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  #1  
Old 04-25-2011, 03:47 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Pronunciation question from "The Borgias"

I've been enjoying the current series of The Borgias, but there is one thing that I find extremely grating, namely, the pronunciation of the name of Cesare Borgia.

I assume that the Italian pronunciation would be [tʃe'zare] (che-ZA-rey) (with no diphthong at the end).

I'm assuming that the ordinary Anglicization of this name is "Caesar" ['sizɚ] (SEE-zer) in General American and ['sizə] (SEE-zuh) in R.P.

However, on the show they are pronouncing it as ['tʃɛzəreɪ] (CHEZZ-uh-ray).

This pronunciation is driving me crazy. Is it a common way to Anglicize the Italian name "Cesare"? Is it something that has been going on for years and I've just never caught on to? If it's going to be Anglicized, why not just go all the way? Why go with this fish-half-out-of-the-water pronunciation?

Last edited by Acsenray; 04-25-2011 at 03:48 PM..
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  #2  
Old 04-25-2011, 04:38 PM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
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The Italian pronunciation would be CHEZZ-uh-ray, just as they're saying it in the program.
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Old 04-25-2011, 04:57 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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I'm not buying it. For example, none of the pronunciation samples here -- http://www.forvo.com/word/giulio_cesare/ -- sound like the pronunciation on the show. The vowels are all different.

Last edited by Acsenray; 04-25-2011 at 04:58 PM..
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Old 04-25-2011, 05:36 PM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
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Sorry, misread your post, you're quite right, the Italian pronunciation is the first one you gave.
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Old 04-25-2011, 06:06 PM
doreen doreen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acsenray View Post
This pronunciation is driving me crazy. Is it a common way to Anglicize the Italian name "Cesare"? Is it something that has been going on for years and I've just never caught on to? If it's going to be Anglicized, why not just go all the way? Why go with this fish-half-out-of-the-water pronunciation?
I don't think it's an anglicization, but I'm also not sure it's wrong. Remember, it takes place in Rome in the late 1400's. Pronuciations change in every language over the course of a few hundred years.
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Old 04-25-2011, 07:42 PM
A. Gwilliam A. Gwilliam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acsenray View Post
I assume that the Italian pronunciation would be [tʃe'zare] (che-ZA-rey) (with no diphthong at the end).

...

However, on the show they are pronouncing it as ['tʃɛzəreɪ] (CHEZZ-uh-ray).
As I understand it (not being an Italian speaker), you have the correct vowel sounds in your version, but the show's version has the correct stress. Thus ['tʃezare] is the correct form (maybe with [ɛ] in the first syllable).

It's not entirely unreasonable in my view for this to be pronounced by an English speaker as ['tʃɛzəreɪ]. The schwa is a bit sloppy, mind.


ETA:
The two Italian residents in the Forvo link seem to be using [ɛ], with the stress pattern as I indicated.
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  #7  
Old 04-26-2011, 03:54 AM
Themenin Themenin is offline
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Sounds like the show has it about right.

As noted by A. Gwilliam - the show correctly stresses the first syllable, and correctly renders the 's' as 'zzz'. As for the vowels, well Italian vowels aren't the same as English vowels, without even getting into regional variations, changes over time etc. so I'd give them a pass on that.

An English speaker would tend to "under-accentuate" the 'a', and transform the 're' (about as in 'wreck') into 'ray'.
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Old 04-26-2011, 04:23 AM
colonial colonial is offline
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cheZArey?

CHEZZuhray? (why two Zs?)

WTF?

Why the ridiculous affectation of foreign accent or pronunciation here
or in any other production where the dialog is in English?

How about the standard English SEEzer, and if you want to learn Italian
pronunciation then sign up for Italian 101?
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  #9  
Old 04-26-2011, 06:51 AM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colonial View Post
cheZArey?

CHEZZuhray? (why two Zs?)

WTF?

Why the ridiculous affectation of foreign accent or pronunciation here
or in any other production where the dialog is in English?

