Discussion:
Minimal pairs in French
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James H. Markowitz
2017-05-20 02:59:42 UTC
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Are there minimal pairs in French that depend on a vowel (e, I
guess) has a grave accent or an acute accent?
Peter T. Daniels
2017-05-20 03:10:13 UTC
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Post by James H. Markowitz
Are there minimal pairs in French that depend on a vowel (e, I
guess) has a grave accent or an acute accent?
Can an acute appear in a closed syllable, or a grave in an open one? (A and ou
don't count because the grave only matters pronunciationwise with e.)
Yusuf B Gursey
2017-05-20 06:43:14 UTC
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Peter T. Daniels on 5/20/2017 in
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by James H. Markowitz
Are there minimal pairs in French that depend on a vowel (e, I
guess) has a grave accent or an acute accent?
Can an acute appear in a closed syllable, or a grave in an open one? (A and
ou don't count because the grave only matters pronunciationwise with e.)
And the answer?
Peter T. Daniels
2017-05-20 13:46:52 UTC
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Post by Yusuf B Gursey
Peter T. Daniels on 5/20/2017 in
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by James H. Markowitz
Are there minimal pairs in French that depend on a vowel (e, I
guess) has a grave accent or an acute accent?
Can an acute appear in a closed syllable, or a grave in an open one? (A and
ou don't count because the grave only matters pronunciationwise with e.)
And the answer?
Should be provided by a French orthographer.
Helmut Richter
2017-05-20 09:34:01 UTC
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Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by James H. Markowitz
Are there minimal pairs in French that depend on a vowel (e, I
guess) has a grave accent or an acute accent?
I don't find any, but I do not take it for granted that there are none.
There are, however, minimal pairs e/é and e/è:

côte / côté = coast / side
pâte / pâté = dough / pastry
recréer / récréer = create again / refresh
reformer / réformer = form again / reformcher
repartir / répartir = leave again / distribute

with different spelling:
recollement / récolement = joining again / inventory control

other combinations:
pêche / péché = peach, fishing / sin
pêcher / pécher = peach tree, to fish / to sin
pêcheur / pécheur = fisher / sinner
des / dès = of the (pl.) / as early as

different stress of word:
reclus / réclusion = isolated / isolation
algèbre / algébrique = algebra /algebraic
récupérer / il récupère = get back / he gets back
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Can an acute appear in a closed syllable, or a grave in an open one? (A and ou
don't count because the gravcôtee only matters pronunciationwise with e.)
Depends on whether one counts a syllable "-èCe" (where the final -e is
silent in the North and a Schwa in the South, e.g. père) as an open
syllable.
--
Helmut Richter
wugi
2017-05-20 12:20:40 UTC
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Post by Helmut Richter
Post by James H. Markowitz
Are there minimal pairs in French that depend on a vowel (e, I
guess) has a grave accent or an acute accent?
I don't find any, but I do not take it for granted that there are none.
Technically it's not obvious, as generally speaking closed syllables
would have open "è" but open syllables closed "é" :-o)
But as "syllable" is an ambiguous thing in spoken cq written French some
cases do occur. And phonetic [e] vs. [E] (with different writings) have
quite a few minimal pairs.
(...)
Post by Helmut Richter
des / dès = of the (pl.) / as early as
... dés = dice.
Also prés = meadows ... près = nearby

