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Lesson Transcript

Laura: "Buongiorno!" "Sono Laura."
Marco: Marco here! Italian Pronunciation Series Lesson 1–the Italian Alphabet.
Marco: Hello, and welcome to ItalianPod101.com, the fastest, easiest, and most fun way to learn Italian!
Laura: I'm Laura, and thanks for being here with us for this Pronunciation lesson.
Marco: What is our focus today, Laura?
Laura: Today we will talk about the Italian alphabet.
Marco: It will be like learning notes for composing music.
Laura: Yes, Italian is such a melodic language, don't you think?
Marco: Absolutely. That's why I'm studying it.
Laura: Today, we will speak standard Italian.
Marco: that's originally from Tuscany, right?
Laura: Yes, of course, it changed a bit from the Middle Ages, but it's essentially the same.
Marco: The first time I was in Italy, I noticed that no one spoke the same way as my language teacher.
Laura: In Italy, there are many different dialects and regional accents. But standard Italian is, of course, the standard.
Marco: So that's what I would hear on TV, right?
Laura: Correct. If you stick to standard Italian, you won't have any problems in communicating. You will also get different accents quite soon.
Marco: As long as I manage to order food, I'm happy!
Laura: Marco, do you remember how many letters there are in the Italian alphabet?
Marco: Twenty-one or twenty-six...I always forget about that.
Laura: Well, both answers would be correct. In the Italian alphabet there are twenty-one letters for words of Italian origin, plus another five that we use for loanwords.
Marco: A loanword?
Laura: Yes, words of foreign origin. For example, "yogurt" or "yoga" are both written with a “ipsilon” that is "-Y."
Marco: That sounds like a very healthy start.
Laura: We need some positive energy to go through the alphabet in one lesson. So we have twenty-six letters that we call graphemes, but overall we have thirty sounds that we call phonemes.
Marco: Some letters can have two or more different ways of pronunciation. It depends on where they are positioned in a word.
Laura: That sounds complicated, but it will be a lot easier once we get a go at it. So, let's start to see our Italian letters one by one.
Marco: Wow, it feels like my first day in school.
Laura: Good, so let's start with the first twenty-one…"-a," "-b," "-c," "-d"
Marco: "-e," "-f," "-g," "-h," "-i"
Laura: "-l," "-m," "-n," "-o," "-p," "-q"
Marco: "-r," "-s," "-t," "-u," "-v," "-z."
Laura: That sounded really nice, don't you think?
Marco: Yes, and if you repeat this like a mantra every day, you'll get the hang of it soon.
Laura: Repeat it while doing your morning yoga exercises.
Marco: Or while eating your morning yogurt.
Laura: Maybe speaking while eating is not such a good idea.
Marco: You're right, but this is just my first day in school, so please excuse my poor manners.
Laura: So it's time to get to work on our alphabet…"-a," "-b," "-c," "-d."
Marco: Can we see some words with these letters?
Laura: Of course.
Marco: Let's start with "-a."
Laura: "-a," [aaaaa], "albero."
Marco: "Albero" means "tree." "-b."
Laura: "-b," [bbbb], "barba."
Marco: "Barba" means "beard." Now "-c."
Laura: "-c," [ccccc], "casa," or [chhh], "ciao."
Marco: "Casa" means "home." "Ciao" means "hello" or "goodbye." One letter, two very different sounds.
Laura: Yes, a [cccc] and [ccchhh], depending on which letter follows after our "-c." We will learn that, don't worry.
Marco: Okay. Now "-d."
Laura: "-d," [dddd], "dito."
Marco: "Dito" means "finger."
Laura: By the way, "un dito" is a very useful measuring tool in Italy. "Un dito di vino," meaning "a finger of wine." Do you know what that means?
Marco: Well, if the finger is vertical, it means you are going to drink a lot of wine. If it's horizontal, you are going to drink just a little.
Laura: Don’'t worry, it's horizontal. But back to our alphabet now. "-e," "-f," "-g," "-h," "-i."
Marco: "-e," "-f," "-g," "-h," "-i." Any word with "-e," "-e" in English?
