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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone.
Welcome to The Ultimate Italian Pronunciation Guide.
In this lesson, we'll cover the pronunciation of the letter S, diphthongs, and the hiatus.
First, let's take a look at the different ways that the letter S can be pronounced.
Like English, the letter S in Italian has many different ways of being pronounced. The most common -- ssssss, is the same as the S sound in the words "sale" or "snake".
Listen to a few examples.
"serpente (snake)
polso (wrist)
sconto (discount)"
"But sometimes the letter S may sound like a Z sound. If you think about it, it's the same for English, like in the words ""wise"" or ""cruise"".
The letter S takes on a Z sound when it precedes any of the following voiced consonants."
Listen to a few examples.
"sbaglio (mistake)
sdraiarsi (to lie down)
sgridare (to scold)
slittare (to slip)
smemorato (forgetful)
snello (slim)
sradicare (to uproot)
svogliato (lazy)"
S can also take on a Z sound when it appears between vowels.
"casa (house)
cortese (courteous, kind)
fisica (physics)"
"Finally, whenever you have a double S, you need to say it with more emphasis. Pronounce it for longer than you typically would in English.
Listen to the examples."
"cassa (cash register)
rosso (red)
abisso (abyss, gulf)"
Okay, let's move on.
A diphthong, refers to two vowel sounds that are pronounced within the same syllable. You can kind of think of it like gliding from one vowel to the next very quickly.
"English has diphthongs as well.
Take the word 'loin' for example.
It's not pronounced 'lo-in', but 'loin'.
Or the word 'foul'. It's not 'fo-ul', but 'foul'.
Notice the difference?"
Okay, now let's have a look at some of the most common diphthongs in Italian.
When I precedes another vowel, it takes on a y sound.
"chiaro (light, clear)
pieno (full)
chiodo (nail)
piuma (feather)"
When U precedes another vowel, it takes on a w sound.
"quando (when)
quello (that)
linguine (flat pasta)
luogo (place)"
When a vowel is followed by an I, the sound glides and kind of merges.
"zaino (backpack)
caleidoscopio (kaleidoscope)
asteroide (asteroid)
anguilla (eel)"
Same if an A or an E is followed by a U.
"automobile (automobile)
laurea (degree)
aereo (plane)
saetta (thunderbolt) "
Okay. I think you got the hang of it. Let's move on.
"A hiatus is a pause between two vowel sounds, causing them to be pronounced in separate syllables.
It's essentially the *opposite* of a diphthong."
Words like "co-operate" or "re-elect" are examples of a hiatus in English -- in which case, it is marked by a hypen.
Let's have a look at some examples in Italian.
"boemo (Bohemian)
creare (to create)
eroe (hero)
iato (hiatus)"
The last example is special because the hiatus rarely involves the letter i, or the letter u. Unfortunately for most of these words, you'll just have to learn and memorize them. They're either exceptions or ones that don't fall into any of the diphthong rules from before.
In this lesson, we covered the different pronunciations of the letter S, diphthongs and the hiatus.
In the next lesson, you'll learn about Italian accents.
Does your language have similiar diphthongs and hiatus rules? Let us know in the comments.
See you in the next Ultimate Italian Pronunciation Guide lesson!