Italian phonology

Italian phonology

:"For assistance in making phonetic transcriptions of Italian for Wikipedia articles, see ."This article is about the phonology of the Italian language. It deals with the phonology and phonetics of Standard Italian as well as with geographical variants.


*In Italian there is no phonemic distinction between long and short vowels. However, vowels in stressed open syllables are long (except when word-final).
*The pairs IPA|/e/~IPA|/ɛ/ and IPA|/o/~IPA|/ɔ/ only contrast in stressed syllables. In unstressed syllables only IPA|/e/ and IPA|/o/ are found.
*Unstressed IPA|/u/ as the last phoneme of a word is rare. Major exceptions are onomatopoeic terms ("babau" [ [] ] ); loanwords ("guru" [ [] ] ); and place or family names of Sardinian origin ("Gennargentu", [ [] ] "Porcu" [ [] ] ). Words in the last category are not strictly Italian words.
*When the last phoneme of a word is an unstressed vowel and the first phoneme of the following word is any vowel, the former vowel tends to become non-syllabic. This phenomenon is called synalepha and should be taken in account when counting syllables e.g. in poetry.


*Between two vowels, or between a vowel and an approximant (IPA|/l/, IPA|/r/, IPA|/j/ or IPA|/w/), consonants can be both single or geminated. Geminated consonants belong to different syllables (this shortens the preceding vowel) and the first geminated element is unreleased. For example, IPA|/fato/ [ˈfaː.t̪o] ~ /fatto/ [ˈfat̪̚.t̪o] . However, IPA|/ɲɲ/, IPA|/ʃʃ/, IPA|/ʎʎ/, are always geminated, except when they are at the beginning of the word and when they follow a consonant.
* is the only consonant that cannot be geminated.
*The trill IPA|/r/ is sometimes simplified to a flap IPA| [ɾ] when single.
*Nasals assimilate to the point of articulation of whatever consonant they precede. For example, IPA|/ng/ is realized as IPA| [ŋg] .
*IPA|/s/ assimilates to the voicing of a consonant it precedes.

Non-standard variants

The above IPA symbols and description refer to standard Italian, based on a somewhat idealized version of the Tuscan-derived national language. As is common in many cultures, this single version of the language was pushed as neutral, proper, and eventually superior, leading to some stigmatization of varying accents. Television news anchors and other high-profile figures had to put aside their regional Italian when in the public sphere. However, in more recent years the enforcement of this standard has fallen out of favor in Italy, and news reporters, actors, and the like are now more free to deliver their words in their native regional variety of Italian, which appeals to the Italian population's range of linguistic diversity. Though it is still technically the standard, the loosened restrictions have led to Tuscan being seen for what it is, just one dialect among many with its own regional peculiarities and qualities, many of which are shared with Umbria, Southern Marche and Northern Lazio:

*In genuine Tuscan, whether indigenous local dialect or regional Italian, single IPA|/p/, /t/, /k/ between two vowels (even across word boundaries) are pronounced as IPA| [ɸ] , IPA| [θ] , IPA| [h] respectively. Example: "la casa" IPA|/la ˈkaːsa/ [la ˈhaːsa] . In a much more widespread area of Central and Southern Italy, post-vocalic IPA|/tʃ/, IPA|/dʒ/ are realized as IPA| [ʃ] and IPA| [ʒ] : IPA| [in tʃiːna] "in Cina" but IPA| [laʃiːna] "la Cina". Since IPA|/ʃ/ surfaces as long post-vocalically, this can produce minimal pairs distinguished only by length of the word-initial consonant: IPA| [laʃenaːta] "la cenata" vs. IPA| [laʃʃenaːta] "la scenata".
*In supposedly nonstandard varieties of Central and Southern Italian, some stops at the end of a syllable completely assimilate to the following consonant.
*Examples: a Venetian might say "tecnica" as IPA| [ˈtɛknika] in violation of normal Italian consonant contact restrictions, while a Florentine would likely pronounce "tecnica" as IPA| [ˈtɛnniha] , a Roman on a range from IPA| [ˈtɛnnika] to IPA| [ˈtɛnniga] . Similarly, although the cluster /kt/ has developed historically as /tt/ through assimilation, a learned word such as "ictus" will be pronounced [ittus] by some, [iktus] by others.

