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Lesson Transcript

Laura: "Buongiorno a tutti!" "Hello, everyone!"
Marco: Marco here! Italian Pronunciation Series Lesson 2 - Italian Vowels
Marco: Hello, and welcome to the Pronunciation Series at ItalianPod101.com, where we study modern Italian in a fun, educational format!
Laura: So, brush up on the Italian that you started learning long ago, or start learning today.
Marco: Thanks for being here with us for this lesson. Today, our focus will be the pronunciation of Italian vowels.
Laura: "-a," "-e," "-i," "-o," and "-u."
Marco: Sounds very Italian.
Laura: The sound of style.
Marco: Absolutely.
Laura: Now, some vowels are difficult to pronounce.
Marco: Okay, let's have all of you guys out there master your Italian vowels.
Laura: We will help you pronounce sounds properly in Italian.
Marco: Yes, because a single vowel can modify the meaning of a word.
Laura: For example, “"pasta”" and “"pesto.”"
Marco: I hope you guys heard the difference.
Laura: One word has the vowel "-a" and the other the sound "-e."
Marco: Now the first word means...well, "pasta," and the second refers to a "pasta sauce."
Laura: Completely different words. Even if they get on very well together!
Marco: Oh yes. Like the yummy "pasta al pesto" I cooked the other day.
Marco: Now, today we will not work on ALL the sounds in Italian. Only vowels. Tricky and less tricky ones.
Laura: Oh, by the way! In this lesson, we are going to refer to sounds as vowels. So whenever we say "vowel," think "sound," don't think "letter."
Marco: Now let's go.
Laura: “"Andiamo!”" First of all, pronouncing Italian is only hard if you refuse to open your mouth.
Marco: Yes, this is something you might want to keep in mind.
Laura: It really makes it easier for you if you make your mouth work.
Marco: Don't hesitate to open your mouth.
Laura: Like this…[AAAAAAAAAAAAAA].
Marco: Now you might be in the line at the bakery or driving your convertible right now. But we don't care. Repeat after Laura…
Laura: [AAAAAA], [EEEEEEE] (open), [EEEEEEE] (closed), [IIIIIIII], [OOOOOO] (open), [OOOOO] (closed), [UUUUUU]. These should be easy to pronounce. And now that your mouth is stretched...
Marco: By the way, how many vowels are there in Italian?
Laura: Seven. Now, most of them are easily accessible to pretty much everyone.
Marco: Today, we will look at each of them separately.
Laura: Yes.
Marco: Are there a lot of similarities between English and Italian vowels?
Laura: Well, in English, there's no difference between open and closed vowels. In Italian [EEEE] (open) is open and [EEEE] (closed) is closed, for example. Can you tell the difference?
Marco: The last one sounds like a combination of "-a" and "-o" to me.
Laura: For example, the “"-e”" in “"pesto”" is closed, and in “"presto,”" meaning
"quick," it is “"open.”" “"Testa,”" as in "head," and “"rete,”" as in "net."
Marco: I could detect a slight difference, in fact.
Laura: [OOOOO] (open). Was that closed or open, can you tell?
Marco: Open?
Laura: Right. As in "porta," meaning "door." How about this…"solo," meaning "lonely."
Marco: Closed?
Laura: Yep. Can you tell the difference, or are you just guessing?
Marco: It's difficult to hear the difference at first when you are not familiar with the language yet, but it will be easier and easier as it goes.
Laura: Any tips to master those sounds, since you've studied them at some point, Marco?
Marco: Yes. A little mouth gymnastics will do it.
Laura: Okay, get ready out there!
Marco: First, keep your mouth open and say [EEEEEEE] (open) with your lips stretched just as if you were smiling.
Laura: Now your tongue should be close to your palate, and say [EEEEE] (closed).
Marco: [EEEEEEE] (closed).
Laura: Now try the same with the "-o." First, your mouth should be shaped like a circle. Keep your tongue near the bottom of your mouth, and go!
Marco: [OOOOOOOOO] (open).
Laura: Excellent! Isn't that fun? How do you make the closed "-o?"
Marco: Just make the mouth circle smaller, and go [OOOOO] (closed). Now let's try out some words.
Laura: Okay, everyone, I'm going to say a series of words, and I will leave a silence between each word.
Marco: Now your job is to repeat each word after Laura.
Laura: Ready? Go! “"Testa”" (silence)
Marco: Which is "head."
Laura: “"Sera”" (silence)
Marco: which is "evening."
Laura: “"Nove”" (silence)
Marco: Which is "nine."
Laura: And “"ponte”" (silence)
Marco: Which is "bridge." Okay. Now shall we try the easy ones? "-a," "-i," "-u."
Laura: Mouth open, everyone, for the "-a." And, with me, [AAAAAAAAA].
Marco: [AAAAA]...
Laura: Now repeat again after me. “"Pasta”" (silence).
Marco: “"Pasta.”" One of the most popular Italian words abroad.
Laura: Absolutely. Let's move on to the "-i." [IIII]...
Marco: [IIII]…
Laura: Here's another rather popular word with this vowel. Repeat after me…“"Italia”" (silence)
Marco: “"Italia.”" Two "-i" and two "-a" in this word.
Laura: Well spotted! Now let's see our last vowel for today. [UUU].
Marco: [UUUU].
Laura: Okay. Again, you all, repeat after me, I'll leave a silence after each word. Let's go. “"Lupo”" (silence)
Marco: Which is "wolf." Which also goes...[UUUUUUU]...
Laura: That was a really good impression of a wolf. Sounded quite Italian.
Marco: That was in fact a “"ululato.”"
Laura: “"Ululato”" is a "howl." Well done, Marco. This vowel-packed word is certainly not for beginners.
Marco: Now, what happens if there are one or more vowels in a row? How do we pronounce those?
Laura: Don't worry about those yet. We'll have a closer look at diphthongs in one of the next lessons. But here's one you can start to practice your vowels with…“"buona notte.”"
Marco: That means "good night." Sounds good to me. We'll have enough to practice for today anyway.
Laura: Yes, by the end of this lesson, you will have in your bank seven vowels to practice.
Marco: Okay, but to wrap up with our vowels of the day, we will just recap all the sounds we saw today. Laura?
Laura: Okay. Here you go..."-a," "-e" (open), "-e" (closed), "-i," "-o" (open), "-o" (closed), and "-u"...
Marco: "-a."
Laura: As in “"bara,”" meaning "coffin."
Marco: You're getting scary.
Laura: You started with the wolf thing. Now, open "-e." “"Bello.”"
Marco: Meaning "beautiful." Now it's getting less scary.
Laura: Closed "-e." “"Strega.”"
Marco: "Witch?" What's with the creature thing today?
Laura: Must be all the horror movies I watched last night while you were probably eating your "pasta al pesto."
Marco: Oh no...
Laura: Open "-o." “"Gobbo.”"
Marco: A "hunchback?" Was that in your horror movie?
Laura: It's actually good luck if you touch a hunchback's back in Italy. “"La gobba del gobbo.”" Both open.
Marco: It may be a bit rude to ask if you met one in the street...
Laura: Oh, dDefinitely. Now, closed "-o." “"Pozzo.”"
Marco: Meaning a "water well" There we go again.
Laura: "-u." “"Puzza.”"
Marco: "Stench?" We started nicely with "pasta al pesto" and look where we are now.
Laura: I thought you loved horror movies. Especially the Italian ones.
Marco: Oh, I love Dario Argento. I get scared and go [AAAAA]...[IIIII]...[OOOO] all the time.
Laura: Here's a good tip…watch a good old spaghetti horror movie and practice your vowels out loud.
Marco: That just about does it for today.


