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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It's been a long, long time since I had a linguistics class so unfortunately I can't describe this phenomenon very well, but what is up with pronouncing an invisible E at the end of Bonjour/bonsoir/au revoir? I hear a lot of French people around here in Antibes say it (only with those words) and for some reason it irks me, sounds precious or pretentious, or something.

Anyway, just a silly rant there, I'd love to hear any explanations!
 

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It's been a long, long time since I had a linguistics class so unfortunately I can't describe this phenomenon very well, but what is up with pronouncing an invisible E at the end of Bonjour/bonsoir/au revoir? I hear a lot of French people around here in Antibes say it (only with those words) and for some reason it irks me, sounds precious or pretentious, or something.

Anyway, just a silly rant there, I'd love to hear any explanations!
Sounds only like your regional accent. In Languedoc, they add an extra syllable at the end of words. Some words are pronounced differently. For example, pain (bread for those that don't know) is pronounced peng.

It took me a while to figure out that when my in-laws say "can" (rhymes with ran) they mean quand.

As far as understanding French people, you're lucky you don't live in the Pas de Calais.

You find regional accents and dialects all over Europe. In some parts of Germany, they speak dialects that are almost incomprehensible. If you're ever in Stuttgart, you'll know what I mean.

Cheers :)
 

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When my wife told one of her French friends she was going to Nice, but the friend explained that it was pronounced Niceeh.

I also remember my first visit to Provence and hearing people speak about le "ving". I wrongly assumed they were talking about wine, but in fact the were talking about le vent.

And my friend in Toulouse had to give up her English classes when a new teacher arrived from America.
 

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When my wife told one of her French friends she was going to Nice, but the friend explained that it was pronounced Niceeh.

I also remember my first visit to Provence and hearing people speak about le "ving". I wrongly assumed they were talking about wine, but in fact the were talking about le vent.

And my friend in Toulouse had to give up her English classes when a new teacher arrived from America.
Did I mention the time I visited Edinburgh and had no idea what people were saying? :confused2: I wasn't even sure what language they were speaking. In all fairness, if you visited parts of Washington DC, you might not understand people, e.g, "ahmo"= I am going to. :eek:
 

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Interesting, but I've found the French accents to be much easier to understand than some of the dialects I ran into in Germany. Schwäbisch and Bayerisch are more or less incomprehensible to the uninitiated, as is Schwytzerdeutch (however it's spelt).

OTOH, I LOVE the southern French accent with its "vang" and "beswang" (for "vin" and "besoin"). Just heard a song on the radio - pure honky tonk country and western, but all sung in "southern French" like Nature intended. <bg>

Admittedly, Ch'ti is pretty incomprehensible - but that's clearly a dialiect with lots of words that vary from the "hoch French." When I've had trouble understanding folks in the North (i.e. DH's family) it's because they talk so fast, not really due to their accents.

A friend of mine was raised in the Pays d'Oc (ages ago - she's over 80 now) and talks about lots of unusual words her mother and grandmother used for common everyday things. She also claims that the reason she speaks English so well is that the langue d'oc uses dipthongs (i.e. vowel sounds that shift - rather than the "pure" vowel sounds you use in French). She could be right - her English pronunciation is amazing!
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Did I mention the time I visited Edinburgh and had no idea what people were saying? :confused2: I wasn't even sure what language they were speaking.
You should try a bit further South in Newcastle, the Geordie accent. It's been said that even Geordies can't understand each other :D

Here in Brittany it seems common to abbreviate words and expressions such ahvoir instead of 'au revoir' and cava for 'comment ca va' - very confusing for those trying to learn :confused:

Cheers
 

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You should try trying to understand Auvergnat mixed with "proper" French - it varies even between hamlets and villages 1km apart! Here, anyone over about 45 learned their own local version of Auvergnat as their first language and didn't learn French until they went to school. As far as I can tell, only people who came from within a 500m radius actually understood each other 100% !!! Occitan, the official regional language, has to be learned - by everyone who's interested - learning centre Aurillac - because it's actually an amalgam of all the Auvergnat languages/dialects/patois, and is also applicable towards the south - the Pyrenees & the med coast (Languedoc - langue d'oc - Occitan - where they said "oc" instead of "oui" - as opposed to the north which was Languedoui).

O - & then try Corsica; if your Latin/Italian is any good you might find some similarities but God help you if you try Italian pronunciation for Corsican words; you will be strung up at dawn !
eg
brocchia pronounced brutch (goats' milk cheese)
Porto Vecchio pronounced Porto Vetch or Porto Vek
Propriano - Purpria
Ponte Leccia - Ponto Letch
Querciolo - Kerseeole or Kwerchiol - take your pick
& Heaven Help if you should ever suggest Corsican is a hybrid of French/Italian; it is a language in its own right - with a few English/Arab/Oriental influences as well

Apologies for the mini historical linguistics lesson (was my main interest at Uni :) along with mediaeval languages of "civilised Europe" - Gothic, Indo-Germanic, Norse, etc.)

