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Italian probably ties with Spanish as the foreign language that is easiest for Americans to pronounce recognizably.
Italian has long and short consonants. Basically, the long ones are written double and held longer when speaking. For a digraph like CH (pronounced K), only the first letter is doubled (CCH, still pronounced K). Don't worry about it.
Most consonants are similar to English. Here are a few to pay attention to:
|C before E or I||CH||Gucci|
|GN||NY (like Spanish Ñ)||Romagna (ro-MA-nya)|
|G before E or I||soft G||gelato (djeh-LA-to)|
|G elsewhere (including before H)||like K||Gucci (GU-chi)|
|S between vowels or before an unvoiced consonant||like English Z||rosa, museo (RO-zah, moo-ZAY-oh)|
|SC before I or E||like English SH||scienza (shee-EN-tsa = science)|
|Z||TS||pizza, piazza( (PEET-tsa, PYAT-sa)|
Italian's five written vowels are like ours, but their pronunciation is easier. There are differences between long and short vowels, but they are unlikely to bother you. In general, the following will work fine:
|Letter||Long Sound||Short Sound|
|A||A as in father||A as in father|
|E||A as in mate||E as in met|
|I||I as in machine||I as in mint|
|O||O as in glow||O as in glow|
|U||OO as in cool||OO as in cool|
When two vowels come together, they tend to glide into each other. Don't be surprised, and don't worry about it.
Stress follows rules in Italian, but they are rarely obvious from the spelling. Follow your instincts and you will be right lots of the time. If you hear somebody else do something different, go with that till you have reason to think it is wrong.
Now you know.
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