8 Easy Steps to an Italian AccentOn November 29, 2016 by abah guru
1. First things first, get the R-sound down. The Italians have the same R as the Spanish, a rolling R. It’s not guttoral like the French and German but a rolling sound made by placing the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth and then letting the air force its way between the tongue and the roof of your mouth.
2. Italians usually stress the second-to-last syllable of a word in their own language, perhaps because nearly all words end with a vowel. Think some of the Italian words we use in English, for example: Spaghetti, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Tagliatelle, Ravioli, Linguine, Lasagna, Calzone (I’m sure you can think of many more). What do they all have in common? They all end in a vowel, and they all stress the second to last syllable. And in Italian, there are very few exceptions to this, and so they carry it over into their English. So instead of saying “accupuncture” they might say “accupuncture”. Instead of saying “psychology” “psychology”. Get it?
3. Since, as previously mentioned, the vast majority of Italian words end in vowels, Italians who speak English seem reluctant to so suddenly end a word with a consonant, especially if that word ends with a vowel in their own language. So they simply add a vowel for comfort, and a lot of the time it will be the same vowel E (not pronounced like EE, but Eh or Uh). For example, in the English words “because” and “have” the last E is silent, i.e. you might spell them without the E’s and they’d sound the same. This is unnatural to Italians who would pronounce those words “becaus-eh” and “hav-eh”. Watch this clip of Roberto Benigni to see how real Italians speak English.
4. Make the double consonants extra long. Have you ever eaten a kind of pasta called Penne? Maybe you pronounce it like this: “Penneh” or worse “Pennay”. Forget about doing that and pronounce it “pen-neh”, like the Italians do. The Italians also do this for English words that have double consonants: “Bitter” becomes “bit-ter”, “accordance” becomes “ac-cordance” etc.
5. Like the Spanish-speakers, Italians are unable to pronounce the English “th”-sound. Now, there are two TH-sounds in English: The TH in “there” or “though” is soft, while the TH in “with” or “think” is more sharp. Make sure you understand this difference in English. The soft TH is pronounced like a D (“I don’t want to do dat dough”). The sharp TH is simplified to more or less just a T ( I tink dis is a torough explanation).
6. Remember that E’s in Italian are pronounced like the E in “sell” or “ethics”, not like the E in “English” or “Eden”.
7. U is difficult because there are several ways to pronounce it in English. Because of that, Italians learn to emulate the sound of a word, not how to pronounce particular letters (since they vary anyway). U’s that almost sound like A’s in English, such as in “uncle” become AH sounds in Italian – “Ahncle”. U’s that sound like “yew” in English become “yoo” in Italian.Let’s look at an example: “I understand that Ukraine is an underdeveloped country”. Think about it. Doesn’t the U in “understand” sound different from the U in “Ukraine”? In Italian, the sentence would sound like this: “I ahnderstand dat Yookraine is an ahnderdeveloped cahntry”.
8. Also remember that Italians use a lot more non-verbal communication through gestures than others. Hold your hands out, palms facing up and shrug your shoulders like you’re saying “What?”.