Italian language and culture beginners' course
La Strada (the street) is a guide to Italian culture with hints of Italian language. Based on real life situations and with audiorecordings by a voice-over specialist (CD sold separately), the course is a vital tool for everyone who loves Italy. Divided into 11 Modules (104 pages), the book presents facts about Italian lifestyle, etiquette, manners, do’s and don’ts, phonetics, and useful information about Italy (travelling, health system, food and drink, legislation). There is also a chapter (L'insegnante risponde) where the questions of previous students have been answered by Italian experts (for example: what is the origin of the word "Mafia"? or "what is the meaning of "prego"?). The course is developed by language company Williams Language Solutions.
Sounds which could confuse are “ch” and “ci” (as in Florence's Ponte Vecchio or Leonardo da Vinci). Here is an example to help you remember how to pronounce it.
“ch”: strangely, no-one has any doubts about how to pronounce Chianti, but when it comes to Ponte Vecchio, this is often pronounced as in "charming". When in doubt, change the "ch" into "k"! Incidentally, this is also how the sound ‘ch' is written in Italian text message language (which I am not going to teach you...). In text messages che cosa (what) becomes “ke cosa”, and chi (who) becomes "ki". To the dismay of Italian linguists, language evolves with society!
Regarding the sound “ci”, we can use the following quotation from “Innocents Abroad” by Mark Twain:
“They spell it Vinci and pronounce it Vinchy; foreigners always spell better than they pronounce”
Le vostre domande...(your questions...)
...le mie risposte (...my answers)
1. What is the origin of the word Ciao? (By John