Italian Language Lesson 12: Tagliatelle or Taghliatelli? The dilemma of gi or ghi in Italian language
It is surprising that despite how popular Italian food has become worldwide there are still plenty of words that are mispronounced. I frown every time I hear somebody ordering a ‘bruSHetta’ rather than ‘brusKetta’ or ‘taGHliatellI’ rather than ‘taGLiatellE’. I have attempted many times to explain the simple rule that lies behind these well-known dishes.
The Italian c has 2 possible sounds. It can sound like the ch in chip, or like the k in kite. When the letter ‘c’ is followed by ‘i’ or ‘e’, it becomes a soft ‘ch’ sound, as in ‘ciao’. But when the letter ‘c’ is followed by an ‘h’, it becomes a hard ‘k’ sound, such as in ‘macchiato’. Similarly, the letter ‘g’ has a ‘j’ sound when followed by ‘i’ or ‘e’ as in ‘giorno’ or ‘gelato’, but when it is followed by an ‘h’ it becomes a hard guttural ‘g’ as in the English word ‘get’, for example in ‘ghepardo’ or ‘ghiaccio’.
C + I= CI sounds like Chimp
C+E= CE sounds like Cherry
C+H+I= CHI sounds like Key
C+H+E= CHE sounds like Chemistry
C+A= CA sounds like Car
C+O= CO sounds like Cobra
C+U= CU sounds like Curious