/s/ ~ /z/

These phonemes are in complementary distribution everywhere except between two vowels within the same word, and even in this environment the minimal pairs are very rare (there are fewer than a dozen). Even in standard Italian, there are many words in which now dictionaries indicate that both pronunciations are possible.Thus they have merged in many varieties of Italian: when between two vowels within the same word, it tends to always be pronounced IPA| [z] in Northern Italy, and IPA| [s] in Central and Southern Italy.A notable example is the word "casa" ("house" or "home"): in Northern-Central Italy it is pronounced IPA| [ˈkaza] ; in Southern-Central Italy it's pronounced IPA| [ˈkaːsa] .

Gemination of IPA|/b/ and IPA|/dʒ/

In popular Central and Southern Italian speech, IPA|/b/ and IPA|/dʒ/ tend to always be geminated (IPA| [bb] and IPA| [ddʒ] ) when between two vowels, or a vowel and a sonorant (IPA|/j/, IPA|/w/, IPA|/l/, or IPA|/r/). Sometimes this is also used in written language (e.g. writing "robba" instead of "roba" ("stuff" or "property") to suggest a regional accent.

ample texts

From the Bible, Luke 2, 1-7(for an English version click [ here] )

You can to a rendition of this text as recorded by an Italian native speaker from Milan. One should notice that this speaker sometimes does not respect the standard pronunciation of the letter "e" (as represented in the phonetic translation), and he is at points unable to articulate correctly the rolling R.

2:1 In quei giorni, un decreto di Cesare Augusto ordinava che si facesse un censimento di tutta la terra.
2 Questo primo censimento fu fatto quando Quirino era governatore della Siria.
3 Tutti andavano a farsi registrare, ciascuno nella propria città.
4 Anche Giuseppe, che era della casa e della famiglia di Davide, dalla città di Nazaret e dalla Galilea si recò in Giudea nella città di Davide, chiamata Betlemme,
5 per farsi registrare insieme a Maria, sua sposa, che era incinta.
6 Proprio mentre si trovavano lì, venne il tempo per lei di partorire.
7 Mise al mondo il suo primogenito, lo avvolse in fasce e lo depose in una mangiatoia, poiché non c'era posto per loro nella locanda.

2:1IPA| [iŋ kwej ˈdʒoːrni un deˈkreːto di ˈtʃeːzare auˈɡuːsto ordɪˈnaːva ke sɪ faˈtʃɛsse un tʃensɪˈmento di ˈtutta la ˈtɛrra.
2IPA|ˈkwesto ˈpriːmo tʃensiˈmento fu fˈfatto ˈkwando kwiˈriːno ˈɛːra ɡovernaˈtoːre ˈdella ˈsiːrja.
3IPA|ˈtutti anˈdaːvano a fˈfarsi redʒisˈtraːre, tʃasˈkuːno ˈnella ˈprɔːprja tʃitˈta.
4IPA|ˈanke dʒuˈzɛppe, ke ˈɛːra ˈdella ˈkaːza e dˈdella faˈmiʎʎja di ˈdaːvɪde, ˈdalla tʃɪtˈta ddɪ ˈnaddzarɛt e dˈdalla galiˈlɛːa si reˈkɔ in dʒuˈdɛːa ˈnella tʃitˈta ddi ˈdaːvide, kjaˈmaːta beˈtlɛmme,
5IPA|per ˈfarsɪ redʒɪsˈtraːre inˈsjɛːme a mmaˈriːa, ˈsuːa ˈspɔːza, ke ˈɛːra inˈtʃɪnta.
6IPA|ˈprɔːprjo ˈmentre si troˈvaːvano li, ˈvenne il ˈtɛmpo per lɛi di partoˈriːre.



last = Rogers
first= Derek
last2 = d'Arcangeli
first2 = Luciana
year= 2004
journal=Journal of the International Phonetic Association

ee also

* Italian alphabet
* Italian language
* Italian grammar
* Syntactic doubling

External links

* [ The online edition (2007) of the "Dizionario d'ortografia e di pronunzia" ("DOP"), a pronouncing dictionary of standard Italian]

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