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Is the pronunciation of "sa" (her) precisely the same as the pronunciation of "ça" (it)?

Does it "feel" the same to a native french speaker, or is it definably, or indefinably, different?

4 Answers 4

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In France the pronunciation is exactly the same : [sa]. But the context will always give you a hint about which one is used.


En France, la prononciation est exactement la même : [sa]. C'est le contexte qui permettra de déterminer lequel des deux est utilisé.

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  • Thanks. I understand about the context providing the meaning. I wanted to checked if it is like "f" (farm) and "ph" (pharmacy) in English, which are pronounced exactly the same, or if a French person hears or feels them differently. Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 7:43
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    @GreenAsJade, it feels exactly the same. Misspellings are common, especially with children. Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 8:00
  • @StephaneGimenez : merci pour la correction! maintenant que j'y pense, dans le Nord, ça ne serait-il pas aussi prononcé [sɑ] alors que sa conserverait la prononciation [sa]? Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 9:14
  • I don't know about France, but in Belgium there are people (me included) for which the only difference between /a/ and /ɑ/ is one of length and it isn't made for all the words which dictionaries say contains an /ɑ/. Sa, ça and çà are perfect homophones for me. Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 13:59
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    @maazza And how would that be different? (Not sure how I would pronounce garson since it's a made up word...) Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 12:48
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The other answer is valid only for European French.

In Quebec, the pronunciation of ça in stressed position (as in "Je veux ça") is [sɑ], but [sa] in unstressed position (e.g., "Ça va", [sa vɑ].) However, sa is always [sa], even if it is stressed: "C'est sa brosse [i.e., à elle] que je veux."

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Well, yes they sound same. But I would say that depends on where you find it in the sentence. At the end, like when to show something, the pronunciation could be frank. The sound is cutt, (like →).

But at the beginning of a sentence it could finish lower (like ↘). In other terms it could be compared to a sinus or square form ending.

For these words that's not so important but this is a good approach for French and all latin languages I think.

In fact, starting with a strong "Ça", like you can say "ça" to show something in a sentence's ending, could be interpreted as intransigent/non-polite. Because the "square sinus" has been used.

The "sa" stay mostly neutral, but owns somes variations only in familiar/street speaking. Because it's feminine, and because it's possessive, it can be used as a punctuation in sentence, a rolling-over or a point of turning in sentence. On this case you can hold the "s" a bit longer and even only on this case finish ↗ with no mouth cut.

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In Québec, there are two pronunciations, as indicated above. But I am not sure that it's stressed vs unstressed that makes the difference. Consider:

Ça [sa] ne fait rien. (Rhymes with « ma ».)

Donne-moi ça [sɑ]. (Rhymes with « chat ».)

Ça [sɑ], ce n'est pas difficile. (Rhymes with « chat ».)

I think that it rhymes with « ma » when it is a subject and with « chat » when it is either an object (direct or indirect) or in apposition. My basis for this is near-native-speaker intuition and consultation with other French speakers.

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