A2

 

 

 

FONETICA

The Alphabet, Spelling and Phonetic Conventions
 

 

 

Italian is a highly phonetic language. This means that each sound is (almost) always graphically represented by the same combination of letters (vowels and/or consonants.) Compare that with English where, as Bernard Shaw once famously said, the word "fish" could be written "ghoti": "F" as in enough;  "I" as in women; "SH" as in the ending of nation.  


ALFABETO / ALPHABET



alphabet
 

A

*ah

B

bi
C

ci
D

di
E

*a

F

effe
G

gi
H

acca
I

*ee

L

elle
M

emme
N

enne
O

*oh

P

pi
Q

cu
R
 
erre
S

esse
T

ti
U

*oo

V

vi
Z

zeta

 



VOCALI




 

CONSONANTI

Phonetic Conventions

These pronunciation conventions are fixed.
That means that every time you encounter these clusters,
the pronunciation is always the same


 

"C" and "G"

The letter "C" has two different sounds, depending on the vowels that follow it:

 
 

"K" sound: CASA  COMO  CUBO

  Followed by A, O, U, "C" will have a hard sound similar to English "K".
   

"K" sound: CHILOMETRO  ORCHESTRA

  In order to obtain the hard sound "K", when "C" is followed by the vowels E and I, the letter "H" is inserted.
 

"ch" sound: CENA  CINEMA

Followed by E, I, "C" will have a soft sound similar to English "CH"
 

"ch" sound: CIACIOCCOLATO  CIUFFO

In order to obtain the soft sound "CH", when "C" followed by the vowels A, O and U, the letter"I" is inserted.

"SCA, SCO. SCU, SCHE, SCHI"

(analysis:  S+CA,  S+CO,  S+CU,  S+CHI,  S+CHE)

The sound corresponds to the English "SK"

 

 
  SCATOLA    SCOPA    SCUSA    SCHIFO   BRUSCHETTA

Confront here with the sound "sh" below


"SCI, SCE, SCIA, SCIO, SCIU"

The sound corresponds to the English "Sh"

 
Confront here with the sound "SK" above


 
  SCI    SCENA    SCIARPA    SCIOPERO   ASCIUGARE
 

"GN"

The sound corresponds to the Spanish  ""

 

 

LAVAGNA   GNOCCO   IGNUDO   BAGNINO   LASAGNE

ble>

"GLI"

It is probably the most difficult sound to produce for a non-native speaker.

   

  MAGLIA   AGLIO   GLI   MOGLIE

 

  In front of another vowel or in isolation, the cluster "GLI"  is pronunced as in the soundfile examples.
 

 

 

 

 

 

5 PAROLE

  fonetica  
  alfabeto  
  lettera letter
  vocale  vowel
  consonante  consonant

 

 

 

 
FONETICA

leggere l'italiano

How to break down words into syllables

FONETICA

1) RECORD YOURSELF READING EACH WORD

2) Read each word using  speech-to-text and see if you pronounced correctly.

3 ) Click the image and listen to the proper pronunciation.

Compare your recording to the correct sound. Which individual sounds did you get wrong? Try to focus on the mistakes you made


RICOTTA
ri-co-tta

BRUSCHETTA
brus-che-tta


CILIEGIA MARASCHINO
ci-lie-gia ma-ras-chi-no

SPAGHETTI CON LE COZZE
spa-ghe-tti con le co-zze


MACCHERONI
ma-cche-ro-ni


FORMAGGIO
for-ma-ggio

FOCACCIA
fo-ca-ccia

BISCOTTI CANTUCCI
bis-co-tti can-tu-cci

SPINACI
spi-na-ci

FORCHETTA e SPAGHETTI
for-che-tta e spa-ghe-tti


CUCCHIAIO
cu-cchia-io

CIOCCOLATO
cio-cco-la-to

 

1

 

7

8

9


 

12

13

14

15

 

16

 

 

 

CONSONANTI DOPPIE
DOUBLE CONSONANTS

The short version.

EXPLANATION

To pronounce double consonants in Italian it is necessary to SHORTEN the length of the
vowel that precedes them.

Listen carefully to the examples below and pay particular attention to the vowel before the consonants.

In the first column you will hear the regular vowel at the normal length.

In the second column the same vowel is shortened considerably.

