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I would like to clear up a question I have about the pronunciation of 'j' in the phrase 'bonne journée' in French. Up until recently, I just assumed it was pronounced identically to how 'j' is normally pronounced in french (/ʒ/), as in 'bonjour'. But lately I have been hearing something close to the pronunciation of j as in English or Italian.

The example in Forvo sounds like a /j/ : Forvo

In the following link the phonetic transcription also seems to use /j/

/bɔn juʁ.ne/

Wiktionary

If this is true, then what is the reason for this departure from the usual pronunction? Or is it just an artifact due to fast speaking. I don't want to sound like I'm splitting hairs; I'm just really curious. Any input is appreciated.

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    You can also compare with this one (mousewheel-click it) : Bonne journée. Pronunciation is good, maybe slightly slower than usual. – RomainValeri May 3 '15 at 2:52
  • @RomainVALERI Yes, here I can here the /ʒ/ more clearly. However in real life I here French people say something more akin to /j/ – Arun May 3 '15 at 22:35
  • @Arun I'm afraid you are confusing IPA /j/ and /d͡ʒ/. – jlliagre May 3 '15 at 22:44
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No, “j” alone is always /ʒ/ in french (even though indeed fast pronounciation can twist it a bit). Fixed english page of wikitionnary, french one had the right IPA.

  • India Pale Ale is always right though. – Shlublu May 2 '15 at 20:46
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The sound you transcript as "j" en English and Italian is a voiced palato-alveolar affricate transcripted in IPA as /d͡ʒ/. This sound exists in French when the "j" followed a "d" like in adjoindre. It is very different from the incorrectly reported /j/ sound which would mean something like Bonne yournée like with a Spanish accent.

When the letter "j" appears at the beginning of a French word, it is pronounced as /ʒ/ alone. Many foreign words commonly used in French like the first names "Johnny" and "Jamel" and city names like "Jakarta" are pronounced with a starting /d͡ʒ/. This is never the case with journée.

On the other hand, the ending "e" in Bonne is usually mute in French, outside southern accents. That means when bonne journée is pronounced quickly like it is the case when used like "have a nice day", journée's "j" is not alone but compounded with the previous consonant "nj" making /bɔnʒuʁ.ne/. It is well possible that we (French speakers) unconsciously insert a /d/ to ease the transition between the /n/ and the /ʒ/ leading to /bɔnd͡ʒuʁ.ne/.

  • In real life - as in super markets and so on - I almost hear people saying bonne djornee, which is what set off this whole thing. But as you say it's just a result of fast pronunciation – Arun May 3 '15 at 22:37

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