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I did just hear "il a fait une erreur" and I thought it was pronounced as:

Il a fet une erreur

But the voice I hear is:

Il a finerreur

Why does fait become fin in my ears?

  • 1
    You don't have to put the /t/ on fait ... it's an optional liaison. So the /n/ you're hearing comes from une. And in fast speech, the vowels might get slurred together, or one could be dropped. – Peter Shor May 9 at 13:42
  • @PeterShor So it's OK to say il a fet un-erreur here?` – Daniel Mårtensson May 9 at 13:51
  • It's okay. That's what optional (liaison facultative) means. – Peter Shor May 9 at 13:54
  • @PeterShor So some people drop the t in fait and some don't? – Daniel Mårtensson May 9 at 13:55
  • @PeterShor So what do you think is the most correct way to pronunce il a fait une erreur? I think il a fet unerreur have a very smooth way. – Daniel Mårtensson May 9 at 13:58
5

The most common pronunciations in France are:

[ilafɛ ynɛʁœʁ] (ilafè unèreur)

and

[ilafe yneʁœʁ] (ilafé unéreur)

The liaison is possible [ilafɛtynɛʁœʁ] (ilafètunèreur) but extremely rare in casual French and still uncommon in formal French. An exception would be a French language teacher providing hints to schoolchildren during a dictée.

When the sentence is spoken quickly, the initial I can be slightly or significantly dropped and the U can be soften and often turned into a "schwa".

[lafɛənɛʁœʁ]

This seems to be what your heard as "Il a finerreur".

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  • I think the pronunciation [fɛ] for "fait" is still considered (for now) as the standard pronunciation (that is the one given by dictionaries), and [fe] a regional variation - although very widespread (from my experience, even definitely the most common one in Southern France). – Greg May 10 at 5:17
  • @Greg Dictionaries just happen to almost exclusively report the "educated" Parisian/TV/Radio pronunciation. MASCARILLE.- Pour moi, je tiens que hors de Paris, il n’y a point de salut pour les honnêtes gens. Molière, Les précieuses ridicules, 1659. Paris is, as far as linguistics are concerned, just another region. – jlliagre May 10 at 13:58
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    @jiliagre: totally agree, and no judgment of value on any so-called regional variations. I just wanted to point it out as the OP seems to be a non-native learner, and I expect the standard pronunciation [fɛ] is what is taught to such learners, so it might be a bit surprising to come across [fe]. But I could even bet that [fe] will become the prevalent pronunciation in a couple of decades. – Greg May 10 at 14:43
  • @Greg I might have not point this distinction in my reply because it often doesn't matter a lot. Spanish phonology only list /e/ as and rarely report /ɛ/ usage, even while it sometimes exists. Most English variants do not care that much either about whether to report /ɛ/ vs /e/. See phonetic-blog.blogspot.com/2009/03/more-about-e-and.html . This seems to apply to Swedish too according to this statement found on the Swedish phonology Wikipedia page: In many central and eastern areas (including Stockholm), the contrast between short /ɛ/ and /e/ is lost. – jlliagre May 10 at 15:58
  • Maybe I am influenced by my Belgian background where the opposition /ɛ/ vs. /e/ is still more vivid than in other regions, as for other phonemes (I had a funny experience years ago, when a French guest speaker came to my university in Brussels, and in a lecture kept on hammering "qui sait ?", " qui sait ?", and it took a moment for all Belgian students to understand he did not mean "qui c'est ?") – Greg May 10 at 16:25

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