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Accents Make the Difference

In a recent video, Marika talks about accents. But attenzione! She is talking about pronouncing the grave and acute accents, not about writing them (except when necessary for clarity). Sometimes the accents are actually written in a word, and have become part and parcel of it, like in è (is), sarò (I will be), farà (he/she will do), or (yes), but much of the time we just have to learn and remember whether a vowel is open or closed.


Marika explains about the difference between the word for “peach” and “fishing.” To the naked eye, “peach” and “fishing” look exactly the same: pesca. For learning purposes, in the context of the lesson, you will see the accents in the words, but in real life, it’s the context that tells you which one it is, and you are the one who has to know which one gets an open “e” and which gets a closed “e.” Aside from cases in which their absence would be cause for confusion, the accents mentioned by Marika in pesca or botte are absent in written Italian.
In speaking, If you’re not sure about whether a vowel is open or closed, say the word anyway, and don’t worry too much about it. Not all Italians respect the rules, and if the context is clear, you will be understood. It’s not the end of the world. 


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