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LESSON NOTES

Introduction to Italian #2
Introduction to Italian
Pronunciation

CONTENTS
2 Vocabulary
2 Sample Sentences
2 Grammar

# 2
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VOCABULARY

Italian English Class Gender

vero true adjective

palla ball noun feminine

maglia shirt noun

zero zero, nought, nil cardinal number

bene well adjective

SAMPLE SENTENCES

È vero che hai vinto il torneo? Vero o falso?

"Is it true you won the tournament?" "True or false?"

Portiamo la palla al mare. Questa maglia è vecchia e sporca.

"Let's bring the ball to the beach." "This shirt is old and dirty."

Ieri notte ha fatto zero gradi Balli bene, vero?


centigradi.
“You dance well, right?”
"Last night, it was zero degrees
Centigrade."

Bene, almeno ci ho provato. Sto bene.

"Well, at least I tried." "I'm fine."

GRAMMAR

Introduction to Italian Pronunciation

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The Basics of Timing

Italian is what is called a syllable-timed language. What this simply means is that every
syllable is pronounced for roughly an equal amount of time.

avranno ("they will have")

Notice how each syllable is pronounced for roughly the same amount of time? The first n is
held for roughly the same amount of time as all the other syllables.

avranno ("they will have")

English, on the other hand, is a "stress-timed" language. Unstressed syllables are often
shortened, while stressed syllables are pronounced longer.

op-por-TU-ni-ty

The stressed syllable "tu" in "opportunity" is pronounced longer than all the other syllables.

Even though Italian is not a stressed-timed language, individual words still have primary
stress. In most Italian words, the stress falls on the second to last syllable. So you'll
need to pronounce this a tiny, tiny bit longer and louder than the other syllables, but not by
much.

aVRAnno ("they will have")


buonGIORno ("Good morning")

Apart from the stressed syllable, all other syllables are pronounced for roughly an equal
amount of time.

English vs. Italian sounds

One of the biggest differences between English and Italian pronunciation, is that Italian is
largely phonetic, meaning most words are pronounced as they are written. This makes
learning Italian much simpler than learning English, for example.

For the most part, English and Italian share the same consonant and vowel sounds.

i, u,
b, d, f, m

In fact, 75% of ALL sounds in Italian are similar to English, so most of these sounds will be

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familiar to you.

Some sounds, however, will be quite new. The good news though is that these will be very
limited.

e (in bene)
e (in vero)
z (in zero)
gl (in maglia)

Let's briefly take a look at some of the unique sounds of Italian.

The Unique Sounds of Italian

First, let's start with the vowels.


There are five vowels in Italian: A, E, I, O, and U.
The vowels A, I, and U, will always be pronounced in the same way.

a, i, u

These sounds should be relatively easy for you to duplicate.

The vowels E, and O, however, will be a little more challenging.

They each have two variant sounds: One 'open' version, and one 'closed' version. The open
version requires you to 'open' your mouth wide, while the 'closed' version is pronounced
more narrowly.

Compare the open E, followed by a closed E.

e (open), e (closed)

Now the open O, followed by the closed O.

o (open), o (closed)

Even when there are two or more vowels in a row, just pronounce them separately.

aereo ("airplane")

As we mentioned before, most consonant sounds are identical to the ones found in English.
How would you pronounce this word in Italian?

spaghetti

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Despite not knowing Italian pronunciation, the chances are that your pronunciations of the
S, P, and G consonants were spot on. Most consonants you encounter shouldn't be too
difficult for you to pronounce.

Some consonants, like the rolled R sound in Italian however, will be more challenging.
Let's consider grazie, meaning "thank you."
This word uses the rolled R sound.
To pronounce this sound, place the tip of your tongue on the gum ridge behind your upper
teeth, just like you do when you want to say the English D sound. Then relax your tongue,
and blow out air.
Concentrate the air pressure at the tip of your tongue and gum ridge. The air will push your
tongue away from the gum ridge. When this happens, try to force your tongue back into
position. This should all happen very quickly.
One useful trick, is to flip your tongue up and back against the gum ridge the very moment
you feel the air begin to push through.

Double Consonants

Another significant aspect of Italian pronunciation, is the pronunciation of double


consonants. Unlike English, double consonants must be pronounced clearly and held for
longer periods of time in Italian. Failure to do so could result in miscommunication.

pala ("shovel")
palla ("ball")

Remember how Italian is a syllable-timed language? Imagine that you're holding that
consonant sound for one extra syllable.

pa-l-la ("ball")

Many learners do not hold the sound for long enough, so when in doubt, pronounce it a
little longer than you would normally.

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