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I'm a beginner. My challenge is identifying and distinguishing the vowels in the first place, not academically analyzing them. I went to print off a vowel chart for reference, and I found some variations.

Wikipedia has this chart, which has each of 15 vowels in their own locations, with notes that two pairs may be merged.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/84/French_vowel_chart.svg/220px-French_vowel_chart.svg.png

One can also find simplified vowel charts with as few as 9 locations, merging the locations of e.g. /i/ and /y/, as in the chart below

https://www.mimicmethod.com/french-pronunciation-ultimate-guide/

This seems better to me from a beginner perspective...I already think that /i/ and /y/ have the same location but with different rounding, even though it may not be exactly correct, it's my current working model. Then again, some of the positions are really different between the charts. Is there harm in using the simplified version when starting out?

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    The XY axes in the first chart are F1-F2 formants, which are related to the frequency of the vowels. The XY axes of the 2nd chart correspond to the XY position of the tongue in the mouth and it is thus much more useful to language learners. I recommend that you use that one for learning French vowels. Wikipedia has also a chart with all vowels in IPA, in the same format of the 2nd chart: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPA_vowel_chart_with_audio – Alan Evangelista Jul 19 at 17:13
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    This is very interesting. I always assumed the shape of vowel charts was just conceptual rendering. I didn't know what a vowel formant is or that it is possible to plot them in a way that approximately corresponds to vowel highness/blackness. In other words I didn't know there was such a direct relationship. For learning purposes I wanted a chart that just shows them spatially, so I will use the second. – BetterSense Jul 19 at 18:16
  • This question would probably be better suited for Linguistics. – Laure SO - Écoute-nous Jul 20 at 5:58
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The XY axes in the first chart are F1-F2 formants, which are related to the frequency of the vowels. The XY axes of the 2nd chart correspond to the XY position of the tongue in the mouth and it is thus much more useful to language learners. I recommend that you use that one for learning French vowels.

Wikipedia has also a chart with all vowels in IPA, in the same format of the 2nd chart: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPA_vowel_chart_with_audio

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