Italian Lessons | Italian Grammar

Pronunciation and Alphabet

Italian Alphabet and Sounds

Italian alphabet is identical to the English one but the sound of certain letters is different. There are double letter which sound differently from single ones and vowels are crucial and a lot more stressed than what they are in english. Every letter or sound is represented in one unique way, every letter is always read in the same way, you will never see ph for f or other tricks present in French and English, for instance.

LetterPronunciationName in italian
aLike in “Father”A
bLike in “But”Bi (English: Bee)
cLike in “Chess” if the following letter is e/i, otherwise it’s like in “Cake”Ci (English: Chee)
dLike in “Diamond”Di (English: Dee)
eLike in “Elephant”E
fLike in “Father”Effe (English: EffE)
gLike in “General” if the following letter is e/i, otherwise it’s like in “Gun”Gi (English: Gee)
hnever pronounced, but if between c (or g) and e/i, it changes their sound (look c,g)Acca
iLike the double “E” sound in “Street”, never as “Island”, never as “Kid”I (English: Ee)
jJay/ ilunga
lLike in “Left”Elle
mLike in “Metal”Emme
nLike in “Never”Enne
oLike in “Opera”O
pLike in “People”Pi (English: Pee)
qalways followed by U, it’s like in “Quarterback”Qu (English Ku)
rLike in “Rock” but the sound is a bit different: italians pronounce it by making the tip of the tongue tremble closer to the front teethErre
sLike in “Sing”Esse
tLike in “Time”Ti (English: Tea)
uLike in “Bush”U (English: oo)
vLike in “Volleyball”Vi (English Vee)
wDoppia V
zLike in “Zen” however the exact pronounce is usually more stressed, “dura” in italian, even to the point of sounding like “CatsZeta
  • Since j, k, w, x, y are not “italian” letters, that is to say they are only used for foreign words, they are pronounced exactly like in English

Particular phonemes

There are, however, digraphs/trigraphs that have their own particular phonemes:

LettersPronunciationWords in Italian
glicalled “laterale palatale” [ʎ], it’s very close to the sound of “Yes” or “Yiddish”.Paglia (straw), Aglio (garlic)
gncalled “nasale palatale” [ɲ], this sound is made by sticking your tongue on your palate while pronouncing a sort of N; as a result the sound will be nasal. In Spanish this sound is represented by the letter ñ, in English it could be rendered, for example, in a mispronounced “onion” ['ʌɲjən]Another way that it could be rendered is the same as the word “Poignant,” as the sound of the “gn” is identical to what it sounds like in Italian.Gnocchi, Bolognese
sce/scithe sound of the digraph SC (normally that of “Sky), when followed immediately by E or I, becomes that of “Shame”. Coherently, the word “Schermo” (screen), is to be pronounced like skermo, not like scermo, because of the letter h immediately after the digraph.Scienza (science), Scegliere (to choose)

Content is available under GNU Free Documentation License Source: Wikibooks

No comments yet.