How about the standard English SEEzer, and if you want to learn Italian
pronunciation then sign up for Italian 101?
Give it up, I cant even get anybody to pronounce homage without the cheesy french accent.
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Old 04-26-2011, 07:39 AM
colonial colonial is offline
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Originally Posted by aruvqan View Post
Give it up, I cant even get anybody to pronounce homage without the cheesy french accent.
You mean they pronounce it ohmazh as in rhyming with the French word for cheese?

Aiyaiyai.
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  #11  
Old 04-26-2011, 08:14 AM
Colophon Colophon is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colonial View Post
cheZArey?

CHEZZuhray? (why two Zs?)

WTF?

Why the ridiculous affectation of foreign accent or pronunciation here
or in any other production where the dialog is in English?

How about the standard English SEEzer, and if you want to learn Italian
pronunciation then sign up for Italian 101?
If you have an English name like, say, Thomas, wouldn't you expect foreigners to do you the courtesy of pronouncing it at least roughly like you do, rather than, say, "Toe-MAHH"? Names should be pronounced as they are by their owners, as far as possible and unless they agree to go by an Anglicised version thereof.
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  #12  
Old 04-26-2011, 08:43 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colonial View Post
cheZArey?

CHEZZuhray? (why two Zs?)
I provided the IPA transcription to make it unambiguous.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colophon View Post
If you have an English name like, say, Thomas, wouldn't you expect foreigners to do you the courtesy of pronouncing it at least roughly like you do, rather than, say, "Toe-MAHH"? Names should be pronounced as they are by their owners, as far as possible and unless they agree to go by an Anglicised version thereof.
First of all, this is a completely different situation than dealing with a living person face-to-face. This is a dramatic presentation in which largely British actors speaking in English are performing a fictionalized version of a historical story. There's absolutely no reason to try to resurrect the original speech and pronunciations of the characters. The damn show's in English. Don't switch to a really bad Italian accent for the sake of one single name. Not only is it historically wrong, it's dramatically stupid. Drives me nuts. Just call him Caesar.
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Old 04-26-2011, 09:22 AM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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Originally Posted by acsenray View Post
However, on the show they are pronouncing it as ['tʃɛzəreɪ] (CHEZZ-uh-ray).
According to this spoken-word link, ['tʃɛzəreɪ] -- with the first syllable stressed -- is very close. The Italian speaker at that link pronounces it more like ['tʃɛ za re], which is a difference that will be lost on 99.9999% of an English-speaking audience.
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  #14  
Old 04-26-2011, 09:25 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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I'm hearing that as ['tʃe za re], not ['tʃɛ za re].
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Old 04-26-2011, 09:29 AM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acsenray View Post
I'm hearing that as ['tʃe za re], not ['tʃɛ za re].
... again, a distinction lost on a vast majority of the audience.

You know too much about language, and it's getting in the way of your enjoyment of this program
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  #16  
Old 04-26-2011, 09:34 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Originally Posted by bordelond View Post
... again, a distinction lost on a vast majority of the audience.
And I think the audience would have been just as happy with "Caesar Borgia."

The HBO series Rome stuck with standard Anglicized names. We didn't have to hear bad attempts at authentic pronunciations -- Yoolioos Kyzar and such.
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  #17  
Old 04-26-2011, 01:09 PM
Mk VII Mk VII is offline
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I recall the BBC's 1981 version of The Borgias and there was this same variation. Adolfo Celi's performance and accent (apparently he learned his English lines phonetically) came in for particular criticism.

Last edited by Mk VII; 04-26-2011 at 01:10 PM..
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  #18  
Old 04-26-2011, 02:23 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colonial View Post
You mean they pronounce it ohmazh as in rhyming with the French word for cheese?

