PRONOUNCING ITALIAN VOWELS

Italian vowels (i vocali) are short, always pronounced very clearly, and are never drawn out. The "glide" with which English vowels frequently end should be avoided. It should be noted that a, i, u, are always pronounced the same way; e and o, on the other hand, have an open and a closed sound that may vary from one part of Italy to the other.

Also, when vowels are grouped together in a word, they are always pronounced separately.

The approximate English equivalents are as follows:

  • a-A: This letter denotes a single sound, whose pronunciation is always similar to an English a in cat, fact, black; an "o" in how, cloud, house, mouse. Also, It sounds like the word a in the English word ah! Examples:
    • Casa   house.
    • Amore   love.
    • Fama   fame.
    • Pasta   pasta, dough, pastry.
  • e-E: This vowel has two pronunciations:

As an English a in hay, layer, may (this is popularly called a narrow "e" or closed "e")

    • Bere     to drink.
    • e     and.
    • Fede    faith.
    • Me    me.

As an English "e" in send, met, tent, hen (this one is popularly called a wide "e" or open "e").

    • Bene    well.
    • Vento    wind.
    •     is.
    • Festa    party; holiday.
  • i-I: This  vowel always sounds as an English y in yellow, troyan. A similar sound is that of English ee in fleet, seem, but the length of the Italian sound is shorter. Examples:
    • Invidiare    to envy.
    • Bimbo    child.
    • Libro    book.
    • Vino    wine.
  • o-O: This vowel has two pronunciations:

Always as an English "o", in some cases with a "narrow" or "closed" sound as in blow, soul, row. Examples:

    • Dono     gift.
    • Mondo    world.
    • Nome    name.
    • o    or.

Sometimes with a "wide" or "open" sound as in cloth, spot, dog. Examples:

    • Moda    fashion.
    • No    no.
    • Brodo    broth.
    • Olio    oil.
  • u-U: This vowels sound is similar to an English "u" in rule or "w" in win, rowing. But u is a vowel, while w is a consonant. Examples:
    • Fungo    mushroom.
    • Luna    moon.
    • Lungo    long.
    • Uno    one.

Diphthongs Triphthongs & Word Elision:
In italian a diphthong is formed by any vowel preceded or followed by an unstressed closed vowel ('i' or 'u'):ia, ie, io, ai, ei, oi, ua, ue, uo, au, eu, ou, iu, ui. They are always pronounced maintaining the sounds of the individual vowels, and the closed vowel plays the role of a semivowel or a glide.




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