French Language/pronunciation of e

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QUESTION: I was taught to pronounce est (3rd pers sing of etre), as in "C'est moi", like e accent grave, as in "cette". But most people seem to pronounce it like e accent aigu, to rhyme with "j'ai". Which is correct? Or is it maybe a matter of regional differences? Same question with "francais". Does the second syllable sound like e accent grave or e accent aigu? Merci...

ANSWER: Hello Lala,

Thak you for your question.
There are regiona differences of course. est pronounced like " é " can be heard in south of France.
For me, the wovel found in : est, français, cette and j'ai has the same proounciation (I'm from North East of France).

I hope this helps

Cheers

Caro

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks, Caro. I was with you with est, francais, and cette - all like e accent grave - as in "mere". (sorry - my computer will not let me make accent marks). But "j'ai"? I have never heard of it pronounced other than with e accent aigu. So are you saying that in "J'ai parle" (add accent aigu to the past participle), the first and third syllables do NOT rhyme???? Is this just in Alsace/Lorraine, or in Parisian French as well????
Thanks.
LaLa

Answer
Hi Lala,

Interesting question. Discussing with my husband, we realize that we pronounce 'j'ai' pronounced like "cette" (sort of accent grave) when it is the verb avoir : j'ai de l'argent
But when it is an auxiliary (for the passé composé) we tend to pronounce it like "jé"

I had a look at forvo, a crowdsourcing pronounciation guide :
http://fr.forvo.com/word/j%27ai/#fr

If you click on the blue arrow you can listen to 4 pronounciations.
And it seems that there are some différences, probably due to regional accents.
I was not aware of this, so thank you for asking this question!

Cheers

Caro  

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Hello! I'm a French native speaker living in France. If you need someone to proof-read your translations and essays or need help on French grammar, pronounciation, French traditions, or cultural aspects do not hesitate to contact me, I'd be glad to help you. I'm in the Top 50 experts of the year in 2011 and 2012. Tank you dear questionners!

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