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I set Waze (the driving directions program) to give me driving instructions in French, just on a whim to hear more French - I'm an advanced beginner level student.

And what I can't help noticing every time is that of the two instructions for turning, the French voice in Waze - I believe there's only one there, called "Morgan" - pronounces "tournez à gauche" without liaison, and "tournez à droite" with [z]. It's very noticeable and unmistakable. And it's also very clear that it's the same person speaking.

Why would they do it this way? It's a trifle I'm sure, but I can't get it out of my mind.

  • Maybe the speaker actually consistently pronounces these phrases differently, turning left without liaison and right with? Does that sort of thing happen frequently?
  • Perhaps it was just a situational choice when recording the sentences, and to native French speakers the two ways to pronounce sound so similar that they don't even notice there's anything odd?
  • Or, on the contrary, maybe they deliberately recorded the two sentences differently, so that when there's background noise in the car, people learn over time to recognize the right direction better?
  • Anything else I can't think of?
  • Are you really talking of a pattern, all of several occurrences of each of the two sentences being repeated each time with the exact same pronunciation? – LPH Nov 13 '18 at 18:58
  • Morgan you say ? Ha! Yes! After checking, it is indeed a possible choice but I am usually with Vanessa! ;-) I never noticed that with "her" anyway. Which, knowing a little bit about voice synthetizers seems somehow odd because liaison is decided at the coding level. Which makes it independent of the rendering. I'll try Morgan tomorrow and come back to this. – aCOSwt Nov 13 '18 at 20:43
  • @aCOSwt Driving directions in Waze seem like a small number of set phrases stitched together, so I assumed they were recorded speakers, not voice synthesizers. Not so sure anymore, after your comment; I'll look into finding out. – AnatolyVorobey Nov 15 '18 at 0:34
  • @LPH These two sentences are repeated very often while driving, sounding always in the same way, "tournez à droite" with the liaison and "tournez à gauche" without. To contrast, "sortez à droite/à gauche" are both pronounced by the same speaker without the liaison. – AnatolyVorobey Nov 15 '18 at 0:36
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    @AnatolyVorobey : You are correct. After careful attention, it does seem that full sentences are recorded. No speach synth. For the record espeak -xq -vfr would render turn'ez2 a (notice the z2) producing the liaison. (In both cases droite et gauche of course). Hence... it is not a bug... Hey... if this is not a bug this is a feature! ;-) In that your third option sounds interesting. But in such a case, vanessa would do the same. Anyway... I switch back to "her" ;-) – aCOSwt Nov 15 '18 at 8:27
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To answer your bullet points:

  • Speakers DO NOT consistently pronounces these phrases differently.
  • To native French speakers the two ways to pronounce them DO NOT sound similar (the liaison sounds weird).
  • If they deliberately recorded the two sentences differently, then it is a mistake. As a native French speaker, I can tell you that no one will use a liaison in this context.

From what I read about the liaison rules (for instance in wikipedia), this case may be considered as an "optional" liaison but in practice, I have never heard anyone pronouncing it.

  • Thank you, this was admirably straightforward and helpful. – AnatolyVorobey Nov 15 '18 at 0:36

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