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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 4:11 pm 
Sanci
Sanci

Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2014 6:26 am
Posts: 24
Location: Shenzhen, Guangdong, China
French varieties in places like Quebec and Belgium seem to maintain the distinction between /a/ and /ɑ/. Does this imply that, in verb conjugation, 3sg and 2sg are distinct in the future tense as well as wherever 3sg ends in -a and 2sg ends in -as?

Likewise, /ɛː/ and /ɛ/ is said to be distinguished as well. Which one does -ais use as an ending in the imperfect and conditional tenses? Is there a distinction between -ais, -ait, and aît?

e.g. are the pronunciations of each pair of verbs below distinct?

il a ↔ tu as;
il va ↔ tu vas;
il mangera ↔ tu mangeras;
il dîna (past historic) ↔ tu dînas (past historic) ↔ (qu')il dînât (imperfect subjunctive);

il sait ↔ je sais, tu sais;
il fait ↔ je fais, tu fais;
il changerait ↔ je changerais, tu changerais;
il pensait ↔ je pensais, tu pensais;
il connaît ↔ je connais, tu connais;
...

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Always an adventurer, I guess.
-
Tone: Chao's notation.
Apical vowels: [ɿ]≈[z̞̩], [ʅ]≈[ɻ̞̩], [ʮ]≈[z̞̩ʷ], [ʯ]≈[ɻ̞̩ʷ].
Vowels: [ᴇ]=Mid front unrounded, [ᴀ]=Open central unrounded, [ⱺ]=Mid back rounded, [ⱻ]=Mid back unrounded.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:32 am 
Avisaru
Avisaru

Joined: Sat Mar 28, 2015 7:05 pm
Posts: 387
Actually, the distinction between /a/ and /ɑ/ seems to be generally neutralized in favor of /ɑ/ in word-final phonetically open syllables in Quebec French. (I'm saying "phonetically" open just to clarify that I'm not talking about some kind of SPE-esque morpho-phonological analysis of French where a word like chat is considered to count as a closed syllable with underlying coda /t/ just because it is spelled with a "t" and related to words with a pronounced [t].) See p. 70 in "The Pronunciation of Canadian French", Douglas C. Walker (1984). I haven't read any more recent source that discusses this as a phonological rule, but /ɑ/ in chat is mentioned in the following blog post: 50 French words using the â sound in Québec — but written without the accent.

So word-final inflectional suffixes "a" and "as" would apparently both be pronounced as /ɑ/. (Phonetically, /ɑ/ in this position is apparently fairly short relative to pre-consonantal /ɑ/, and word-final /ɑ/ may have a quality more like [ɔ].)

Likewise, in word-final position in Quebec French, /ɛ/ is lowered to something like [æ] and there is apparently no distinction between /ɛ/ and /ɛː/: p. 75 shows laid, lait, frais and prêt as all having the same vowel [æ], and says "the endings of the imperfect and conditional singular (-ais/ait) furnish a large
number of realizations of lowered /ɛ/ : je pourrais [ʃpuræ], il était [jetæ] and so on".

Vowel length in French is a complicated topic because the present-day varieties that do have length distinctions don't necessarily have the same distribution of long and short vowels as the commonly-described old-fashioned France French variety that had vowel length. For example, I don't know much about Belgium French, but if I remember correctly there can be long vowels due to the historical presence of word-final schwa.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:10 pm 
Niš
Niš

Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:02 am
Posts: 1
Delurking to post some clarifications on the topic, as a speaker of one of the varieties in question.

First of is that in Belgian French the contrast isn't between /ɑ/ and /a/, but /aː/ and /a/.

Second is that it normally doesn't show any traces of the debucalised /s/ in (what are now) open syllables, so none of the contrasts you posit would be expected to exist:

Pâte /paːt/ - Patte /pat/ - Pas /pa/ - Appat /apa/ (/aː/ doesn't exists world finally, but /waː/ does, i'll get back to this)

Être /ɛːtʀ/ - Mettre /mɛtʀ/ - Étais /etɛ/ - Était /etɛ/ but Étaient /etɛː/ (I'll get back to this too)

Île /iːl/ - Fil /fil/ - Dis /di/ - Dit /di/

Côte /koːt/ - Côté /kɔte/

However, there are varieties of French which still distinguish old /Vs#/ sequences from /V#/ ones, but it's mostly found in the speech of some older rural speakers in France, rather than attributable to a big national variety like Belgian or Canadian French.

Lastly, there are distinctions in the verbal paradigm of Belgian French that have disappeared from that of most other dialects. As Sumelic alluded to, /Və/ sequences have yielded /Vː/, mostly but not exclusively word finally (for example I contrast "il lirait" /iliʀɛ/ from "Il lierait" /iliːʀɛ/).

World final vowel length might not always be contrastive in verbs. For example Essuyer and Nettoyer have a long vowel throughout their singular indicative and subjunctive present conjugation (/eswiː/ and /netwaː/) but they don't contrast with any verb form /eswi/ and /netwa/, although /eswi/ can be a noun. Here are where they are contrastive:

Person Marking: Generally 3P vs the singular forms, but not only:

    Je vois, tu vois, elle voit /vwa/ vs elles voient /vwaː/
    Il ait /e/ vs j'aie, tu aies, ils aient /eː/
    Je ris, tu ris, il rit /ʀi/ vs. ils rient /ʀiː/
    Je mangeais, tu mangeais, elle mangeait /mɑ̃ʒɛ/ vs. ils mangeaient /mɑ̃ʒɛː/

The suffix -aient is the only instance of open syllable /ɛː/ in the language (everywhere else, it's raised to /eː/) and it's not rare for speakers to just say /ɛ/. Many speakers, me included, also tend to regularise the subjunctive paradigm of avoir by extending the /eː/ to "Il ait".

Mood Marking: Because the Latin Subjunctive Present Active often had /a/ as its theme vowel, it was followed as /ə/ in French and it's not rare the present indicative and the present subjunctive be distinguished by vowel quantity:

    Je vois, tu vois, elle voit /vwa/ vs je voie, tu voies, elle voie /vwaː/
    J'ai /e/ vs j'aie /eː/
    Je ris, tu ris, il rit /ʀi/ vs. je rie, tu ries, il rie /ʀiː/

Sumelic wrote:
Vowel length in French is a complicated topic because the present-day varieties that do have length distinctions don't necessarily have the same distribution of long and short vowels as the commonly-described old-fashioned France French variety that had vowel length


Well, depends on how old-fashioned we're speaking. 17th and 18th grammarians describe similar vowel length phenomenon for both Vs and Və sequences in France French too, and it only disappears from descriptions of the standard during the 19th, appart for ê.


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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2018 7:09 am 
Sanci
Sanci
User avatar

Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 2:15 pm
Posts: 53
Location: Montreal, Canada
Seirios wrote:
il a ↔ tu as;
il va ↔ tu vas;
il mangera ↔ tu mangeras;
il dîna (past historic) ↔ tu dînas (past historic) ↔ (qu')il dînât (imperfect subjunctive);

il sait ↔ je sais, tu sais;
il fait ↔ je fais, tu fais;
il changerait ↔ je changerais, tu changerais;
il pensait ↔ je pensais, tu pensais;
il connaît ↔ je connais, tu connais;
...


Plain and simple, there is no verb ending whatsoever that involves /ɛː/ in any dialect, the opposition where present is between /ɛ/ and /e/:
je changerais ↔ je changerai
je changais ↔ je changeai

or between a verb and a nonverb form
même ↔ m'aime
faîte/fête ↔ (vous) faites

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We're all under strict orders not to bite the newbies. -- Amaya


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