Aiyaiyai.
yup. it was doing just fine anglicized, then the artistic emoweenies had to change the pronunciation back to show how artistic they were.
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Old 04-26-2011, 09:00 PM
colonial colonial is offline
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You think I would apply different rules to productions in other languages?
Well, I would not.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Colophon View Post
If you have an English name like, say, Thomas, wouldn't you expect foreigners to do you the courtesy of pronouncing it at least roughly like you do,
Nonsense. The only party due such courtesy is the audience whose language
the work is composed in. They are the ones buying the tickets, aren't they?
There may be a few random versions where an Anglo audience might be as
familiar with the foreign as the English, such as Pierre and Pedro (but not Pyotor).
In such cases the foreign may be used since it will not mystify the paying customers.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Colophon View Post
rather than, say, "Toe-MAHH"?
I doubt the ghost of Thomas Jefferson (did he expect the locals to call him
TOMas while he was over there?) would be upset if his name were pronounced
as in French in a French movie. I am sure I would not be.

And since we are dealing with French now, you do not seriously propose that
English-language productions need to change over from Joan of Arc to Zhon DAR,
do you? How about Charles to SHARL as in Gen. DeGaulle?



Quote:
Originally Posted by Colophon View Post
Names should be pronounced as they are by their owners, as far as possible and unless they agree to go by an Anglicised version thereof.
Names in Movie/TV production should be pronounced as by their listeners,
who if English speakers would have no fricken idea what the Anglisized version
cheZArey and CHEZZuhray might be.
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  #20  
Old 04-26-2011, 09:03 PM
colonial colonial is offline
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Originally Posted by aruvqan View Post
yup. it was doing just fine anglicized, then the artistic emoweenies had to change the pronunciation back to show how artistic they were.
"Artistic emoweenies"- now that's a good put-down.

Hope you don't mind if I add it to my own arsenal.
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  #21  
Old 04-27-2011, 07:17 AM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colonial View Post
"Artistic emoweenies"- now that's a good put-down.

Hope you don't mind if I add it to my own arsenal.
Enjoy =)
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  #22  
Old 04-27-2011, 11:31 AM
Colophon Colophon is online now
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Originally Posted by colonial View Post
How about Charles to SHARL as in Gen. DeGaulle?
That's the way it's pronounced by the BBC.

There's a hotel near me called the Casa dei Cesari. I'm never sure how to pronounce it. I used to read it as "Cass-uh day sez-ARE-ee" but then decided it's probably "CHEZZ-uh-ree". I've only been there once and forgot to ask. Maybe I should see how they answer their phone...
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  #23  
Old 04-27-2011, 12:51 PM
BigT BigT is offline
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Do people not get the difference between pronouncing the name similar to how it actually sounds and affecting an accent? The latter may be considered obnoxious, but I though the former was standard. I thought it was standard in American English to convert words into using our phonemes.

There is no /e/ in the most of the American accents of which I am aware. There are only /ɛ/ and /eɪ/. The latter, when spelled as an E, is usually used at the end of words. The former is the more popular realization of E in the middle of the words. Similarly, unaccented back vowels often become neutralized to a schwa. I see ['tʃɛzəreɪ] as a reasonable anglicized pronunciation of the Italian ['tʃezare].

As for why not just use Caesar? Perhaps to contemporize it. While historical names are often translated, modern names often are not. Another idea might be to make it seem more Italian. Still another may be that his name just normally isn't translated for whatever reason. A Google search shows 388,000 results for "Cesare Borgia" and only 73,500 for "Caesar Borgia."

At least, that's my two quadrans.
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Old 04-27-2011, 01:15 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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I don't see any reason to use an Anglicized approximation of an Italian word when there is slready a perfectly good English version of it. Why then use the English versions of proper names like Rome, Florence, Milan, Italy, France, and so on? The name Lucretia Borgia has been part of the English language for centuries. It annoys me that in a production that is otherwise entirely in Enlish, that all of a sudden she becomes Lucrezia. Lucrezia, at least doesn't sound stupid the way Jeremy Irons pronounces it whereas his pronunciation of Cesare grates like hell. Chesiree, twin sister of Desiree, the new members of Gemini's Twin. It's an SNL sketch.

