I've found recently a second variant of pronunciation of 'cafe' word: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/cafe.

The usual one is /ˈkafeɪ/ ˈkæ-'fay

But the OD link gives this too: /ˈkafi/ ˈkæ-fee

I have heard this second pronunciation before on BBC. I'm eager to know if it's formal/informal version? Who and when say that?

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    I live in the US. I have never heard the second pronunciation, ever, until this moment. I'm aware that the stressed syllable varies. The pronunciation you link to is uncommon in American English. Apr 21 '16 at 19:10
  • @medica: that seems to be right. Oxford doesn't list it in their American English dictionary: oxforddictionaries.com/definition/american_english/cafe
    – herisson
    Apr 21 '16 at 19:13
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    I'm British, and I've never heard the second variant!
    – TrevorD
    Apr 21 '16 at 23:15
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    It should be noted that the word is often mispronounced intentionally by some people. It's a fun word to play games with.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 22 '16 at 12:53
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    Pavel: I've edited to include content fro OD. Please check to make sure I've preserved your intent. Have you really heard this second pronunciation previous to now on the BBC?
    – Mitch
    Apr 22 '16 at 15:57

Being French-speaking I can tell you the second pronunciation is the French one. When anglophone people say French words they always elongate the non-native vowels or even introduce diphthongs. That's quite understandable obviously. French from France tend to shorten vowels and eliminate diphthongs, but not French from Québec. We might even add them too! I could be more chatty about this but I'll leave it at that...

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    Surely French speakers say /kafe/, not /ˈkafi/?
    – herisson
    Apr 22 '16 at 5:10

The standard American pronunciation stresses the final syllable /kæˈfeɪ/, whereas many speakers of “Insular English” (that is, English from the British Isles) move the stress to the first syllable as is their wont in borrowings from Romance that are not normally stressed initially. This movement of the primary stress in the word also somewhat reduces and shortens the diphthong at the end.

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