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Christophe Grandsire ha tera a:
> En réponse à Mark J. Reed :

> > Incidentally, to my non-native-French ear it seems that
> > the closest French vowel to [U] is the one in "oeuf".

> Really? "oeuf" is [9f], i.e. the vowel is the rounded version of [E].

> I would have thought you would compare [U] rather with [u] and [o]
> than with [9]. The distance with that one looks rather far...
> And to my French ear, [U] sounds nothing like [9].
> As Philippe showed very  well, we confuse it rather with [u].

I, as another non-french speaker, can confirm that I hear a resemblance
between the vowel in "oeuf" and [U], although I'd rather say that [9]
sounds like [U] than that [U] sounds like [9].  Maybe it has to do with
that they're both lax rounded vowels.

Here's my theory:
English speakers don't have [9] in their inventory, so they hear it as
being close to [U].

French speakers don't have [9] in their inventory, so they hear it as
being closer to [u] (which objectively, it is).

(Some) English speakers would rather hear [U] and [9] as being alike
than [U] and [u], because that way they don't have to ignore a phonemic
distinction that they've learnt.

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