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Monday at 6:30 pm
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Thursday at 6:59 pm
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Hi Deborah,

Thank you for posting!

We are glad to hear that you are learning Italian here with us.

This series (Pronunciation) does not include transcript and lesson materials.

Every series has different resources, here for example:


In the Absolute Beginner Series you can find the Lesson Notes, Transcript and Vocabulary Sections (Note that the Lesson Notes and the Transcript, comes on a different file).

Please, let us know if you have questions.



Team ItalianPod101.com

Tuesday at 10:59 pm
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Where can I find the transcript and vocabulary list for this lesson? The Premium Lesson Checklist suggests reviewing the Lesson Notes, which are supposed to contain the transcript, a vocabulary list and grammar points. The checklist also mentions the ability to add vocabulary words to the word bank. So I downloaded the Lesson Notes, but it only contains the grammar points. There is no transcript and no vocabulary list.

There were a couple words I heard in the audio, such as ululato, that I would like to add to the Word Bank, but I don't want to have to listen through the whole audio to find all the words I want to remember, and plus I'm not entirely sure how to spell them.


Monday at 4:22 pm
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Hi NiAlBlack,

Thank you for posting!

Italian seems definitely easier than German! :grin:



Team ItalianPod101.com

Monday at 9:19 am
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This is so much easier if you can speak German. All Italian vowels are also available in German. But in total, German has a lot more vowels (15).

Wednesday at 6:17 pm
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Hi Gaye,

Thank you for your comment.

Please, let us know if you have any question and don't forget to practice your Italian vowels!

Kind regards,


Team ItalianPod101.com

Tuesday at 11:57 pm
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the audio lesson stops at 10:09