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I've come across those two videos:

and I've wanted to learn the sound of in, both people pronounce it differently tho, I feel like the second one is better and the first one sounds like an to me. I know there are different accents so I would like to know what sounds more normal to you (maybe it sounds the same and I'm just d*mb) and I would also like to know which of these pronunciations would be in Swiss French.

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3 Answers 3

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As Elisa says in the first video, in northern France, "in" /ɛ̃/ has merged with "un" /œ̃/. To my ears, the resulting sound is phonetically realized somewhere between them — lower than a true [ɛ̃] (note the narrow transcription).

I sometimes have difficulty distinguishing the Parisian lower "in" /ɛ̃/ and "en" /ɑ̃/, like Elisa uses.

The speaker in the second video uses a higher /ɛ̃/ than Elisa does, less merged with /œ̃/. It's easier to tell this one apart from /œ̃/ and /ɑ̃/.

Neither is better nor worse, just different dialects. If you want to sound Parisian, merge the sounds and target Elisa's. Otherwise, use the second guy's pronunciation. Most of the standard learning materials still make a four-way distinction (un bon vin blanc), so if you try to learn only three, you might find yourself having to make frequent mental corrections.

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    Thank you, I think I will go with the second one because I hear bigger difference between the sounds and it seems clearer.
    – Sylver
    Dec 24, 2022 at 18:24
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Elisa pronounces all four French nasals like I'm used to hearing them. There is a small mistake when she says that in order to pronounce in, you need to have your mouth in the same position as when you pronounce a /i/ (a high front vowel) then nasalize it. This is incorrect. That would lead to a /ĩ/ which is not present in French. You actually need to start with a much lower front vowel, like /ɛ/ or even /a/, and nasalize it. She also makes the liaison in cinq cent probably to be better understood by learners, but usually the final Q of cinq is not pronounced.

The second speaker is unable to pronounce un correctly; it is still an in in his mouth, and he says both vowels are mostly the same. This shows he is "blind" to un, a very common "condition" ;-) in Paris area and a large part of Northern France.

As far as in, an and on are concerned, they both pronounce them the "standard France French" way, i.e. French as spoken in French TVs.

You should also be aware that in Southern France, an, in, on, and un can all be pronounced in substantially different ways, and this is also true in other locations like Québec.

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Here are good prronunciations for people who distinguish the sound of "un" and "Ain". Ideally, this distinction should be made.

precise pronunciation of "un" (sound [õe]): Faustroll, Clador06

precise pronunciation of "Tintin" (sound [ɛ̃]): SplOuf

precise pronunciation of "an" (sound [ã]): an

precise pronunciation of "on" (sound [ɔ̃]): on, qu'on ait, l'on, qu'est-ce qu'on mange

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