Italian Tongue Twisters: to test tricky intonation and talking techniques
Keen to practice your Italian pronunciation? These fun tongue twisters will be sure to challenge your Italian speaking and are a great way to overcome the tricky letter combinations we face when learning this pesky language.
1. Un limone, mezzo limone, due limoni, tre limoni.
Translation: A lemon, half a lemon, two lemons, three lemons.
This short tongue twister is a simpler and more fun to say! It will help you get used to speaking vowel-ended words before consonants and also helps you practice quantity vocabulary by saying “half,” “two” and “three,
2. Trentatré trentini entrarono a Trento tutti e trentatré trotterellando.
Translation: Thirty-three people from Trentino came into Trent, all thirty-three trotting along
This Italian tongue twister is a very popular one: useful to work on your “t” words, particularly the “tr” sound that come up in many words, like trentatré. This is a tricky one, so start by reading it slowly and it will gradually become easier.
3. Guglielmo coglie ghiaia dagli scogli scagliandola oltre gli scogli tra mille gorgogli.
Translation: Guglielmo grabs gravel from the rocks, hurling it over the rocks in a thousand gurgles.
A really challenging one for Italian learners, this tongue twister includes the daunting little sound “gli.”, showing up eight times in the sentence. “Gli” in Italian uses a “lyee” type sound (like the second half of the word “million.”) These three little letters are really a mouthful, Practice saying “million” slowly, or overstress the sound“lyee,” to get over this complex pronunciation.
4. In un piatto poco cupo, poco pepe cape.
Translation: In a dish not deep enough, not much pepper fits.
While you may think the Italian ‘p’ is no different to the English, there is a small variance. In English, you often aspirate, with a slight breath after the sound, but in Italian, there’s no aspiration, and it is shorter and cleaner.
5. Sotto le frasche del capanno, quattro gatti grossi stanno; sotto quattro grossi sassi, quattro gatti grossi e grassi.
Translation: Under the boughs of the shack, four big cats stand; under four big stones, four big fat cats.
This tongue twister is full of double consonants! The double “n” and double “s” are held slightly longer than you’d pronounce a single letter, like an extra beat in the word.
For the double “t,” the stop is more pronounced and emphatic than usual, with a stronger punch on the syllable ending in the double “t”. Listen to examples of Italian’s pronouncing double consonants and you will get the hang of it easily!
The Italian language is certainly a beautiful and elegant one but is by no means the easiest. By conquering these tricky pronunciation obstacles with these fun Italian tongue twisters, continuous practice will have you speaking more like a true italiano in no time!
If you wish to learn deeper about Italian language and pronunciation, take a look here!