Incidentally Mittelhochdeutsch and Althochdeutsch help understand "Swisserduetsch" - a bit, but don't help at all with Romansch.

H x

btw: Occitan is pronounced Okssitann
 
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You should try trying to understand Auvergnat mixed with "proper" French - it varies even between hamlets and villages 1km apart! Here, anyone over about 45 learned their own local version of Auvergnat as their first language and didn't learn French until they went to school. As far as I can tell, only people who came from within a 500m radius actually understood each other 100% !!! Occitan, the official regional language, has to be learned - by everyone who's interested - learning centre Aurillac - because it's actually an amalgam of all the Auvergnat languages/dialects/patois, and is also applicable towards the south - the Pyrenees & the med coast (Languedoc - langue d'oc - Occitan - where they said "oc" instead of "oui" - as opposed to the north which was Languedoui).

O - & then try Corsica; if your Latin/Italian is any good you might find some similarities but God help you if you try Italian pronunciation for Corsican words; you will be strung up at dawn !
eg
brocchia pronounced brutch (goats' milk cheese)
Porto Vecchio pronounced Porto Vetch or Porto Vek
Propriano - Purpria
Ponte Leccia - Ponto Letch
Querciolo - Kerseeole or Kwerchiol - take your pick
& Heaven Help if you should ever suggest Corsican is a hybrid of French/Italian; it is a language in its own right - with a few English/Arab/Oriental influences as well

Apologies for the mini historical linguistics lesson (was my main interest at Uni :) along with mediaeval languages of "civilised Europe" - Gothic, Indo-Germanic, Norse, etc.)

Incidentally Mittelhochdeutsch and Althochdeutsch help understand "Swisserduetsch" - a bit, but don't help at all with Romansch.

H x

btw: Occitan is pronounced Okssitann
No apologies necessary as some of us are interested in these things. Occitan is actually closer to Latin than French is and many of the verb endings are similar to Latin. The Franks, who settled in northern and central France, were a Germanic tribe that only later started to integrate Latin. Of course the Normans had their own variety of French. Incidentally, very few people, to include all the Italian Penninsula, actually spoke Latin in Roman times.

There's been a revival here of the Occitan language. We have two signs for our village; Marseillan and Masillhan. If you want to see what Occitan looks like, I bet those of you who can read French can understand this:Massilhan o Macilhan o Marcilhan (Marseillan en francés) es una comuna occitana de Lengadòc situada dins lo departament d'Erau e la region administrativa de Lengadòc-Rosselhon.

150 years ago, most French people didn't speak French. They spoke a patois. It wasn't until the late 19th Century that the Government realized if it wanted to raise a large standing army, they needed soldiers that could understand orders and each other. For further reading see, "The Discovery of France".

My neighbors across the street are Swiss. They have an accent but I have no trouble understanding them. I like the way they speak because of their intonation. If you were to write the values of the tones they use when speaking as musical notes, it would go up and down the scale. The only other people I've heard speak like that were in a little German town called Pirmasens.

I'm in Languedoc but 98% of the people who speak English do not speak it well. This is mainly the fault of the school system which emphasizes writing and grammar, required to pass the BAC exam. Comparatively little time is spent on speaking. In addition to having trouble with "h" and "th", most don't know which syllables to stress.

My Father-in-law doesn't speak English, but I've noticed the diphthongs when he speaks, as Bev pointed out. He probably would have an easier time learning English if he wanted to.

I think I've bored everyone quite enough.

Cheers
 

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No apologies necessary as some of us are interested in these things. Occitan is actually closer to Latin than French is and many of the verb endings are similar to Latin. The Franks, who settled in northern and central France, were a Germanic tribe that only later started to integrate Latin. Of course the Normans had their own variety of French. Incidentally, very few people, to include all the Italian Penninsula, actually spoke Latin in Roman times.

There's been a revival here of the Occitan language. We have two signs for our village; Marseillan and Masillhan. If you want to see what Occitan looks like, I bet those of you who can read French can understand this:Massilhan o Macilhan o Marcilhan (Marseillan en francés) es una comuna occitana de Lengadòc situada dins lo departament d'Erau e la region administrativa de Lengadòc-Rosselhon.

150 years ago, most French people didn't speak French. They spoke a patois. It wasn't until the late 19th Century that the Government realized if it wanted to raise a large standing army, they needed soldiers that could understand orders and each other. For further reading see, "The Discovery of France".

My neighbors across the street are Swiss. They have an accent but I have no trouble understanding them. I like the way they speak because of their intonation. If you were to write the values of the tones they use when speaking as musical notes, it would go up and down the scale. The only other people I've heard speak like that were in a little German town called Pirmasens.

I'm in Languedoc but 98% of the people who speak English do not speak it well. This is mainly the fault of the school system which emphasizes writing and grammar, required to pass the BAC exam. Comparatively little time is spent on speaking. In addition to having trouble with "h" and "th", most don't know which syllables to stress.

My Father-in-law doesn't speak English, but I've noticed the diphthongs when he speaks, as Bev pointed out. He probably would have an easier time learning English if he wanted to.

