Italian Accents and Proper Italian Pronunciation
Students who are learning English as a second language find pronunciation and grammar notoriously difficult. It is a language with as many rules as there are exceptions to them. Don’t worry, Italian pronunciation is much easier to learn. Most Italian vocabulary words that you will study are pronounced phonetically. When there is a slight change to this, you will find the word will include Italian accents, which will guide you to the proper Italian pronunciation.
If you are reading Italian from a book, you will find it easy to sound words out and you will likely find you are pronouncing Italian quite well. However, learning phonology is more difficult. Phonology is the way you speak the words of a language out loud. When you are learning the Italian language, the most difficult part of phonology is knowing what syllable to stress.
The only letters in Italian that have accents are vowels. There are five vowels in the Italian alphabet, a, e, i, o and u. Any vowel that is the last letter of a word can have a grave accent (è) only the letters e can have the acute accent (é).
Here are some examples of pronunciation of the Italian accents.
è - caffè – kaf-feh
é – perché – per-keh
ì – venerdì – ven-ar-dih
ò – però – per-oh
ù – virtù – ver-too
The difference between the Italian accents is simply the pronunciation of the vowel. The downward stroking or grave accent indicates a closed sound, where the upwards stroking or acute accent indicates an open sound.
It is common for Italians to not use accents when spelling however students are strongly encouraged to use accents at all times. This can be of great assistance when it comes to learning to speak Italian with ease and ensuring the correct Italian pronunciation. There are only a handful of Italian words in which the accent can change meaning.
For those that are native English speakers, mastering the correct sound of Italian vowels can be difficult. Once you have mastered these sounds though, you will find that your Italian accent is much easier to understand and overall more authentic. Most English speakers pronounce their vowels closed and with an emphasis on the throat and nasal cavity. When practicing Italian, concentrate on pronouncing your vowels across the top of your mouth with an open throat. While it’s a peculiar image to have in your mind, many students have found that is works.
Your phonology and pronunciation when learning Italian can be aided much by learning with a native speaker. Watching Italian movies or radio shows is a great way of exposing yourself to the language, especially if you can’t afford that dream holiday to Italy just yet. A great way to ensure you have fantastic Italian pronunciation is learning Italian by subscribing to a podcast. Italianpod101 subscribers have access to many tools, including a great variety of podcasts where you can listen to native speakers and learn to speak Italian the way the real Italians do.