On the first day of Italian 1 this semester at Butte Community College, I asked my students why they were studying Italian because I'm always curious about their primary motivation before we begin. A few of them said they were of Italian heritage, and many of them reported that they would like to travel to Italy one day. Then one student commented, "Because it is such a beautiful language with its unique cadence." I wholeheartedly agreed with him and then began the first lesson on pronunciation.
Here is an abridged version of what I teach in my first day of Italian 1!
The letters j, k, w, x, y are not included in the Italian alphabet.
The letters e and o can both have a closed or open sound.
When the letter ‘h’ begins a word, it is silent. (The Italian word ‘ho’ is pronounced ‘oh’)......
In Ps, the p is not silent
The ‘ia’ combination has two different sounds. One is a blended sound like ‘ya’ and the other is individually enunciated ‘ee-ah’. Contrast the following words: spiaggia (blended) / farmacia (enunciated)......
The ‘io’ combination also has two different sounds. One is a blended ‘yo’ sound, and the other is individually enunciated ‘ee-oh’. Contrast the following words: gioco (blended) / radiologo (enunciated)......
Other vowel combinations:
Rest slightly longer on the consonant sound when they are doubled. Contrast the following pairs of words:
There are few written accents in Italian, and they will usually fall on the last vowel. The 2 types are called:
The unwritten Italian accent usually falls on the second to last syllable of a word. There are many exceptions that you will learn as you become more familiar with the language. This placement of the accent and the fact that most words end in a vowel are what gives the Italian language its rhythmic and melodic sound.