L’Arabe Ali est mort au lit. Moralité: Maure Ali, t’es mort alité.
lah-rah bah-LEE ay more oh LEE. mo-rah-lee-TAY: mo-rah-lee, tay mo-rah-lee-TAY. Click below to hear this pronounced!
The Arab, Ali, died in bed. Moral: Ali the Moor, you died bedridden.
Before you spend too much time wondering what this is all about, remember that it’s Tonguetwister Tuesday, the day we come up with an extra dose of linguistic weirdness for you!
So today it’s more homonyms. First we have the fable, a story in one line, and then the supposed moral (which in French is called la moralité) of the tale, summing it up.
It’s the second half that contains all the fun. Here it is, dissected for you, with the pronunciation of each section of the sentence:
Maure Ali, t’es… mo-rah-LEE tay…
mort alité. mo-rah-lee-TAY.
See? Same exact pronunciation three times! There is a slight shift in the intonation in the second iteration, because of the comma, but for the sake of the tonguetwister you can fudge that a little.
If you can get your pronunciation precise enough, and if you can get going fast enough, you will give even native speakers a moment’s pause while they figure out what exactly you just said. So don’t be surprised if you see a slightly stunned look passing across their face. That just means Hein? (a nice nasal aa, Huh?)