There are some pronunciation rules we should all work hard to get spot on. They may be tricky but it’s worth the effort to avoid finding ourselves in an embarrassing situation.
Here are three easily mixed up words to be aware of if you don’t want to inadvertently say something rude.
1. Penne vs pene
The penne pasta we all know and love has to be pronounced correctly when ordering it in a restaurant, otherwise you may find yourself referring to a part of the male anatomy rather than a pasta shape.
In Italian, when there are two consonants together, the vowel before it is elongated and there is extra emphasis on the consonants. So, the pasta shape – penne – is pronounced pehhh-nneh.
When ordering a pasta dish or discussing pasta shapes with Italian friends, be sure not to pronounce it as pene (pen-eh) or you may be greeted with shock or laughter!
2. Anno vs ano
A common question many beginners learn when studying Italian is: how old are you - quanti anni hai? But it can be hard for English speakers to get a grip on the double consonant. So instead of asking ‘how old are you?’, they may find themselves asking ‘how many anuses do you have?’. Not a great mistake to make!
Anno means year and is pronounced aahnn-nnoh.
Ano means anus and is pronounced ah-no.
That’s definitely one worth practising.
3. Scoraggiare vs scoreggiare
Scoraggiare means to discourage. You could use it in this way:
Non ti scoraggiare – Don’t give up / don’t be discouraged
Mispronounce just one vowel in the middle and say scoreggiare, and you’ll be referring to someone passing wind.
Practise getting this one right to be sure you’re not telling someone to stop passing gas. Well unless that’s what you were going for!
Have you mixed up any of these words before, or do you know of any others?