DOUBLE CONSONANTS IN ENGLISH?

English does not really have minimal pairs based on shortening of the vowels but it  relies a lot on the LENGTH of vowels to differentiate between similar words.

EXAMPLE:  "writer" and "rider" are pronounced the same way EXCEPT for the length of
the vowel cluster "ay"    [rayder - rayder].

Which one sounds longer?


An example of double consonant could be the pronunciation of  "whazzup"
The double zz sound is reinforced by shortening the vowel "a" that precedes it.

Two words that differ ony by ONE sound,
are called MINIMAL PAIRS
 

pala
(shovel)
palla
(ball)
stele
(stele)
stelle
(stars)
Pina
(Josephine)
pinna
(fin)
rena 
(sand)
renna
(reindeer)
tono
(tone
tonno
(tuna fish)
fumo
(smoke)
fummo*
(we were
m'ama*
(s/he loves me)
mamma
( mommy  )
casa
(home)
cassa
(box)
caro
(dear)
carro
(wagon)

 

 

papa
(pope)
pappa
(baby food)
 
rupe
(cliff)
ruppe*
(s/he broke)
 
meta
(goal)
metta*
(put)
 
rito
(rite)
ritto
(straight up)
 
copia
(copy)
coppia
(couple)
 
lego*
(i tie)
leggo*
(I read   )
 
capello
(hair)
cappello
(hat)
 
sete
(thirst)
sette
(seven)
 
baco
(silk worm)
Bacco
(Bacchus)
 
note
(notes)
notte
(night)

Words marked with an asterisk (*) are
verb forms (fummo: we were -- remote past.)

 

 SPEECHNOTES

Works with GOOGLE CHROME
 

 

CONSONANTI DOPPIE
DOUBLE CONSONANTS

The long version.

Double consonants are a peculiar and sometimes baffling aspect of Italian.

First of all, the local "accent" in many regions totally ignores double consonants, for instance in the Veneto region (capital Venice,) but this is also true, to some extent, for the entire North.

In the South, the tendency is the opposite, namely people tend to double consonants that do not appear in the written version. The extreme case is the island of Sardinia. To a Northern ear, it sounds like in the speech of Sardinians, all consonants are doubled.

How is the 'double' consonant sound produced?

With letters such as L, R, M, N, S, F, it "appears" as if it is sufficient to prolong the sound a little more. But with sounds like B, P, T, D, G, C, J, and ch, it is impossible to extend the sound.

IN REALITY, double consonants are simply a marker to indicate that the VOWEL that precedes that sound is SHORTENED considerably, to about 1/2 the regular length of the phoneme. The phonemic energy saved by shortening the vowel, is unloaded "explosively" on the following consonant, giving the impression of a doubling of the length, while in reality it is the vowel that is responsible for the entire phenomenon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Listen to more

consonanti doppie

 

 


 

 




 

 


MORE AND MORE EXERCISES
BASIC PHONETICS
1

2

3

4

5

6

7

 



 

 


PER IL PIACERE DI SAPERLO (for the pleasure of knowing it.)

                                 
Telephone spelling

 

When they spell a word or name, Italians we use the names of cities.

Fo
r the word "CASA" (house) we would say:  COMO, ANCONA, SIENA, ANCONA etc.



* In theory ANY city will do, but the tendency is to use the LARGEST cities everybody knows:   Bari Firenze Genova Milano Napoli Palermo Roma Torino Venezia.

* Some cities are FIXED (where the choice is limited):  Ancona Domodossola Empoli Imola Livorno Otranto Udine.


* For the other letters the choice is more or less flexible.

 

Click to hear the pronunciation


 A  Ancona*
 B  Bologna
 C  Como
 D  Domodossola*
 E  Empoli*
 F  Firenze
 G  Genova
 H Acca  Hotel
 I  Imola*
 L  Livorno*
 M  Milano
 

 

 N  Napoli
 O  Otranto*
 P  Palermo
 Q "Cu"  Quadro
 R  Roma
 S  Siena
 T  Torino
 U  Udine*
 V  Venezia
 Z Zeta Zero

* Ancona Domodossola Empoli Imola Livorno Otranto Udine are more or less 'obligatory' for the respective initials.


Spell your first and last name
using the Italian telephone spelling


List the cities here


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

spelling al telefono

INDIETRO   AVANTI