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Marco: All About Italian Lesson 4 - Learn Italian Pronunciation
Marco: Welcome back to ItalianPod101.com! In this lesson, we'll show you how easy it is to start speaking Italian.
Laura: That's because we'll be focusing on pronunciation!
Marco: Believe it or not, pronunciation is one of the easiest aspects of the Italian language.
Laura: We'll show you just how easy it is and give you tips on how to perfect your pronunciation.
Marco: Trust me, Italian is a language where words are rarely difficult to pronounce or to hear!
Laura: Oh, that's true! That's because the great majority of Italian words end in vocals.
Marco: Okay, first we take a look at how Italian sounds work. Italian doesn't have that many sounds compared to other languages, right?
Laura: That's right. It has only sixteen consonants and five vowels.
Marco: Yes, and Italian is made up of the combination of these consonants and vowels. Let's hear some examples of Italian words.
Laura: The first one is "gelato."
Marco: "Gelato" means "ice cream." This word has three syllables, all of which have one consonant and one vowel. How about another one?
Laura: The next one is "pesca."
Marco: "Pesca" means "peach." This one has a consonant-vowel combination, followed by two consonants combined together making the sound of [sc].
Laura: And there's a particularity about the first vowel, the "-e."
Marco: What do you mean?
Laura: In Italian, the "-e" could be pronounced with two accents. In this case, it's called "the open -e."
Marco: Is there a closed "-e" sound as well?
Laura: Yes, for example in "pèsca." "Pèsca" means "fishing." In this case, it should be pronounced with a closed sound. Only the "-e" and "-o" have two sounds, but in general it is pretty simple.
Marco: What's the "-o" sound like?
Laura: For example, in "botte."
Marco: Meaning "barrel."
Laura: And "bòtte," meaning "beatings."
Marco: Beatings, ouch! We don't want to confuse these two words then.
Laura: Hehe, no, better not to. Now let's move on to the pronunciation!
Marco: Yes. For English speakers who have a variety of ways to say vowels, this could be a relief.
Laura: English uses lots of different pronunciation, but Italian doesn't change that much. An "-a" is pronounced in only one way. And so on with all the other letters. That's it.
Marco: That's great! What about stress?
Laura: Italian has stress as well. Not the one you feel after a day of work! We mean the accents.
Marco: Is there some rule about that?
Laura: The best way to remember the stress mechanism is to listen to the natives, but aside from that, we could say that comparing the words in English and Italian could help you find your way through it.
Marco: For example?
Laura: For example, compare the word "navale" and "naval," meaning "pertaining to ships" in both languages.
Marco: In this case, a word composed of two syllables, the stress on the English word is on the first "-a." In Italian, which is a three-syllable word, it falls on the second "-a."
Laura: Yes. There are tons of examples like this. But keep in mind to listen carefully to natives.
Marco: That's right. Listening and repeating are really the keys to improving your pronunciation. Listen to and copy native speakers as much as you can. Anyway, do you have some tips for our listeners?
Laura: Sure! Italian words are usually stressed on the penultimate syllable, as happens with the following words..."casa"
Marco: "House."
Laura: "Marito."
Marco: "Husband."
Laura: Or, "intelligente."
Marco: "Intelligent."
Laura: Sometimes the stress can also fall on the third to last syllable, as in "pubblico."
Marco: "Public."
Laura: Please remember when the stress is on the last syllable, it is always indicated by an accent. For example, in "caffè."
Marco: "Coffee."
Laura: And "felicità", happiness.
Marco: Thank you, Laura, that's an interesting combination of words, coffee and happiness!!
Laura: Hehe, I didn't say it purposely. I don't drink coffee that much!