English words that catch Italians out (almost) every time

Parole inglesi difficili da pronunciare

There are always lots of stumbling blocks for people speaking a foreign language and some English words are particularly tricky to pronounce for our fellow Italians. Andrea Passadori put together a top ten in an article for the Huffington Post and we’ve picked out the ones that we think are most interesting!

The aspirated ‘h’ at the start and the almost silent ‘r’ make the pronunciation of this word particularly problematic. When it is uttered by the average Italian, it can easily be mistaken for terms like hurt, earth and hard, potentially leading to all sorts of confusion – especially in romantic relationships!

The way in which people say this word can often be a tell-tale sign of a non-native speaker. Even Italians who are fairly fluent in English frequently make the mistake of pronouncing the silent ‘s’!

The problem here for Italian people lies in stressing the right part of the word. Picture the scene: a bright young thing from Italy is being interviewed for the job of her dreams in Boston and showing off her highly proficient language skills, when suddenly she ruins it all by uttering a word that sounds more like “develòppement”!

In Italian, ‘gn’ is always pronounced like it is at the start of gnocchi: the delicious dish that we all know and love. Italians spend their school days having this fact drilled into them, so they sometimes struggle to remember to pronounce the hard ‘g’ in English words such as pregnant, magnetic and ignorant.

All good Italian schoolchildren know that the plural of woman is women. Italians rarely make mistakes on that front when they’re writing, but they often slip up when they’re speaking because they tend to pronounce the ‘o’ and forget that the word is read more like ‘wimen’.

(Original article: Andrea Passadori – Huffington Post)


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