Using two other services to find the correct pronunciation of chat and chien I find they are quite distinct. However Duolingo style is a very, very subtle difference only.
In this case I think the translation offered by the computer is misaligned. I have just repeated this lesson. In the previous attempt the same sentence was offered with the translation order of dog and cat reversed according to the translations. But listening to the spoken words here they were in the same order as the previous example.
Now it's true that the difference is almost indistinguishable between the two words as pronounced by Duolingo's machine, but I am sure that order of the spoken key words is different than the answer given as correct.
If true, my guess is that the machine's enunciation is so poor on occasion that even Doulingo's programmers can't figure out what it's saying.
If not true, then I guess that I will never be able to get the question right except by chance.
Of course any given translation problem is in itself not very important but I am in the process of reviewing all my past lessons with a view to going over them until I get them all perfect. Losing hearts on mistakes that I shouldn't be making because of my own errors is tolerable but losing them because I just can't make out what is being said because it is poorly pronounced and matched with an equally indistinct, almost identical word in the same sentence is very frustrating.
I can hear a subtle difference but I don't hear it as an I sound but maybe as a slight broadening of an a sound. Neither one sounds close to chat or chien,especially chien as played by other services.
I'm accustomed to the poor sound quality here but am concerned with juxtaposing two similar sounding words in the same sentence when both are poorly pronounced.
Yep - this threw me too. To me it sounds like it is saying 'un chat' et une chatte' - I can just about hear the distinction playing it back but if I were speaking to a French person in reality then I would never get it. However I have listened to the sentence on Reverso and there is a complete distinction between 'chien' and 'chat'.
I feel your frustration. It took 3 times on slower to think I heard chien first after having already put chat first. Then I crossed my fingers after changing it and hoped. Luckily I got it, but man it's hard to get through some of the audio here. Perhaps as a native french speaking person this audio could suffice. But, c'mon, what frenchman is on here learning french!
Actually, some of the posters on various threads on Duo seem to be pretty damn good with their French already. I wonder if they are here to sharpen their translation skills from an English point of view.
Whatever, all the better for us novices to get pointers towards improving our abilities.
I completely agree with Northernguy. Playing it back at normal speed numerous times and I'm left thinking that Duo does have the animals reversed. Playing it at slow speed is a bit garbled but still sounds like a mistake on their part. For what it's worth I took several years of French ages ago while in school, and though not an expert I believe I can tell subtle differences in pronunciation. I've reported several audio issues in the French lessons already, and will report this as well. Not sure why but the audio in the Spanish is crystal clear compared to this.
i know! they are talking about differentiating two words, but i didn't know what the hell it said at all! if the text wasn't write in front of me... really i still don't believe the audio is the same as the text. i can't even explain what that sounds like. i closed my eyes trying to concentrate to no avail.
I am going to be straightforward with you. 60'ish days ago, I would have said the very same thing you are saying now. You'll pick it up, I promise. Just keep at it. If you want to practice hearing how each is said, use this website: http://www.acapela-group.com/text-to-speech-interactive-demo.html Hope that helps!
I am hoping I'll get better at this. It really did sound reversed to me. I trust that it's me because I know that I do need more practice. I'm trying to be philosophical about this. If I got to the end of the tree and didn't really know how to speak and listen to the language, then I'd be more upset than if I had to repeat a bunch of lessons.
The phenomenon you're referring to is called liaison and only happens in certain circumstances. Liaison between 'et' and 'un' would be forbidden as it crosses a phrase boundary, which is generally how liaison is decided, though there are some exceptions, such as names and the words 'onze' and 'oui'.
The sentence breaks down as follows: "[Nous avons] [un chein] et [un chat]". Everything in the square brackets forms a phrase in which adjacent words are subject to liaison, where possible. 'Et' isn't part of the same noun phrase as 'un chat', so you can't have liaison between 'et' and 'un'. On the other hand, 'nous' and 'avons' are part of the same phrase, so you have liaison there due to 'avons' starting with a vowel.
That rule of thumb covers most places where you do and don't have liaison, but I'd advise you to read the about.com article on liaison too: http://french.about.com/library/pronunciation/bl-liaisons.htm
Le chat = male cat or cat of unknown gender. Used in plural form to refer to male cats, cats of unknown gender and any group of cats where there is known to be at least one male cat even if the rest are known to be female.
La chatte = cat known to be female. In plural form used to refer a group of cats known to be exclusively female.
In ordinary conversation no one will stop you and say.... hey wait a minute, you said that cat was female and we don't really know that for sure.
However there is a common practice that should be used if you intend or need your speech or writing to be accurate.
Edit: Many posters have commented on various threads that, aside from any grammar rules, la chatte carries slang connotations that can easily be imagined. Thus, using it in routine conversation is an attention getter if nothing else.
There something wrong in the lesson. In some sentence there is "tomcat" or "male cat" for "le chat" requested, And here the solution:
"We have a dog and a tomcat" is marked as wrong.
Either its always right to translate "chat" with "cat" or "tomcat" or not. But it can not be that in one lesson "tomcat" or "male cat" is expected and in other lessons it is the wrong translation
Le chat is any cat not known to be female, which means it may or may not be male. You can not, on the strength of le chat alone, say that it is male. La chatte is any cat known to be female which means, on the strength of la chatte alone, you can say it is female. See my discussion above for how they are used.
As for tomcat, I can't recall ever seeing that as an alternative offered by Duo for chat. Are you sure you didn't get that from Google Translate or some such translation service?
Un chat is used to refer to a male cat or a cat of unknown gender.
Une chatte is used to refer to a female cat.
In this case we don't know the gender of the cat. Sometimes Duo will let you use feminine when the gender is unknown and sometimes not. But they will never take a heart for using masculine when the actual gender is unknown.
That doesn't mean if you don't know the proper form. Only if the proper form can't be known. If you don't know whether a cat is male or female then use the masculine form. If the problem is not whether you know the gender but that you just can't remember how to write it or say it then get a dictionary, otherwise you will be wrong.
The pronunciation for chatte and chat is too close. I know the arguments that no one will ask in mid conversation which you mean and all but its a little too close for isolated translations like this. If you put the words chat & chatte together then yes I can hear a difference but not out of nowhere! How is this productive learning if we end up more confused that before? :/
There is definitely a difference in pronunciation between chat and chatte.
Go to Google Transalte. Plug both chat and chatte into one phrase and hit the little speaker button in the dialog box. You will be able to easily hear the difference when they are pronounced in a manner where the word is emphasized. The next time you get chatte in a Duo example, save it so you can keep both pages open at the same time. Flip back and forth between the two sound samples at the same time. This will help you hear the difference when it is said in a more conversational style.
Hundreds of millions of French speakers routinely pronounce the T in chatte in a subtle way, yet it is still understood. Duo is telling you that while medium fluent French speakers have that ability, you do not. The only way to easily hear such sounds is to practice listening for them when they are not deliberately emphasized. The best way to know if you are really hearing them is to lose a heart if you don't.
When I first started with Duo I would fail to notice when the d in grand/e was pronounced. Like t in chatte, the sound of the d in grande indicates that it is feminine. After practicing identifying the d on Google Translate, I used Duo's habit of taking the heart every time I missed it in conversation style, to program me to wait for the final letter as soon as I hear the starting sound of grand. Now the d in grande leaps out at me. I wonder how I could ever have missed it on those occasions when I failed to hear it when actually trying to be sure if it was there.
The t in chatte is there and can be heard. Now if you want to talk about the similarity between chien and chat in ordinary conversation, there is something that is truly difficult for me.