I'm a native speaker of English and I don't think French sounds sing-songy at all, on the contrary, it sounds very flat and staccato to me, as does Spanish.Really...?
The French language didn't just drop these missing sounds in one go, they were slowly lenited over time. Example: fidem>fedem>fede>feide>feidhe>feidh>fei>foi (some of these steps might be unattested). In the case of augustus, the accusative ending became an o and then disappeared, the initial diphthong simplified, the /g/ became an approximant and then disappeared, the /s/ debuccalized and then disappeared with compensatory vowel lengthening, which also eventually disappeared. (Although it's still present in North American French. If you go to Québec, mettre and maître are pronounced differently.) You can hear the debuccalization of /s/ in some dialects of of Spanish today, where syllable-final /s/ is pronounced as /h/.Exhibit A: the month of August. It's a fairly substantial word in Latin, with three syllables, four consonants, two simple vowels and a luxury diphthong to crown it all. It's not difficult to see how augustus could turn into agosto or agost or even gustar; one could imagine any number of other changes, such as the G turning into a Dutch-style voiced guttural, or the S dropping out – S drops out a lot. But it's impossible to imagine that by any natural process francophones would have decided to drop everything from the word and turn it into nothing more than an exclamation. Mind you, they did the same with aqua, but there was less to drop. There are dark forces at work here.
I think it depends on the sentence.
I pronounce it as è in all circumstances (well, except when I make a liaison and pronounce it as èt, but I mean the vowel is always è for me).I think it depends on the sentence.
Most people I know, and myself, would prononce the est in "Il est très bien" as é.
Whereas in the famous children's saying "c'est toi qui l'as dit, c'est toi qui l'es", I've only ever heard it as è. Same with "je ne suis pas grand, mais lui il l'est". That would sound like è. I would never, ever pronounce that é. Some people do pronounce it as é but it immediately identifies them with the "français de banlieue".
Now that I'm writing this, I'm wondering if we don't keep the è sound when "est" is the final word in a sentence, and pronounce it as é when it's between two words...
I sometimes do, sometimes don't.Do you pronounce the t?
Ferai is generally pronounced the same as ferais in France though (with the è vowel), but this is something peculiar about the future 1SG -ai ending. Allé and allait are usually distinguished in France.Regarding é and è, and [o] and [ɔ], it seems in modern Metropolitan French, the distinction has become one of phonetic environment, with é and [o] alternating with è and [ɔ] depending on whether it's in a closed or open syllable. In school I was taught allé and ferai are not pronounced as allait and ferais, but I hear most French people saying é for all four. What do you think?
aetātem is also attested earlier on as éḍéṭ [eˈðe(ː)θ], and also ayé and aé, and with diphthongization of the raised -á- also ééiṭ > ééi and aiéi and aéi.aetātem > Old French ëé [e.ˈe]