And phonetically:
gré ... grès
bée ... baie
thé ... taie
né ... nait
appelé ... appelait
crée ... craie/crêt
lé ... lai/laie/laid/lez
poignée ... poignet
... ... ...
--
guido
http://www.wugi.be/
Peter T. Daniels
2017-05-20 13:51:33 UTC
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Post by wugi
Post by Helmut Richter
Post by James H. Markowitz
Are there minimal pairs in French that depend on a vowel (e, I
guess) has a grave accent or an acute accent?
I don't find any, but I do not take it for granted that there are none.
Technically it's not obvious, as generally speaking closed syllables
would have open "è" but open syllables closed "é" :-o)
But as "syllable" is an ambiguous thing in spoken cq written French some
cases do occur. And phonetic [e] vs. [E] (with different writings) have
quite a few minimal pairs.
(...)
Post by Helmut Richter
des / dès = of the (pl.) / as early as
... dés = dice.
I doubt I've ever heard dès spoken -- does it have the same vowel as dés ?
Post by wugi
Also prés = meadows ... près = nearby
Those are the same, no?
Post by wugi
gré ... grès
I think that one actually answers OP's query!
Post by wugi
bée ... baie
thé ... taie
né ... nait
appelé ... appelait
crée ... craie/crêt
lé ... lai/laie/laid/lez
poignée ... poignet
... ... ...
wugi
2017-05-20 15:40:25 UTC
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Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by wugi
Post by Helmut Richter
Post by James H. Markowitz
Are there minimal pairs in French that depend on a vowel (e, I
guess) has a grave accent or an acute accent?
I don't find any, but I do not take it for granted that there are none.
Technically it's not obvious, as generally speaking closed syllables
would have open "è" but open syllables closed "é" :-o)
But as "syllable" is an ambiguous thing in spoken cq written French some
cases do occur. And phonetic [e] vs. [E] (with different writings) have
quite a few minimal pairs.
(...)
Post by Helmut Richter
des / dès = of the (pl.) / as early as
... dés = dice.
I doubt I've ever heard dès spoken -- does it have the same vowel as dés ?
No: open/closed vowel distinction, see Christian's response.
And it's not rare:
dès lors, dès maintenant, dès le matin, dès que possible, dès
potron-minet...
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by wugi
Also prés = meadows ... près = nearby
Those are the same, no?
Even not à peu près: same open/closed vowel distinction.
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by wugi
gré ... grès
I think that one actually answers OP's query!
Well, there's an s too many, and gré doesn't take the plural trick.
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by wugi
(...)
--
guido wugi
James H. Markowitz
2017-05-21 16:20:03 UTC
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Post by wugi
Post by Helmut Richter
Are there minimal pairs in French that depend on a vowel (e, I guess)
has a grave accent or an acute accent?
I don't find any, but I do not take it for granted that there are none.
Technically it's not obvious, as generally speaking closed syllables
would have open "è" but open syllables closed "é" :-o)
But as "syllable" is an ambiguous thing in spoken cq written French some
cases do occur. And phonetic [e] vs. [E] (with different writings) have
quite a few minimal pairs.
(...)
Post by Helmut Richter
des / dès = of the (pl.) / as early as
... dés = dice.
Also prés = meadows ... près = nearby
gré ... grès bée ... baie thé ... taie né ... nait appelé ... appelait
crée ... craie/crêt lé ... lai/laie/laid/lez poignée ... poignet ... ...
...
Thanks. Can native speakers tell the difference, without a
context? So, if a native speaker utters "prés" and nothing else, will
another native speaker know that it is "prés", rather than "près"?
Arnaud Fournet
2017-05-21 17:44:47 UTC
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Post by James H. Markowitz
Post by wugi
Post by Helmut Richter
Are there minimal pairs in French that depend on a vowel (e, I guess)
has a grave accent or an acute accent?
I don't find any, but I do not take it for granted that there are none.
Technically it's not obvious, as generally speaking closed syllables
would have open "è" but open syllables closed "é" :-o)
But as "syllable" is an ambiguous thing in spoken cq written French some
cases do occur. And phonetic [e] vs. [E] (with different writings) have
quite a few minimal pairs.
(...)
Post by Helmut Richter
des / dès = of the (pl.) / as early as
... dés = dice.
Also prés = meadows ... près = nearby
gré ... grès bée ... baie thé ... taie né ... nait appelé ... appelait
crée ... craie/crêt lé ... lai/laie/laid/lez poignée ... poignet ... ...
...
Thanks. Can native speakers tell the difference, without a
context? So, if a native speaker utters "prés" and nothing else, will
another native speaker know that it is "prés", rather than "près"?
The distinction between é and è is mostly limited to the area around Paris. Most French people don't have that phonemic contrast, and I'm one of them.
I can deliberately make it, but in my relaxed speech, I don't have it.
A.
Ruud Harmsen
2017-05-22 07:08:30 UTC
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Sun, 21 May 2017 10:44:47 -0700 (PDT): Arnaud Fournet
Post by Arnaud Fournet
The distinction between é and è is mostly limited to the area around Paris.
Not the other way around? Only still there is Belgium and Canada?
Post by Arnaud Fournet
Most French people don't have that phonemic contrast, and I'm one of them.
I can deliberately make it, but in my relaxed speech, I don't have it.
--
Ruud Harmsen, http://rudhar.com
Arnaud Fournet
2017-05-22 15:35:43 UTC
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Post by Ruud Harmsen
Sun, 21 May 2017 10:44:47 -0700 (PDT): Arnaud Fournet
Post by Arnaud Fournet
The distinction between é and è is mostly limited to the area around Paris.
Not the other way around? Only still there is Belgium and Canada?
Belgium seems to be fairly conservative, and that also concerns the distinction between in and un.
I can't speak for Canada, I'm not familiar enough with Canadian French.
A.
Pierre Jelenc
2017-05-21 18:42:35 UTC
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Post by James H. Markowitz
Thanks. Can native speakers tell the difference, without a
context? So, if a native speaker utters "prés" and nothing else, will
another native speaker know that it is "prés", rather than "prÚs"?
Yes.

