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Qu'est-ce t'as dit?Qu’est-ce t’as dit?

During a conversation yesterday, a friend of mine said this to another friend: qu’est-ce t’as dit?

It means:
What did you say? or
What did you just say?

The friend who asked this question didn’t hear what had just been said. The question was used to get our friend to repeat himself.

We can pull 3 very important things out of this question to help you with French pronunciation.

1. qu’est-ce
2. t’as
3. dzi

1. qu’est-ce

You’ll notice that she didn’t say:
Qu’est-ce que tu as dit?

Although possible, she didn’t say this either:
Qu’est-ce que t’as dit?

What she said was:
Qu’est-ce t’as dit?

There’s no que in there, and she pronounced tu as as t’as.

Her question is an informal usage. The qu’est-ce part sounds like kess, which means her question sounded like kess t’as dit?

During conversations, you’ll very frequently hear questions that use tu asked like this, with just qu’est-ce, for example:

qu’est-ce t’as fait? (what did you do?)
qu’est-ce t’en penses? (what do you think about that?)
qu’est-ce tu veux? (what do you want?)

2. t’as

The truth is that you’ll hear tu as a lot less than you maybe expected during conversations. It’s very frequently pronounced t’as. (The s is silent.)

Tu has a very strong tendency of becoming t’ when the next word begins with a vowel. So, not only will you hear t’as, you’ll also hear:

t’es (= tu es),
t’en (= tu en),
t’étais (= tu étais),
t’avais (= tu avais), etc.

To ask your friend’s opinion about something (as in “what do you think about that?”), you can ask qu’est-ce t’en penses?, which sounds more conversational than qu’est-ce que tu en penses?

As an alternative, you can also leave the que intact and just contract tu en to t’en, like this: qu’est-ce que t’en penses? This also sounds conversational, and you can use it.

3. dzi

You didn’t go and forget about the dzidzu on me, did you? I even made up a word to describe this feature of québécois pronunciation! When the letter d precedes the French i and u sounds, it gets pronounced as dz.

So, really, when my friend asked our other friend to repeat himself, her question sounded like this:

Kess t’a dzi?

Here are 15 more words that are dzidzuated in Québec:

  1. distance (dzistance)
  2. jeudi (jeudzi)
  3. mordu (mordzu)
  4. répondu (répondzu)
  5. cardiaque (cardziaque)
  6. maladie (maladzie)
  7. applaudir (applaudzir)
  8. dur (dzur)
  9. ordi (ordzi)
  10. disque (dzisque)
  11. direction (dzirection)
  12. module (modzule)
  13. maudit (maudzit)
  14. disposer (dzisposer)
  15. diplomate (dziplomate)

Don’t go overboard with the zzzz sound though. It’s really just a short dz sound, not some long drawn-out thing that sounds like you’re over-buzzing all over the place! Listen to spoken French from Québec and you’ll hear it all the time. It’s a standard feature of québécois pronunciation.

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