Laura: "-e," [eeeee], "elefante."
Marco: "Elefante" means "elephant." Now "-f."
Laura: "-f," [ffffffff], "fuoco."
Marco: [fffffff]...sounds like an angry cat. "Fuoco," That's "fire." "-g."
Laura: "-g," [gggggg], "gatto." Or [gggggggii], "giocare."
Marco: "Gatto" means "cat." "Giocare" means "to play." Again, the same letter, two different sounds.
Laura: That’'s right, "-c" and "-g" behave in the same way, changing their pronunciation depending on the letter that follows.
Marco: Okay. Now, any words with "acca" that is "-h"?
Laura: "Hotel."
Marco: Wait, I didn't hear any "-h" here. I heard just an "-o."
Laura: True, that's because it's a silent "-h." We call it “acca muta." Literally, "mute -h."
Marco: Oh, so the "acca" is never pronounced.
Laura: That’'s right. There's no sound for "acca." Sometimes it modifies the way words are pronounced, but we'll have a look at it in another lesson, so don't worry about that just now.
Marco: Got it. So, any word for "-i," that is "-i?"
Laura: "-i," [iiiiiii], "ieri."
Marco: "Ieri" means "yesterday."
Laura: And now on with the alphabet…"-l," "-m," "-n," "-o," "-p," "-q."
Marco: A word with "-l," please.
Laura: "Elle," [lllllll], "letto."
Marco: A "letto" is a "bed." "-m."
Laura: "-,m," [mmmmmmm], "matto."
Marco: "Matto" means "crazy." "-n."
Laura: "-n," [nnnnn], "notte."
Marco: "Notte," "night." "-o."
Laura: "-oO," [ooooo], "opera."
Marco: "Opera," of course. Very melodic indeed. "-p."
Laura: "-p," [ppppp], "pasta."
Marco: "Opera" and "pasta." Now you're getting a bit too obvious. "-q"
Laura: "-q," [qqqqqq], "quadro."
Marco: "Quadro" means "painting." That sounds like the "-c" for "casa" we saw just before, doesn't it? [kkkk].
Laura: "Casa," "quadro"...[kkkk]. Yes, now we get the same sound, but a different letter. We will learn when to use which another time. Just remember the sound [kkkkk] is sometimes written with a "-c" and sometimes with a "-q."
Marco: So now we have to see "-r," "-s," "-t," "-u," "-v," "-z."
Laura: Right. "erre"...[rrrrrrrr].
Marco: I just love the Italian [rrrr] sound!
Laura: As in "ratto
Marco: "Ratto," meaning "rat?" Couldn't you pick a nicer word for a nice-sounding letter? Anyway...
Laura: "Esse," [sssssss]..."sasso."
Marco: "Sasso" means "stone." Three "-s" here. "-t."
Laura: "-t," [ttttttt], "tetto."
Marco: "Tetto" means "roof." Again three "-t" nice one. "-u."
Laura: "-u," [uuuuu], "ufo."
Marco: "Ufo" is a "U.F.O." Now, "-v."
Laura: "-v," [vvvv], "vino."
Marco: "Wine," what else. Now the last one, "-z."
Laura: "Zeta," [zzzzz], "zanzara."
Marco. "A mosquito," of course. [Zzzzzz]...
Laura: Sounds just like you're getting sleepy. We still have to see the five extra letters. Remember them?
Marco: Here we go…"-j" is "i lunga," "-k" is "cappa," "-w" is "doppia vu," "-x" is "ics," "-y" is "ipsylon."
Laura: There are not so many words with those ones in Italian.
Marco: How do we pronounce them?
Laura: So, "i lunga" is sometimes like a normal Italian "-i" and sometimes like the English "-j." For example, "jacopo" or "jazz."
Marco: "Jacopo" and "jazz." Same "-j," different pronunciation.
Laura: The "kappa" is pronounced like the English "-k." No difference. Like the Italian "-c" of "casa" and "-q" of "quadro."
Marco: [kkkkkk]…crystal clear.
Laura: The "-w" or "doppia vu" is pronounced sometimes like a normal single "-v." Same as in the "-j" case. For example, "Walter," an Italian name of German origin, or "whiskey."
Marco: "Un dito di whiskey, per favore."
Laura: Not before we finish our alphabet.
Marco: We still have the "ics" and the "ipsilon."
Laura: Yes. So the "ics" sounds pretty much like the English "-x," [xxxxx]...for example, "xilofono."
Marco: Meaning a "xylophone." It was in my Italian book also.
Laura: That’'s because words starting with "-x" are very rare.
Marco: What about the "-y?"
Laura: That's an easy one. Same pronunciation as the Italian vowel "-i." [iiiiii].
Marco: Ah, I remember. "Yoga," "yogurt."

