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I was listening to the song Secret by Louane and I keep getting hung up on how she pronounces one word in the chorus. You can hear it here at 1:09, when she sings "J'ai toujours eu un peu de mal à m'aimer" but she pronounces the eu as ai, almost as though she were saying J'ai toujours ai. She does it again in every chorus of the song. You can hear it mostly clearly in the song's final line, at 3:00, when she says it a bit more slowly, but again pronounces it the same way.

Why is that? I haven't heard it pronounced that way before. Does this somehow sound normal to a native speaker's ears anyway?

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    I really don't hear what you're hearing. To me it's a very clear /y/. Maybe you're picking up some kind of diphthongization with the nasal vowel after it. Or anticipating a rhyme because of the internal rhymes 'confier' / 'secret' / ___ / 'aimer'.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Feb 21, 2023 at 23:23
  • It is "u" in all cases, clearly so; it seems strange though that your ear should need more training to make this difference.
    – LPH
    Feb 22, 2023 at 0:06
  • Indeed. The result of learning a language from books. Bad ears. 12 years later it remains a struggle. But it's all I focus on these days. Hope springs eternal. Feb 22, 2023 at 11:25
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    @temporary_user_name It's not the purest "u" either (likewise with the "i"s, she holds back her vowels / doesn't push them all the way to the front of the mouth), so the mistake is understandable for a non native. To a native speaker's ears it does flow in seamlessly though. Feb 22, 2023 at 12:46

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The verb eu /y/ is very short in both cases and followed by a glide to un.

I guess you confuse that un, which Louane doesn't pronounce /œ̃/ but /ɛ̃/ in its un-nasalized form ai /ɛ/.

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