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For Italian pronunciation, remember you pronounce everything as you see it. Italian is a musical language, so you should try to run all the words in a sentence together musically. For example, “Grazie e arrivederci” would be pronounced “grat dz ye e ar ree ved eer chee.” Grazie means thank you, and arrivederci means goodbye (literally: "until we see each other again"; all the words run together to make the one word!).
Double consonants require spending an extra moment pronouncing the letters. For example, “notte” is pronounced “not...te”, as in “not te(n)”. Note that letters in brackets are not to be pronounced; they just form an English word that will gives the nearest sound to the Italian. For “notte”, hold the 't' for a second, don't actually repeat it. It may seem unimportant, but in Italian the single or double consonant may make a difference in meaning between two words! For example, notte = night (singular) and note = notes (plural).
The letters 'c' and 'g' in Italian are hard sounding, as in "cat" and "gap," except when followed by an 'i' or an 'e'. When followed by an 'i' or an 'e' the 'c' and the 'g' will be soft, as in "ciao" and "Cinzano", or "gelato" (ice-cream) or "gin" (same as in English). The 'c' followed by an ‘i’ or ‘e’ creates a softer more palatal sound, as in the English 'ch' (chin). So “cena” would be pronounced “chayna” and “cinque” pronounced “cheenqwe.” When 'c' and 'g' are followed by 'i' or 'e' and the word requires these letters to be 'hard', as in an English “kill” or “gift,” then Italian inserts an 'h' between the 'c' and the following 'i' or 'e', and similarly, between the 'g' and the following 'i' or 'e'. For example, the words “ghetto” (same meaning as in English and similar hard g sound) and “ghiro” (dormouse), or “chi” (“who”, but only in questions) and “che” (“what/that” - among other meanings) use the ‘h’ to create a hard sound. Just look on the 'h' as being a blocker because there are no Italian words in the dictionary beginning with 'h'; all words beginning with 'h' in the dictionary are of foreign origin, this is its only use in Italian.
Double 'c' is pronounced as a 'k' except when followed by 'i' or 'e'. Also you must make the double consonant obvious by holding the sound for a second. Thus “pacco” (a parcel, or package) is pronounced “pak ko(ff),” remembering that the letters in brackets are not pronounced, and holding the 'k' sound for a second longer than if there were only one 'c'. “Gucci” would be pronounced “Gooch chee,” but flowing into one word.
If followed by ‘e’ or ‘i’, the double ‘cc’ is pronounced as English ‘ch’ except when followed by an ‘h’, for example in the word “pistacchio,” in which case it becomes hard like the English ‘k,’ “pee-sta(r)k ke(y) o(ff).”
“Ghiaccio” (ice), pronounced “ghee yat cho(p),” combines both the hard sound of the ‘gh’ with the soft ‘cc’ followed by an ‘i’.
Practicing these pronunciations will help a new learner understand the rhythm of the language, and repetition without leaving gaps between syllables will help to create one smooth, musical language. Another excellent tool for practice is to try singing along with a few Italian songs.
** Note: The original information for this thread came from the following forum thread: http://rome-hotels.tripadvisor.com/Sh...