academic French represent an older stage in > the development of the language, or simply a > dialect that was made official?
Academic French represents only the written language (along with a pronunciation guide), which can be indeed considered to be an archaising form of French. In the former
> case, it would seem as if the contemporary French > were "retro-engineered" to fit the orthography, > since è is treated differently from ai, although > they both represent /E/.
It is *not* treated differently. It just happens that the /E/ written "ai" and the /E/ written "è" have different origins, and thus a different behaviour is just normal. Contemporary French has not been "retro-engineered". It just followed its normal evolution, and we are in a case where the orthographic differences are actually useful. IIRC, linguistic
> evolution isn't supposed to be aware of notation. >
Not completely true. But the point here is that it's indeed unaware of the notation. It just happens that the notation fits well the evolution here. Christophe. It takes a straight mind to create a twisted conlang.