But it's not that simple, because in some accents (such as mine!) many "Ú" are
pronounced "é", especially in casual speech. I have no problem pronouncing "élÚve"
but "prés" and "prÚs" are absolutely homophonous, all the time.

Pierre
--
Pierre Jelenc
The Gigometer www.gigometer.com
The NYC Beer Guide www.nycbeer.org
wugi
2017-05-21 19:54:19 UTC
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Post by James H. Markowitz
Post by wugi
Post by Helmut Richter
Are there minimal pairs in French that depend on a vowel (e, I guess)
has a grave accent or an acute accent?
I don't find any, but I do not take it for granted that there are none.
Technically it's not obvious, as generally speaking closed syllables
would have open "è" but open syllables closed "é" :-o)
But as "syllable" is an ambiguous thing in spoken cq written French some
cases do occur. And phonetic [e] vs. [E] (with different writings) have
quite a few minimal pairs.
(...)
Post by Helmut Richter
des / dès = of the (pl.) / as early as
... dés = dice.
Also prés = meadows ... près = nearby
gré ... grès bée ... baie thé ... taie né ... nait appelé ... appelait
crée ... craie/crêt lé ... lai/laie/laid/lez poignée ... poignet ... ...
...
Thanks. Can native speakers tell the difference, without a
context? So, if a native speaker utters "prés" and nothing else, will
another native speaker know that it is "prés", rather than "près"?
In Belgian French the distinction is rather plain.
"Près" and "prêt(s)" are homophones, but not with "pré(s)".
So,
"Nous sommes prêts près des prés"
(we're ready near the meadows) would sound as
"Nous sommes prè prè dé pré".
Well, "des" may sound as dé or dè, so
"Des dés"
(some dice) may sound as
"Dé dé", or, "dè dé".

