This morning I was teaching French by giving commands for my students to follow.
Me: "Sentez l'orange !" (Smell the orange!)
Students: Pause, puzzled. Finally, one starts swaying a little bit and kind of chanting "L'orange, l'orange, l'orange." The others join in.
Me: Very confused.
Then I realized what was going on. mmmBELLYmay doesn't make a difference between "s" and "sh" in words, they just alternate freely.
So, my students heard "Chantez l'orange !" And so they did. They sang "the orange" very nicely actually. Relevance Theory at work, my friends, powerfully at work.
This has come up before when we've told stories about Jesus chasing demons out of people. "Chasser" becomes "sachet", and I guess we have Jesus putting demons in plastic bags. Hmmm.
So, my dear francophone friends, I need your help. I'm going to tackle s/sh confusion, and to do that I need sets of words in French that differ only in those two sounds. (Like sin/shin in English, in case any non Francophone/nonlinguist cares.) Minimal or near minimal pairs as it were, O fellow linguists, preferably nice concrete nouns or verbs we can act out.