Italian uses the Latin alphabet. In the native words are used only 21 letters and they are considered to form the Italian alphabet properly. There are five vowels, none of which is mute: a, e, i, o, u
; fifteen consonants: b, c, d, f, g, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, z
; and one diacritical letter: h. The latter does not correspond to any sound and is used only to mark half a dozen words in order to distinguish them from similar ones that sound the same but have a different meaning, to mark some interjections, and to mark the velar pronunciation of 'c' and 'g' when otherwise they would be palatalized.
Except for a dozen articles, prepositions and adverbs (that nevertheless are used quite often), all common words in italian end with a vowel; of course this statement does not apply to trade marks, unassimilated foreign words, technical terms, and the like.
Besides the above mentioned letters; the letters J, K, X, Y,
are used only in technical terms and symbols, foreign names, and some very specialized words, such as the international word taxi. J, K and Y survive in toponyms, family names, and english style nicknames, such as Stefy for Stefania (Stephanie). The letter J used to be employed in the past as a graphic device to distinguish the semivowel role of the letter I, so that you have Ajmone (family name) and you may write Iugoslavia (modern spelling), Jugoslavia (old fashioned spelling), or Yugoslavia (international spelling) according to your preference; in italian all three are correct and are pronounced exactly the same way.
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