Last edited by Acsenray; 04-27-2011 at 01:17 PM..
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Old 04-27-2011, 01:46 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Is Borgia being referred to as Pope Alexander in the show or Papa Alessandro?
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  #26  
Old 04-27-2011, 09:05 PM
colonial colonial is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colophon View Post
That's the way it's pronounced by the BBC.
Not in this BBC production it isn't:

Nicolas Sarkozy to mark De Gaulle broadcast anniversary

Hopefully any artistic emoweenie subversion of BBO has been eradicated,
as it should be.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Colophon View Post
There's a hotel near me called the Casa dei Cesari. I'm never sure how to pronounce it. I used to read it as "Cass-uh day sez-ARE-ee" but then decided it's probably "CHEZZ-uh-ree". I've only been there once and forgot to ask. Maybe I should see how they answer their phone...
If they are using the unfamiliar CHEZZ-uh-ree thay could probably improve
their occupancy rate at least 10% by making the switch to sez-ARE-ee.
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  #27  
Old 07-03-2011, 04:07 AM
carey31 carey31 is offline
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Borgia pronunciation take 2

At least they get the consonants right in "Cesare" that is...What kills my ears is all the people who use a soft "g" when saying Borgia. In ITALIAN a soft "g" sound requires an H before the vowel "i". If the name were "Borghia" then they'd be saying it right.

to quote smartphrase.com

• before e or i - like g in gymnastics
• otherwise - like g in go

This name is originally Spanish though. Written "Borja" is further proof of the intended abruptness in the name... As an English speaker, show some class and pronounce the name "Borgia" like this: "borr-jia" (or "bor-ja" if you can't roll an "r" and/or fit that quick "i" sound in)

The "gia" is intended to be pronounced quickly like "Aqua di Gio" cologne. (aqua di "jo" is literally how it should sound fyi)

Last edited by carey31; 07-03-2011 at 04:10 AM..
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Old 07-03-2011, 04:31 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mk VII View Post
I recall the BBC's 1981 version of The Borgias and there was this same variation. Adolfo Celi's performance and accent (apparently he learned his English lines phonetically) came in for particular criticism.
Maybe because Celi was playing Rodrigo Borgia with an Italian accent (but he did speak English so the phonetic story is wrong). Rodrigo Borgia was not Italian, he was Spanish.

It's like an actor playing Adolf Hitler. An Austrian accent would be authentic. A mild American or English accent would be wrong but not noticeable. But an incorrect foreign accent is going to be noticeably wrong.

Last edited by Little Nemo; 07-03-2011 at 04:33 AM..
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  #29  
Old 07-03-2011, 06:19 AM
JKellyMap JKellyMap is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carey31 View Post
At least they get the consonants right in "Cesare" that is...What kills my ears is all the people who use a soft "g" when saying Borgia. In ITALIAN a soft "g" sound requires an H before the vowel "i". If the name were "Borghia" then they'd be saying it right.
Just to clarify, I think most people use "soft" and "hard" to mean the opposite of your use of the terms.
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Old 07-03-2011, 10:07 AM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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Originally Posted by JKellyMap View Post
Just to clarify, I think most people use "soft" and "hard" to mean the opposite of your use of the terms.
The terms soft and hard do not actually exist in phonetics. We were taught those words in grade school phonics, as a form of intellectual baby-pap fed to children as a substitute for learning genuine phonetics. But since very few of us ever learned real phonetics in our subsequent education—our educators, for some short-sighted, mistaken reason, have evidently considered phonetics unworthy of being taught—we have never progressed beyond this baby-talk when we need to discuss phonetics. The present exchange is a good example of why soft and hard ought to be banished from the vocabulary of language study, since they have no actual meaning in phonetics: Nobody can really know what anyone else means by those words.

I saw the same terms used in Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie referring to the different pronunciations of /d/ that distinguish the words buḍḍha 'old man' and Buddha 'enlightened'. The sound is a retroflex /ɖ/ in the former word and dental /d/ in the latter, but Rushdie called them "hard" and "soft" respectively, which means nothing at all.