I think I've bored everyone quite enough.

Cheers
well done :)
 

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Sorry, that wasn't meant to be sarcastic or anything. I appreciate other lingua-philes but hesitate to impart too much tech info; you're braver than I :)

H x
 

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Sorry, that wasn't meant to be sarcastic or anything. I appreciate other lingua-philes but hesitate to impart too much tech info; you're braver than I :)

H x
I didn't interpret your remark as being sarcastic. As this is an open forum with lots of lurkers, there are bound to be plenty of people out there in etherland that would like to hear what you have say.

I personally like to learn about different subjects so I can increase my knowledge as there are many things I don't know about..

As Socrates said:

"I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance."

Or put another way:

"Knowledge is knowing that I don't know".
 

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I didn't interpret your remark as being sarcastic. As this is an open forum with lots of lurkers, there are bound to be plenty of people out there in etherland that would like to hear what you have say.

I personally like to learn about different subjects so I can increase my knowledge as there are many things I don't know about..

As Socrates said:

"I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance."

Or put another way:

"Knowledge is knowing that I don't know".
I leerrrrrv Socrates.
Was a pretty miserable cell in Athens they put him in tho before deciding he was too clever for their own good & calling it a day :(

My take on the above is "the more I think I know, the more I realise I know nothing". If life is an apprenticeship, I'd love to know what happens next ......

H
 
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If life is an apprenticeship, I'd love to know what happens next ......

H
I do know it's not a rehearsal, if it was we would know what the ultimate performance was about - then it would be boring.

Cheers
 
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Did I mention the time I visited Edinburgh and had no idea what people were saying?

Just as well I left Glasgow when I was 18 - at least after 30 years in Edinburgh non-Scots can understand what I write.

Have 2 hours of English lessons with a boy of 15 this week - I don't see it as my job to correct his written French

Ian
 

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Did I mention the time I visited Edinburgh and had no idea what people were saying?

Just as well I left Glasgow when I was 18 - at least after 30 years in Edinburgh non-Scots can understand what I write.

Have 2 hours of English lessons with a boy of 15 this week - I don't see it as my job to correct his written French

Ian
Is that him teaching you English, or v.v. ? :rolleyes:

btw: having taught English and French (tho' not expertly proficient in the latter) & having been a proof-reader/editor, I do see errors in both languages when they're written; it's not necessarily the actual words I read, it's the shape of the words I see, and if it jars, it's wrong, even if I don't know the word itself. Then I look at the grammar, and if there's an inconsistency of agreement or tense, it leaps out at me, even if I can't exactly qualify why. 's difficult to explain to anyone who's not as pedantic as I, but I do think the written word should be in the correct form of the official language of the respective country - unless it's specifically written/expressed in the vernacular (eg Rab C Nesbitt or Billy Connolly).

Is it too late on a Sunday night to get uppity about this?

lol

H x
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I am digging this thread! >former literature and languages student<

When my wife told one of her French friends she was going to Nice, but the friend explained that it was pronounced Niceeh.

I also remember my first visit to Provence and hearing people speak about le "ving". I wrongly assumed they were talking about wine, but in fact the were talking about le vent.
I spent a few weeks in Avignon back in the day and yes, the ving and peng threw me off...and then I went to Québec and found they had very similar pronunciations (just leave off the G), which is strange because, from what I understand, most colonists in New France were from Brittany and Normandy.

And my friend in Toulouse had to give up her English classes when a new teacher arrived from America.
:lol: You know, it never occurred to me (must be typical Yank self-absorption) that our accent might be difficult for French speakers, only realised it after a mock English interview session with a local here who told me he had difficulty understanding me.
 

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I am digging this thread! >former literature and languages student<



I spent a few weeks in Avignon back in the day and yes, the ving and peng threw me off...and then I went to Québec and found they had very similar pronunciations (just leave off the G), which is strange because, from what I understand, most colonists in New France were from Brittany and Normandy.



:lol: You know, it never occurred to me (must be typical Yank self-absorption) that our accent might be difficult for French speakers, only realised it after a mock English interview session with a local here who told me he had difficulty understanding me.
How come I can ask for a hotdog in Paris but have to ask for a chien chaud in Quebec? :confused2::canada:

We Americans have many accents. French people may find you incomprehensible if you're from Dixie. :confused:
 

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How come I can ask for a hotdog in Paris but have to ask for a chien chaud in Quebec? :confused2::canada:

We Americans have many accents. French people may find you incomprehensible if you're from Dixie. :confused:
It's perro caliente in Spain, hot dog in Mexico :confused:

and if you think Americans have a lot of accents, try the UK, changes from town to town, county to county. At least in the US there is a level of compensation - in Boston the letter 'R' doesn't exist (pahk the cah) whereas in Texas the 'R' shows up when not needed as in errrl werrlls ;)

Interestingly, the theme behind Pygmalion, of Higgins detecting accents at street level in London, was probably true before the coming of mass transport - people didn't move very far and developed very local dialects.

Plus ca change etc,
 
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