French French is messier with vowels. Sometimes you wouldn't know if
they've said "appelez/é/er" or appelait", "gré" or "grès". Also, "brin"
or "brun", "empreinte" or "emprunte". Closed /o/ tends to become open:
"aut'(re) chose" gets to sound like E. "aught shores" instead of "oat
shows". ...
--
guido wugi
Ruud Harmsen
2017-05-22 07:07:34 UTC
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Sun, 21 May 2017 16:20:03 +0000 (UTC): "James H. Markowitz"
Post by James H. Markowitz
Post by wugi
gré ... grès bée ... baie thé ... taie né ... nait appelé ... appelait
crée ... craie/crêt lé ... lai/laie/laid/lez poignée ... poignet ... ...
...
Thanks. Can native speakers tell the difference, without a
context? So, if a native speaker utters "prés" and nothing else, will
another native speaker know that it is "prés", rather than "près"?
Depends on region, or so they say. If I remember well, in Paris the
distinction is dead. (Also, the four nasalised vowel have merged into
two.)
--
Ruud Harmsen, http://rudhar.com
Arnaud Fournet
2017-05-22 15:38:31 UTC
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Post by Ruud Harmsen
Sun, 21 May 2017 16:20:03 +0000 (UTC): "James H. Markowitz"
Post by James H. Markowitz
Post by wugi
gré ... grès bée ... baie thé ... taie né ... nait appelé ... appelait
crée ... craie/crêt lé ... lai/laie/laid/lez poignée ... poignet ... ...
...
Thanks. Can native speakers tell the difference, without a
context? So, if a native speaker utters "prés" and nothing else, will
another native speaker know that it is "prés", rather than "près"?
Depends on region, or so they say. If I remember well, in Paris the
distinction is dead.
No, that's the contrary.
The area around Paris is the area where this distinction is best preserved.


(Also, the four nasalised vowel have merged into
Post by Ruud Harmsen
two.)
No, three nasalized vowels: an on in[=un].
I don't think there are native speakers with only two nasalized vowels.
Some have four: an on in un. They are a quite large minority.
A.

Christian Weisgerber
2017-05-20 14:37:09 UTC
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Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by James H. Markowitz
Are there minimal pairs in French that depend on a vowel (e, I
guess) has a grave accent or an acute accent?
Can an acute appear in a closed syllable,
Exceptionally, yes, due to loss of a historic schwa and the resulting
resyllabification:

élever /El.ve/
médecin /mEd.sɛ̃/

I'm putting /E/ here, because the distinction of /e/ and /ɛ/ in
these positions is effectively neutralized.
Post by Peter T. Daniels
or a grave in an open one?
Certainly. Après, dès, procès, succès, ...
--
Christian "naddy" Weisgerber ***@mips.inka.de
Arnaud Fournet
2017-05-20 13:56:01 UTC
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Post by James H. Markowitz
Are there minimal pairs in French that depend on a vowel (e, I
guess) has a grave accent or an acute accent?
In theory, according to spelling,
avènement and événement should not have the same second vowel,
but this pair is quite artificial,
as neither avénement nor événement are consistent with present-day phonology, both of them being in fact consistent with avènement and évènement,
three syllables => a/é - vèn - maN
Christian Weisgerber
2017-05-20 14:10:02 UTC
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Post by James H. Markowitz
Are there minimal pairs in French that depend on a vowel (e, I
guess) has a grave accent or an acute accent?
Yes.

I assume the question refers purely to spelling. Pronunciation is
a different kettle of fish. I haven't found any minimal pairs in the
citation forms, but allowing for inflection there are some:

(les) dés /de/ "thimbles, dice" noun plural
dès /dɛ/ "since, from" preposition

(les) prés /pʁe/ "meadows" noun plural
près /pʁɛ/ "near, close" adverb

These are also minimal pairs in pronunciation, as far as the
distinction is still made.

Then there are pairs that involve the silent verb ending -ent and
where the minimality is purely orthographic:

différent /diferɑ̃/ "different" adjective
(ils) diffèrent /difɛʁ/ "they differ" verb form

The same pattern applies to
adhérent - adhèrent
afférent - affèrent
compétent - compètent
excédent - excèdent
indifférent - indiffèrent
précédent - précèdent
--
Christian "naddy" Weisgerber ***@mips.inka.de
Ruud Harmsen
2017-05-20 19:38:35 UTC
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Sat, 20 May 2017 02:59:42 +0000 (UTC): "James H. Markowitz"
Post by James H. Markowitz
Are there minimal pairs in French that depend on a vowel (e, I
guess) has a grave accent or an acute accent?
été
étais
être
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