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Pronunciation Tips for Beginners

For English speakers, Italian can be difficult to pronounce, especially when reading. Watching, listening, and doing the exercises Yabla provides can all help reinforce correct pronunciation, but let’s zoom in on one of the basic sounds.

We’re not looking for the nuances here, of which there are plenty, but just the very bare bones.

In Italian, the vowels, in particular, sound so different from what they look like to an English speaker, so let’s start there.

Let’s have a look at pronouncing the letter "A."

To hear the Italian “A” click on the audio icon here, and you can hear the correct pronunciation and repeat it. Maybe you can find a word in English that you pronounce with this sound. Some people find the noun "father" helpful for this sound, and others won't. The Italian "A" sound has no diphthong in it, and never sounds like a long "A," as in April.

Let’s take the word naso (nose). If you pronounce the "A" as you do in "ah!," you will come pretty close!

Quindi ho bisogno di soffiare il naso tantissime volte.
So I have to blow my nose lots of times.
Caption 13, Marika spiega: Il raffreddore 

What are some other words with this sound?

How about pasta?

 

La pasta alla Norma è una pasta semplicissima da cucinare.
Pasta alla Norma is a very simple pasta dish to make.
Caption 5, Anna e Marika:  L'Italia a tavola - Pasta alla Norma - Part 1 of 2

 

In fact, if we look carefully,  there are plenty of words containing the letter "A" in this one sentence. Listen to the video, and you will hear that they are all pronounced the same way. Listen to how Marika and Anna pronounce each others’ names. It’s the same kind of "A."

Try pronouncing the title. Italia a tavola (Italy at the Table).

In this week’s segment of La Ladra (try pronouncing the title), there’s a word that’s very similar to its English counterpart, but the "A’s" sound a bit different.

Assassino!
Murderer (Assassin)!
Caption 9, La Ladra: Ep. 3 - L'oro dello squalo - Part 13 of 13 

For more on the alphabet, see Marika's videos about the alphabet and about pronunciation.

Let us know if this was helpful, and we’ll talk about another vowel, soon. 

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