Does anyone know when the final T in French words like état ceased to be pronounced. I am interested in making a comparison with modern English pronunciation, in which it has become fashionable, if not compulsory, to make the final T silent in words like 'pocket'. I recently heard the editor of the (late) 'Independent' newspaper trying to drop both the Ts in the word'entity'. He was having a bit of a struggle!

As far as I know in French it is only the final Ts that are dropped.

Roger Ordish

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    This doesn’t affect the validity of your interesting (+1, btw) question, but here in my little corner of English-speaking Virginia, final consonants (“T”s and all) don’t usually start being dropped until after the final trou normand has been downed.
    – Papa Poule
    Feb 4, 2017 at 23:25
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    In English final /t/ after vowels is generally not really "dropped" just replaced with a glottal stop. For example I don't know of any major English accent where "thought" rhymes with "thaw". I don't know if French ever passed through a stage with word-final glottal stops like this.
    – sumelic
    Feb 4, 2017 at 23:45
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    Agreed with sumelic. I haven't yet heard the English accent where it's simply dropped. It does get replaced by a glottal in some UK accents, and it gets heavily de-aspirated or "unreleased" in some NA accents. This phenomenon, notated [t̚] in IPA, means that the tongue articulates the sound but doesn't give the necessary burst of air afterwards that permits a listener to actually hear it. But it can still have phonological effects on nearby sounds. :)
    – Luke Sawczak
    Feb 5, 2017 at 1:35

1 Answer 1


It's hard to tell precisely, but I found this page (in French) that gives an history of pronunciation. (Jump to "IV - Principaux phénomènes touchant les consonnes")

Les autres consonnes finales (ex : t) s'assourdissent au VIIIème siècle, et s'effacent progressivement (ça dépend des consonnes), jusqu'au XIIIème. Le r est le plus résistant (XIIIème).

Other (note: other than "m", that disappeared earlier) final consonants (ex: t) grew quieter in the 8th century, and faded progressively (depending on the consonant), until the 13th century. The r was the most resistant (13th century).

In English, it's very related to the accent, I don't think it has something to do with French.

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    The examples at the page you cite are interesting. But I was surprised: do we really say des aRs for des arcs? I pronounce that c before the plural s.
    – Frank
    Feb 5, 2017 at 3:22
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    @Frank The examples are not always current language, sometimes they give pronunciation like it was at a certain time period Feb 5, 2017 at 3:30
  • Yes, but in this case, they say after the 18th century, in all cases... Anyway. Not a big deal. Very interesting page though.
    – Frank
    Feb 5, 2017 at 3:32
  • @Frank You misread, it says "avant le XIIIème siècle :", the example they give after "arcs" is clearly aged language (the part with "chat") Feb 5, 2017 at 3:38
  • But then it says: "Après le XIIIème, elle disparaît dans tous les cas." ?
    – Frank
    Feb 5, 2017 at 3:39

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