French puts the "fun" in iPhone
April 3, 2010 9:19 AM   Subscribe

How do the French pronounce the "i" in iPhone?

I listened to this French interview about the initial launch of the iPhone. It sounds like the interviewer says "eye-fun," but I only heard it once near the beginning of the clip. I believe I hear the interviewee say "ee-fun" several times. How do the French pronounce the "i" in iPhone? Is it different in France and in French-speaking Canada?
posted by Joleta to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
ee-phone. "i" is pronounced "ee" in French.
posted by Billegible at 9:29 AM on April 3, 2010

My Francophone coworker always referred to the iPod as "eye-pod". I imagine brand names get a pass on traditional phonetics.
posted by Phire at 9:47 AM on April 3, 2010

"ee–tunes" BUT "eye–pod" so I suspect "eye–phone" for France. I don't know about Quebec.
posted by fantasticninety at 9:49 AM on April 3, 2010

in France, either "ee" phone or "eye" phone, to acknowledge the origin of the device. Both are very common, and the later doesn't even imply show-off.
posted by nicolin at 10:12 AM on April 3, 2010

Actual french advert. It's "eye-phone"
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 10:16 AM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yep, "i" as in "eye" as in English. iPod, iPhone, iTunes, same as in English.

(References: American, I've lived in France for 11 years, speak French fluently, am a professional French to English translator, and I specialize in IT, so I'm surrounded by French people talking about IT stuff most of the time.)
posted by fraula at 10:24 AM on April 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

Whatever it's supposed to be, the french people I work with say "ee-phone". Personal choice I guess.
posted by Billegible at 11:17 AM on April 3, 2010

The "phone" part would be "fon," no?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:56 AM on April 3, 2010

"I" is also pronounced "ee" in German and I've only heard Germans pronounce it "eye-phone." "E" is pronounced "eh" but they still pronounce "e-mail" and "e-commerce" as English speakers would.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 12:43 PM on April 3, 2010

Maybe it's "eye" in France and "ee" in Quebec - my instinct was "ee," and I'm in Quebec.
posted by Devika at 12:46 PM on April 3, 2010

Billegible, you're in Montreal according to your profile? Québecois are generally more faithful to French pronunciation rules than French people (in France) are. It's not "personal choice", but rather France vs. Québec.

As for "fon" it depends on how you hear it... American regional accents have slight differences in vowels (I can hear it a lot more now that I've lived outside the US for a while), as do French regional accents. My Oregonian ears hear "phone" here in southeastern France, but it's true that many Americans have a stronger "o" and so will tend hear the French pronunciation as being closer to "fun".
posted by fraula at 12:49 PM on April 3, 2010

Good question, and it's my guess many people around the world call it first the eePhone. And isn't it all by design? In the Asian market both Chinese and Japanese hear "eye" as "love" (愛) and the Japanese hear "ee" (ie the continental "i") as "good" -- and I can't believe that's all unintentional.
posted by Rash at 2:01 PM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Quebécoise here, and I've only ever heard it called "un eye-phone/pad/pod" (but the O in "pod" is frenchified a little).
posted by Freyja at 2:18 PM on April 3, 2010

Also Québécoise, also always hear "eye-phone".
posted by OLechat at 3:21 PM on April 3, 2010

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