Is the E in the end of monosyllabic words like je, le, ce, ne and que pronounced [ø] , [œ] or [ə] ? It seems I hear different sounds, depending on the sentence and on the speaker.
- le garçon [lø]
- Il te le dit [lə]
French Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the French language. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
/ə/ is the pronunciation given by TLFi, so in theory it should be used. However, in practice, this may change to /ø/ or /œ/ depending on the speaker and the context in which the schwa appears. This is discussed in detail on English Wikipedia. In particular:
Fagyal, Kibbee & Jenkins (2006) state, more specifically, that it merges with /ø/ before high vowels and glides […] in phrase-final stressed position […] and that it merges with /œ/ elsewhere.
[…] Pronouncing [ə] as [œ] is a way to emphasise the syllable.
The exact pronunciation of the schwa is addressed in a number of academic papers, including in "On the phonetic identity of French schwa compared to /ø/ and /œ/" by Fougeron, Gendrot, and Bürki.
This variability in the phonetic identity of schwa has in fact been reported in many descriptions in the literature. Its pronunciation has been said to vary between [œ] and [ø] depending on speakers, varieties of French, and segmental contexts (Delattre 47, 64; Tranel 87, Valdman 70).