8

I'm learning French, and from what I've heard, it seems that:

  • c'est un is pronounced /sɛ tœ̃ /, but
  • c'est une is pronounced /sɛ tʃyn/,

with a /tʃ/ as in cheese. I heard this difference both in Duolingo and Forvo (un, une).

Is this the case in standard Parisian dialect? Why does it happen, and when?

  • I don't hear /tʃ/ in that une forvo recording, btw. – RainDoctor Nov 22 '13 at 23:52
7

TL;DR : this is not a standard pronunciation. Even @Gilles can't picture anyone pronouncing [tʃ] or [ts]1.

In Français Standard, it should be [sɛtyn], [tʃ] is a common variant in Cajun French and in varieties of rural France, especially in informal speech. Québécois and Acadien use [ts], which is quite close and may be related.

As for why, I am not really sure, but I suspect it is a case of mouillure or palatalisation: it happens in many mothereses in French, and in some cases in informal speech that an occlusive consonant before a front vowel is palatalised as in [k]→[kʲ]

Qui c'est ce bébé ? [kisesəbebe]

Can be pronounced [kʲisesəbebe] in motherese. I have been told by a Basque teacher that this palatalization can be mandatory in Basque when addressing relatives or close friends.

Then, as time goes by, this pronunciation can evolve to [kʃ] or [tʃ]. The same thing happened to the initial [k] Latin cabalus

[k] > [kʲ] > [tʲ] > [tʃ] > [ʃ]

which is how c​abalus became ch​eval.

Since Cajun, and in a lesser measure Québécois inherited more from informal French, it could be how [cɛtyn] became [cɛtʃyn].

  • 4
    Just to clarify: this is not a standard thing. I (mostly Parisian or thereabouts) can't picture anyone pronouncing [tʃ] or [ts]. – Gilles Feb 17 '13 at 18:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.