Italian Phonetics Part 4: Accents and Stresses

Italian Phonetics Part 4: Accents and Stresses


It’s Professor Dave, let’s learn how to
accent Italian words. When learning a foreign language, common challenges
include learning which syllables in a word to emphasize, or stress, as well as deciphering
the meaning of certain accent marks. Italian doesn’t use regular acute and grave
accents like French does, but accent marks are sometimes placed on the last syllable
in a word to instruct emphasis on that syllable. The sound of the syllable doesn’t change,
the accent simply shows where the word receives the stress. We can see this in words like caffe` and citta`. These words are called tronche, or ossitone. The past and future tenses regularly use words
like this, as with andro`, parlo`, or scrivera`. But we will get to the grammar later. Most words don’t have any accent marks,
and with especially long words, this can make it a little difficult to know which syllable
to stress. The general rule of thumb is that Italian
words normally receive an accent on the penultimate, or second to last syllable. So it’s not scuoLA, it’s scuOla. It’s not SCIUpato, it’s sciuPAto. But this rule has many exceptions, and to
complicate matters further, there are words that take on different meanings simply by
stressing one syllable over another. Here are some examples. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen with every
word, and most of the time it’s relatively easy to guess where the stress goes. Here are some general rules for assigning
emphasis. Italian words that receive the stress on the
penultimate, or next-to-last syllable, are called piane. This includes the majority of Italian words. When the stress falls on the syllable before
that, the third-to-last, these words are called sdrucciole. If the stress falls even one syllable before
that, on the fourth-to-last, these words are called bisdrucciole. These include verbs or combinations of verbs
and pronouns, like visitano, or raccontamelo. And that’s all we need to know about Italian
phonetics.

9 comments on “Italian Phonetics Part 4: Accents and Stresses

  1. qqleq2 Post author

    But te and tè or e and è the sound does change! Also caffè i would say the sound changes compared to for instance donne buffe… No?

    Reply
  2. Russell Sharpe Post author

    I don't wish to be picky but the picture you put up for nocciolo "hazelnut tree" looks much more like an oak tree with acorns.

    Excellent series btw!

    Reply

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