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Can someone please tell me what the t in il y a -t-il is called. I was told that it is called "a phoneme ephylsystique" but cannot find this anywhere. I would really appreciate any information on this. Maurice.

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I've not heard the word you mention.

 

One term sometimes used is to call it an epenthetic  /t/. "Epenthetic" is one of those posh words that doesn't really mean very much: it's basically a fancy way of saying "that has been inserted when we wouldn't have expected it syntactically". So it's a posh-sounding label, but doesn't actually explain anything over just saying "a /t/ is inserted".

 

Some authors talk about it being a euphonic /t/, or talk about "/t/ added for euphony": in other words, added for ease of pronunciation or to "make it sound nice". The disadvantage is that if you use this term, then you're inherently making some kind of analysis as to why the /t/ is added, and it's not 100% certain that euphony per se is actually the reason (from a synchronic point of view, you could view it as simply a "historic accident": it's not that speakers actually have a choice of saying "a il" rather than "a-t-il"). The advantage of using this term is that if you believe that it is the correct analysis, then you are giving a label that actually indicates your analysis.

I'm french and I don't know that all. Why do you want this information?

ephylstyque does'nt exist in a french dictionary so it could'nt be that. I tried ephylistique and ephylystique and I don't found anything

 

Thank you for the replies. The reason I am looking for this  is because I was given this information by a French teacher some years back. Maybe my memory is not as it was, but  for some reason this piece of trivia came back to me  and I thought I would follow it up. Again, thank you for the responses.

 

In the petit Robert dictionnary, they call that a "t euphonique ". But it's not a grammatical dictionnary. They just explain that, you use the "-t" for avoiding a hiatus.
As I mentioned in my post, "euphonic t" is indeed a reasonably common way to refer to it.

As Neil stated, it's called a euphonic t.

 

French, as a rule, tries to avoid placing two vowel sounds next to each other (think l'université  and not le université or j'ai and not je ai or even t' as in informal spoken French instead of tu as). In chante-t-il for instance, the t allows you to avoid saying the e and i sounds together.

 

In Spoken French the euphonic t in chante-t-il has hardly any use seeing as how we almost never pronounce the final e in verbs ending in -er.

 

 

Yes, the last point is quite interesting. Since the final -e of chante isn't pronounced in most cases, one might have expected the inverted form to evolve to chant'il. I suspect that part of the issue is that inversion is part of the formal language, where artificially maintaining pronunciation of the final "e" of chante is a little less unusual. It may be that the inversion of the present tense of -er verb forms is felt to be slightly "artificial" in any case (considering that the inverted je forms of such verbs are now completely obsolete).
Indeed! When I was first teaching when you had to add the t for inversion, I was second guessing myself on -er verbs. It wasn't until I slowly pronounced the verbs that I realized there was an e muet there that needed a consonant placed afterwards.

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