4 April 2007

Language Guides

Some words which I have problems pronouncing here, no matter how I try, plus coping strategies in case you have similar problems.

TRE
As in the number. Difficult because of the rolling “R” which I can do, but it takes some effort. Coping strategy: If you have to ask for 3 of something in a shop, buy 2 or 4 instead of 3. Hoping they’re not big, expensive or perishables. Trentatre is double difficulty. It’ll be hard when it’s my 33 birthday and I’m asked my age. Hopefully I'll have mastered it by then.

BIGLIETTI
The “gli” is the hard bit. It’s supposed to sound kind of like “glee”. Imagine the problems I have buying 3 bus tickets. The tabacchi’s face fills with confusion thinking “What’s this crazy lady trying to say?”.

BAR
It is an English word, but if I say it in an Italian sentence the person will understand every word except that one. Coping strategy: “Andiamo per un caffè” Instead of “Andiamo al bar”

HAMBURGER
Again that pesky “R”. Again, it may be an English word but you won’t be understood unless you really roll that “R”. Try: “amburrrrrgerrrrrrrrrr. Coping strategy: Choose something else off the menu.

VAGLIAGLI
Near impossible to pronounce. It’s a beautiful country place in Tuscany where I went on holiday once. You can say you went “near to Siena”. It doesn’t cause me problems on a daily basis, but imagine if I lived there! One good thing about Napoli: It’s easy to pronounce.

Summary:
Any words containing “R” in or “gli” are tricky. Double consonants are also a problem as in English you can’t tell the difference if there's one or two, but in Italian you can. Any English words used in Italian must have every letter clearly pronounced/exaggerated, and any “Rs": Roll 'em, roll 'em, roll 'em.

Hope this helps.

19 comments:

Annika said...

Valjialji. Not that hard.

This is something I am SO thankful for when learning Italian, because the Italian sounds aren't at all that different from our Swedish sounds. English is entirely different, and thus more difficult to learn how to pronounce correctly. Example: Tre is - well, it's THE SAME WORD in Swedish and Italian. Tre is tre. Our e is a little narrower and longer, but it's a minor difference. Three, or through, or true, or any other tr-/thr- word is what troubles me; not only are your t's different but your r's too.

Annika said...

forgot to say that I dig your coping strategies and have to admit that I have quite a few of those in English. There are some things that I know how to say but don't know how to write it correctly and then I just write something else instead.

KC said...

I knew someone else who had trouble rolling the 'r' after a 't' so you're certainly not alone there! I can't pronounce hamburger either, and avoid it at all costs. I don't have many problems with consonants- it's the vowels that give me trouble. What's the hardest word in the Italian language for me? L'aereo! No, wait, it's gli aerei!

Michellanea said...

Yep, the "r" gives me away every time. I can be percolating along in Italian and then I'll have to say something like "arrivo" and people understand right away that I'm foreign. Or pronouncing English words, such as trying to tell someone to meet you across from McDonald's (I refuse to say MACDAWNAWLD without the "s" on the end). Cristiano's grandma calls a hamburger a Svizzera. Is it better to sound foreign or speak like an old woman?

Nadine said...

I have trouble with English. I speak some French but not very well (my family speaks it and let's just say I get mocked).

Delina said...

Thanks for your comments. I am not alone. Yey!

A few years ago, me and a (Dutch) friend decided we wanted a McFlurry icecream from McDonald's.

Friend: "How will we ask for a McFlurry? They'll never understand us"
Me: "Leave it to me"
Me in McDonald's: "Vorrei un MAAAACCCCCAAAFLOOORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRREEE". It seemed to do the trick.

Ps. In case you're wondering that was the only time I've been in McDs in the last about 10yrs.

sognatrice said...

This is great. The "gli" thing used to scare me, but now I just say those parts really fast. I'm OK on the Rs, but the English words have been known to trip me up--I'm getting better at hamburger, but I still can't get "wurstel" because they refuse to say it like a German (which I could pull off) ;)

Great post!

Anonymous said...

It's the foreign words which get me too. I hate saying English words incorrectly with an Italian accent. Actually what really annoys me is when they leave the S off the end like "MacDonald" or "Master" (there is this poster up on my metro station adverting a "Master in Tourist Management" - everytime I see it it annoys me. Or they just shorten the entire English phrase. Like an Italian coworker told me that there was a good bar next to "Breeteesh". I was scratching my head for a long time over that one but it turns out she mean the "British Council".

Annika - I didn't think that you had rolled Rs in Swedish.


kataroma

Annika said...

Kataroma, yes we do except for in the very southernmost part where they speak more like Danes.

Cath said...

The one I can never get right is "ruota" - embarrassingly my 2 year old has absolutely no problem with it whereas I screw up my lips like Les Dawson and am still incomprehensible.

J.Doe said...

I say the R's and the Gli's beautifully in my head but my mouth seems to screw them up all the time.

Anonymous said...

Ruota is hard for me too! I also have this weird brain wiring problem which makes me mix up giacchio and giacco. :(

Annika - my dad is from Gotland so all the Swedish I've heard growing up was Gotlandsk so not at all your standard Swedish! :)

kataroma

Max said...

Kataroma... but, what is "giacchio"? Ghiaccio? Ice? :D

Delina said...

Kataroma, are you talking about giacca(jacket) and ice(ghiaccio)? – I had to use the dictionary to write that. :) If you are, I have that problem too, but mainly with writing. ie I’m likely to write “Devo comprare una nuova ghiaccia.” I know jacket has an ‘a’ on the end in Italian, but that’s about it!

More brain wiring problems: I call the piumone “divano”. ROTFL. Could it because it’s duvet in English? Are am I going mad?

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah - giacca. I can't spell in Italian or English!

kataroma

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I don't have the "R" problem, I can roll them but the "gli" is not easy.

So what is the proper way to say biglietto?

Bee-GLEE-etto? Isn't the "g" silent/soft and glides into "li"?

Kataroma said...

I would say "be-glye-to" - but it could be a Rome accent thing - not sure. When I say "un be-glye-to" I get 1 ticket anyway so it must be close to correct. :)

The main thing is to do a very soft gl - dont pronounce the g and l separately. It's the same sound as in tagliatelle (taglyia- telle)

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

grazie.

BecsLifeOnline said...

Ha ha ha. I love your coping strategies of picking something else of the menu, or choosing a different word to describe what you mean. Genius!!