Pronunciation: the letter "C" in Italian

Level A1

Ciao a tutti!

Today we talk about the pronunciation of a letter which is difficult for many, especially at the initial stages of the study, but sometimes, even after: the letter "C".

This letter, according to the IPA (international phonetic alphabet) has two different readings: while one has a sonorous reading, the other one is silent. Let's see more accurately, thanks also to the support of audio files that you will find below, in which cases one is used instead of another or vice versa.

  • · Sonorous C

The easiest to learn because its sound corresponds to the English "k", not surprisingly, in fact, in the IPA the symbol / k / is used to represent it. The sound pronunciation is used whenever the letter "C" is accompanied by the vowels "A, O and U"; so we will have:

casa Como cuore cane cosa cuoco

amica poco cucina

  • · Silent C

This second version of the letter in question is represented by the IPA as /tʃ/, meaning the pronunciation is soft or as previously said “silent”. It is pronounced in this way, every time the "C" is followed by the vowels “E” and I”:

cena cinema

cestino cibo

cera cucina

cercare cinese

dolce vicino

We can have the same pronunciation also with the vowels "A, O and U", as long as before them there is the vowel “I” to make the sound more sweet as in the examples below:

ciabatta cioccolata ciuccio

ciambella bacio acciuga

arancia riccio ciuffo

faccia ciotola fanciulla

  • · C + H

The last sound combination with the letter “C” it is in association with the letter “H”. Thanks to the letter “H”, in fact, “C’s” sound becomes harder. We can use it before the vowels “E” and “I”, as in the following examples:

poche chiesa amiche chiosco

barche chiave

zucchero chiodo

forchetta chiuso

lumache chiaro

In many of these cases, the combination of “C + H” is used to form the plural of the syllables “CA”, “CO” and “CU” (for example lumaca-lumache), but I will talk about this aspect in another article.

I hope everything is clear now and if you still have any doubts leave a comment below, I will be happy to answer you!

Grazie, a presto!

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