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I noticed that very often "vingt" is pronounced without the last "t", whereas when someone wants to be precise or make a point, they will pronounce that "t".

Is that correct?

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Same thing with cinq that can be pronounced with ou without the ending q. I've often heard cinq cent vingt pronounced « sain san vin ». –  Oltarus Sep 18 '13 at 13:04
    
Yeah, that is sooooo annoying! Between 5 with no 'q' and 100 there is only a slight difference in the pronunciation and I often freeze for a few seconds before I finally understand what number the person was referring to. –  Ricky Robinson Sep 18 '13 at 13:31

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

La prononciation de vingt tout seul varie suivant les régions. On prononce le t (donc [vɛ̃t]) systématiquement en Lorraine et dans d'autres régions du nord et de l'est de la France (mais pas en Alsace) et en Belgique (et en Suisse, je crois). On ne prononce pas le t (donc [vɛ̃]) ailleurs.

Il y a une exception : dans les nombres composés (vingt-deux, vingt-trois, …), on prononce le t (partout à ma connaissance) : [vɛ̃t.dø], [vɛ̃t.tʁwɑ], …

Au contraire, on ne prononce jamais le t dans quatre-vingts ni dans ses composés (quatre-vingt-un, etc.), même dans les régions où on prononce le t dans vingt tout court) : quatre-vingt [kat.ʁə.vɛ̃], quatre-vingt-un [kat.ʁə.vɛ̃.œ̃] ou [kat.ʁvɛ̃.œ̃].

Comme d'habitude, la lettre muette t se prononce lorsqu'on fait une liaison : « vingt-et-un » [vɛ̃.te.œ̃], « vingt ans » [vɛ̃.tɑ̃].

Je n'ai jamais entendu parler d'une distinction d'usage par un même locuteur qui ne soit pas liée au contexte (nombre composé ou liaison). Pour dire « à peu près vingt », on dit « une vingtaine ».

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Thank you for your detailed explanation. I've got a remark to make: I'm almost sure I heard numbers in the [22, 29] range, except for 28, also without the trailing "t" pronounced. Could it have been just sloppy pronunciation? –  Ricky Robinson Sep 18 '13 at 15:01
    
@RickyRobinson It may be a regional pronunciation that I'm not familiar with. I can tell for sure that I pronounce [vɛ̃] but [vɛ̃t.tʁwɑ], and so do people around me (Paris area, so lots of people coming from different regions of France) whenever I notice (except for the ones who pronounce [vɛ̃t], who are invariably from the north or east). –  Gilles Sep 18 '13 at 16:00
    
In Belgium, we indeed often pronounce vingt [vɛ̃t], but quatre-vingts [kat.ʁə.vɛ̃]. –  Édouard Sep 18 '13 at 21:09
    
@Édouard Merci. Et dans 81, on ne prononce pas non plus le T ? –  Gilles Sep 18 '13 at 21:16
    
Non, on prononce [kat.ʁə.vɛ̃.œ̃] — personnellement, je tends même vers le [kat.ʁə.vɛ̃.ɛ̃]. Sûrement mes quelques années à Paname. –  Édouard Sep 18 '13 at 21:23

The pronounciation of « t » depends on local areas and not on intonation or sense.

In several regions of France, the « t » is pronounced and for others regions, it's not.

For example, Parisians aren't used to pronouncing the « t ».

For several cases, the « t » is pronounced to do the joint between two words like in this example:

vingt-six (twenty six)

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Like in many other french rules about silent letters, it depends on the first letter of the trailing word. If it's a vowel, you'll pronounce the 't' but not if its a consonant.

for example:

J'ai vingt (a)ns : 't' is pronounced
Vingt (e)t un : 't' is pronounced
Vingt (j)ours : 't' is not pronounced

I know we also pronounce 's' between 'vingt' when the next word begins with 'oi' (pronounced as 'o-a'):

vingt oiseaux (pronounced as 'vingt-zoiseaux)

And there might be some more exceptions that i'm not thinking about right now.

If you're not certain about a certain combination of words, go check out on Google translate and try the 'Listen' function.
It does not depend on accents or areas, it is a pronunciation rule.

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"a pronunciation rule." Pour cet exemple oui ! Mais depuis toujours, des gens apprennent à compter 17,18,19,20,21... Quand est il de cet exemple ? Le 20 est prononcé aléatoirement avec un 't' ou sans !! –  TheLittlePig Sep 18 '13 at 13:53
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i would suggest that in this case pronouncing the 't' is incorrect. There might be some region in europe that pronounce it thought. –  icosamuel Sep 18 '13 at 13:59
    
je préfère l'approche officielle pour l'apprentissage et ensuite voir quelles sont les différences d'accents selon les régions francaises sur le globe. C'est un peu comme apprendre la théorique musicale pour se faire une bonne idée et ensuite choisir un style qui nous plait. –  icosamuel Sep 18 '13 at 14:02
    
Excuses moi de mon engouement, je ne voulais pas paraître malpoli. Je suis de ton avis concernant cette méthode d'apprentissage. –  TheLittlePig Sep 18 '13 at 14:03

When I grew up in the north of France, and at school and in my family, we used to say the last 't'. But when I went to live in the South East, the local people ribbed me because I pronounced this 't'…

Whatever you say, people will understand. Just don't forget to pronounce this 't' when there is a liaison with the next word (everyone agree on this).

Where I live now :

J'ai vingt ans : 't' is pronounced.
Aujourd'hui, on est le vingt : I, and the people around me, don't pronounce it.

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That’s not very clear. Do you want to say that it’s always pronounced when there is a liaison and that, when there is no liaison, it depends on the speaker (especially on the region where the speaker lives)? –  Édouard Sep 18 '13 at 10:04
    
@Édouard, It's probably what was meant. I tried to clarify the answer. Jahnux73: please edit again if I got it wrong. –  Stéphane Gimenez Sep 18 '13 at 12:49
    
I live in the south-east of France and many times, in shops, I said "27", they didn't fully understand and when they repeated the number to me it was always with "t". –  Ricky Robinson Sep 18 '13 at 13:33
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Sorry, i was working ^^ ... Yes in my mind, it's a very subjective way to talk. When there is a liaison, the 't' is used everytime. If no liaison, it's if you want... I talk just about '20' number [important]. For '21->29', we still pronounced the 't'. –  TheLittlePig Sep 18 '13 at 13:43
    
I'm very sorry, since the beginning of this post, i was talking about the only number '20', not about '21 to 29'... –  TheLittlePig Sep 18 '13 at 13:45

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