Learn Italian sounds – the alphabet

Italian is one of the most musical languages in the world. But what are exactly the sounds of this language?

Let’s summarize the main ones in the tables below:

 

ALPHABET EXAMPLES PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION SIMILAR SOUNDS IN ENGLISH
A Animale (animal)  [ani’male] Cup
B Bagaglio (luggage)  [ba’gaʎo] Bike
C [1] Cane (dog) [‘kane] Cold
D Domenica (Sunday) [do’menika] Darling
E Estintore (fire-extinguisher) [estin’tore] Elephant
F Folata (gust) [fo’lata] Flower
G [2] Gatto (general) [‘gat:o] Game
H [3] Hotel (hotel) [o’tɛl] ///
I Insieme (together) [in’sjɛme] Instructions
L Ladro (thief) [‘ladro] Long
M Malattia (illness) [mala’t:ia] Mountains
N Negozio (shop) [ne’gɔtsjo] Nation
O Ossa (bones) [‘ɔs:a] Octagon
P Pollo (chicken) [‘pol:o] Problem
Q Quadro (painting) [‘kwadro] Quotient
R Reparto (department) [re’parto] Rest
S Soluzione (solution) [sɔlu’tsjone] Summer
T Tovagliolo (napkin) [tova’ʎɔlo] Tree
U Università (university) [universi’ta] Book
V Vicinanza (closeness) [vitʃi’nanʦa] Violet
Z Zona (area) [‘ʣona] ///

 

OTHER SOUNDS

EXAMPLES PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION SIMILAR SOUNDS IN ENGLISH
C when followed by e or i Cena (dinner) [‘tʃena] Chain
G when followed by e or i Gita (trip) [‘dʒita] Jam
GL when followed by i Gli (the) [‘fiʎ]  /// 
GLI when followed by a, e, o or u Moglie (wife) [‘moʎe]
GN Sogno (dream) [‘soɲo] ///
SC when followed by e or i Scena (scene) [‘ʃɛna]  Shoe
SCI when followed by a, o or u Prosciutto (ham) [pro’ʃut:o]

 

[1] When it is followed by H, the sound is the same;

[2] When it is followed by H, the sound is the same;

[3] Letter H in Italian is always silent;

 

EXERCISE

One of the best ways to learn and improve Italian is practising. So, now that you’ve learnt the main Italian sounds, try to read the following words:

FioreBagnoMerendaSediaZetaTavoloGenteAnticoViolaFiglioGiardinoQuestoLasagneCimiteroSciarpaPesceUscita.

2 Comments:

  1. I find it quite difficult to pronounce vowels like a native… they’re so open and clear. For me it all seems like opera singing! =)

    • Hi Peter, it’s normal. It takes some time but with some practice you’ll see you’ll manage to get that sounds right. Just dont give up! 🙂

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