In the case of the name Borgia /ˈbɔrdʒa/ in Italian, the g is pronounced as a voiced palatal affricate /dʒ/, as opposed to a voiced velar stop /ɡ/. Now there is a clear and unambiguous description of a sound that cannot lead to any mistakes.

carey31 is mistaken about there being a "quick i sound" in Borgia. There is no /i/ vowel sound at all. The use of <i> in the spelling between <c> or <g> and another vowel is just to show that there's a palatal affricate sound as opposed to a velar stop.
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Old 07-03-2011, 11:29 AM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carey31 View Post
This name is originally Spanish though. Written "Borja" is further proof of the intended abruptness in the name...
I'm not sure I understand your complaint because to my ears virtually everyone on the show is saying Borja(s). At the very least they're all properly rendering it as two syllables, not the three you'd expect if someone were trying to sound it out as an English word (thankfully not Bore-gee-ahs).
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Old 07-04-2011, 09:39 PM
carey31 carey31 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johanna View Post
The terms soft and hard do not actually exist in phonetics. We were taught those words in grade school phonics, as a form of intellectual baby-pap fed to children as a substitute for learning genuine phonetics. But since very few of us ever learned real phonetics in our subsequent education—our educators, for some short-sighted, mistaken reason, have evidently considered phonetics unworthy of being taught—we have never progressed beyond this baby-talk when we need to discuss phonetics. The present exchange is a good example of why soft and hard ought to be banished from the vocabulary of language study, since they have no actual meaning in phonetics: Nobody can really know what anyone else means by those words.

I saw the same terms used in Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie referring to the different pronunciations of /d/ that distinguish the words buḍḍha 'old man' and Buddha 'enlightened'. The sound is a retroflex /ɖ/ in the former word and dental /d/ in the latter, but Rushdie called them "hard" and "soft" respectively, which means nothing at all.

In the case of the name Borgia /ˈbɔrdʒa/ in Italian, the g is pronounced as a voiced palatal affricate /dʒ/, as opposed to a voiced velar stop /ɡ/. Now there is a clear and unambiguous description of a sound that cannot lead to any mistakes.

carey31 is mistaken about there being a "quick i sound" in Borgia. There is no /i/ vowel sound at all. The use of <i> in the spelling between <c> or <g> and another vowel is just to show that there's a palatal affricate sound as opposed to a velar stop.
Bahaha whatever I know how it should sound. Just because you studied that shit in a book doesn't mean you're authentic. Obviously you don't pronounce the "i" but it's like the word "già" which wouldn't be the same if you wrote it "ga" to someone who actually knows how Italian should sound.....fyiiiiii
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Old 07-04-2011, 09:41 PM
carey31 carey31 is offline
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Originally Posted by carey31 View Post
Bahaha whatever I know how it should sound. Just because you studied that shit in a book doesn't mean you're authentic. Obviously you don't pronounce the "i" but it's like the word "già" which wouldn't be the same if you wrote it "ga" to someone who actually knows how Italian should sound.....fyiiiiii
...without spelling out that "i" bullshit most anglos would say "borJA" like "JAMMING" you scholar you
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  #34  
Old 07-05-2011, 12:11 AM
Nava Nava is online now
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NM, I'm not having a good day.

Last edited by Nava; 07-05-2011 at 12:15 AM..
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  #35  
Old 07-05-2011, 07:24 AM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carey31 View Post
Bahaha whatever I know how it should sound. Just because you studied that shit in a book doesn't mean you're authentic. Obviously you don't pronounce the "i" but it's like the word "già" which wouldn't be the same if you wrote it "ga" to someone who actually knows how Italian should sound.....fyiiiiii
Do you understand the terms voiced palatal affricate and voiced velar stop? Do you realize that you're stating the same thing as me? What exactly are you arguing against?

FYI I was brought up in an Italian-speaking family and my earliest memories are of speaking Italian. I went on to study linguistics.

You're new here. If you decide to stick around and learn how this community works, you'll find that they have more respect for knowledge around here. That includes the kind of systematized, organized knowledge found in books.
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