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ItalianPod101.com
Monday at 6:30 pm
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ItalianPod101.comVerified
Sunday at 8:51 pm
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Ciao Marilyn,


Thank you very much for your kind feedback! We're very glad you're enjoying our website!


Good luck with your Italian studies :)


We'll be here to help you should you have any questions.


Sincerely,

Cristiane

Team ItalianPod101.com

Marilyn Graulau
Sunday at 12:29 am
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I am loving my lessons and the fact that I can learn anyway I want. The scripts are charming and very motivating. The fact that I can learn a language anyway I want is best of all. I used to sign up for language classes or purchase DVDs and become very bored because it would always start with grammar lessons, drills and such. With these lessons and all the choices I have for using them, I can do immersion one day, a grammar or pronunciation lesson the next and with the history and culture classes, these are truly the thinking person's best way to learn a language at home or on the go, except for being in that country. Even then, you might not have the breadth of learning as much nor as quickly as you have here. I'm so glad I came across this site. You are helping me finally become the multilingual person (Italian and Greek) I've always dreamed I could be. ❤️️

ItalianPod101.comVerified
Tuesday at 1:15 pm
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Ciao Yorda,


I hope you'll like Valle Lomellina!

Please check this video series about the pronunciation https://www.italianpod101.com/index.php?cat=58

I think you'll find it really effective!


Grazie,

Ofelia

Team ItalianPod101.com

Yorda
Saturday at 12:44 pm
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I'm really trying to learn. I'm moving to valle lomellina,pavia italy

ItalianPod101
Tuesday at 9:01 pm
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Hello Sameera,

Thank you for being with us!

If you have any questions please let us know.


Happy New Year!

Elena

Team ItalianPod101

Sameera
Thursday at 3:10 pm
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Awesome website. I totally enjoy listening to the conversations. Makes me feel like I'm in Tuscany :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

ItalianPod101.comVerified
Tuesday at 1:16 pm
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Hi Angie,


Thank you for the feedback. We'll consider it when developing new tools and lessons for our website. For now we don't have it, but again, we appreciate the time you spent to share your thoughts.


Here we have another tip for you to master Italian alphabet:

https://www.italianpod101.com/italian-alphabet/


Kind regards,

Paloma

Team ItalianPod101

Angie
Friday at 11:09 pm
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Is it possible just to have to alphabet on a podcast? That way I can listen to it over and over.

ItalianPod101.com
Wednesday at 11:45 pm
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Hi Neil,


the correct way to pronounce letter 'V' is 'vee'. when you do the spelling or reading the alphabet 'vee' is the best pronounciation. However we can say TV both as 'teevee' or 'teevoo'.


Hope it helps.

Chiara

TeamItalianPod101.com

ItalianPod101.comVerified
Friday at 4:58 pm
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Hi Heather,


Thank you for the comment. We don't have the vocab list and the line by line audio session for the pronunciation series.


We're sorry for the inconvenience.


Jae / ItalianPod101.com