Italy 11

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BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

AGE: 39

DATE OF BIRTH (DD/MM/YYYY): 1971

PLACE OF BIRTH: Biella, Italy

GENDER: male

ETHNICITY: Italian/Caucasian

OCCUPATION: director of foreign division (U.S.) of Italian fashion house

EDUCATION: diploma in business management

AREA(S) OF RESIDENCE OUTSIDE REPRESENTATIVE REGION FOR LONGER THAN SIX MONTHS:

Subject was born in Biella, in the Piedmont region of Italy, and raised there but also at a Swiss boarding school from age 8. Other places he has lived include Edinburgh; Cambridge, England; London; Madrid; Urbino; Rome; and Hong Kong (nearly three years). At the time of recording, he had lived in New York City for about three and a half years.

OTHER INFLUENCES ON SPEECH:

Subject’s first language is Italian. He also speaks French and Spanish and a little bit of Japanese and Putongwa (Mandarin). He learned English informally (from other students) from age 8 to 14 while at boarding school, then studied English formally starting at age 15 in Italy, with Italian teachers.  He has expressed a strong personal preference for Southeastern English pronunciation over American (on aesthetic grounds), but some aspects of his speech are still influenced by the English he learned form American schoolmates at his boarding school and the varieties of English he has heard daily since moving to the United States.

The text used in our recordings of scripted speech can be found by clicking here.

RECORDED BY: Amy Stoller

DATE OF RECORDING (DD/MM/YYYY): 16/11/2010

PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION OF SCRIPTED SPEECH: N/A

TRANSCRIBED BY: N/A

DATE OF TRANSCRIPTION (DD/MM/YYYY): N/A

ORTHOGRAPHIC TRANSCRIPTION OF UNSCRIPTED SPEECH:

[Interviewer: Where in the world would you most like to live?] Madrid, for sure. Yeah, Madrid. Spain. In general. Ummm, there are places that I visited where I would go and live for long time; funny enough, that might be Istanbul, in Turkey, because it’s right in the  middle of the world. So you can go everywhere form there. Um, I would probably live in Italy, if I would not need to work. So if I would be a millionaire, or a writer, um where you can really work wherever you want, and not needing anyone there, and not needing to really fit in the society; at that point, I would live in Italy, otherwise there’s no point to live in Italy at all, because it’s far too complicated a country, to live in. Absolutely. Therefore, I would definitely live in Spain, although I was reading right now that Spain is going to hit the 12 or 13 percent of, of unemployment rate, and that’s, oh, just horrendous. So that’s the other place where I would live, but again, to get a job that pays a good amount of money, and allows you to have a decent life, you need place where there is money. And Italy and Spain don’t seems those places.

TRANSCRIBED BY: Amy Stoller

DATE OF TRANSCRIPTION (DD/MM/YYYY): 16/11/2010

PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION OF UNSCRIPTED SPEECH: N/A

TRANSCRIBED BY: N/A

DATE OF TRANSCRIPTION (DD/MM/YYYY): N/A

SCHOLARLY COMMENTARY:

Some phonetics (antiquated IPA fonts) may not display correctly for you in the commentary at the bottom of this page. If this is the case, please consult this image of the original file:

Italian syllable stress is usually on the penultimate syllable, occasionally on the ultimate syllable, in which case the stressed vowel is marked with an acute accent. This stress pattern occasionally takes over speaker’s English: lunatic >lu’nætik; Istanbul >̞i̞stanbəl. Apart from such obvious stress errors, the underlying rhythm of  Italian shines through his unscripted speech, in the particular length he gives to stressed words and syllables; likewise the melody, which differs just enough from a typical English or American melody to be noticeable. The effect is intensified by his tendency to drop small words and short syllables altogether. Final consonant clusters often simplified; final D often dropped; final T often glottaled.

Italian lacks [ɪ], having only [i]. Speaker frequently uses this Italian vowel (sometimes lowered slightly [i̞]), in English words calling for [ɪ] or [i]: Kit [ki ̞t] (almost keet), practice [præktis]; animal [ani̞mal], see it [si̞ːt], live [li̞v].  Speaker lacks awareness of English vowel-length rules. So in addition to substituting [i, i 4] for [ɪ], he can, for example, pronounce the verbs live and leave variously as [li 4v,li 4>v, li 4˘v]. This is very noticeable in his unscripted speech: there are places that I visited where I would go and live for long time (“… where I would go and leave for a long time”); I would probably live … in Italy; at that point, I would live in Italy.

Other examples include fleece jacket > flea’s jacket; and course > cause. This also contributes to the overall difference in his intonation pattern from that of most native anglophone speakers. Difficulty with vowel length, and with reduced vowels for unstressed syllables, occasionally results in stress being
applied to an incorrect syllable in a word: veterinary; official. Stress may also be applied un-idiomatically to a word in a phrase, such as her first morning; when she got there.

Italian lacks [æ], and speaker occasionally lowers [æ] to [a]: or raises it slightly toward [ɛ]: happy. Speaker’s English is essentially non-rhotic, owing to his preference for British English. Occasionally he slips and includes r-coloration: Madrid. For sure; right in the middle of the world. T and D are dentalized [t 5, d 5]. Unvoiced and voiced TH [T, D] frequently (not always) pronounced as dental stops [t 5, d 5]. Italian lacks a native H sound [h], and while speaker’s grasp of English rules for H is usually secure, he makes occasional errors: dropped H in huge, in first word of her efforts, intruded H in second word [´ »hEfçts]. The intruded H is not uncommon in Italian speakers of English, when two similar vowels end one word and begin the next. (Native anglophones would either glide or use a glottal attack on the initial vowel of the second word.) In “She ate a bowl of porridge,” note speaker’s self-correction of “hate” to “ate.”

Owing to the vagaries of English spelling, speaker makes some errors when reading aloud that he would almost certainly not make were he to use the same words in conversation. Bowl > bowel, wiped > weeped, Italianized futile.
He judges the stresses incorrectly in veterinary, perhaps to make it chime with more familiar words such as secretary, necessary: [v´»tE®I«nE®i].

Speaker’s grammar is often nonstandard; he has difficulty with the conditional tense (if I would be a millionaire; if I would not need to work), and uses various other non-standard constructions such as don’t seems those places.

Other notes: [z] in goose, diagnosis; official [»ofS…]; unvoiced TH [T] in although; intruded schwa at end of place; percentile [p´»sEntl`].

COMMENTARY BY: N/A

DATE OF COMMENTARY (DD/MM/YYYY): N/A

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