Pronunciation of French loanwords in Italian

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by Syzygy, Jul 26, 2010.

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  1. Syzygy Senior Member

    German
    Ciao a tutti,
    I was wondering how French loanwords are pronounced when used by Italians. I know that in German or English, where you don't have nasal sounds, the pronunciation is often adulterated in such cases (Champagne, entrée, etc.). When it comes to Italian, I guess that the "r" would usually be adapted, i.e. rolled. Other than that, isn't it true that Italians pronounce pretty close to the French original, syllable stress and all? I ask because the DOP unfortunately doesn't seem to include French loan words (at least not the ones I threw at it, the latest ones being "stage", "tapis roulant" and "collant").
     
  2. Paulfromitaly

    Paulfromitaly MODerator

    Brescia (Italy)
    Italian
    I believe it depends on how educated are the speakers and on whether they know any French: for example I've never studied French so I'm likely to pronounce most of the French terms incorrectly.
    The same logic applies to English words.

    You may want to read these:

    Parole straniere in italiano - forum Solo Italiano
    parole straniere in italiano - accento - forum Solo Italiano
     
  3. MünchnerFax

    MünchnerFax Senior Member

    Germany
    Italian, Italy
    Hi Syzygy,

    Most Italians only care to stress the last syllable of the French words. Other than that, and unless the speaker knows French and is in a situation where correct pronunciation is important, we tend to pronounce the R's, the N's and the wovels in the Italian way. So for instance, tapis roulant is pronounced tapirulàn, with the Italian rolled R, and a standard A + N sound at the end like the Italian nano. The same for collant ("collàn"). As for stage, Italians know that g sound because most northern dialects also have it, so we generally pronounce it correctly.
     
  4. Syzygy Senior Member

    German
    Thank you very much, Paul, those threads are very interesting, also from a cultural viewpoint, even though I couldn't find any guidelines on how pronunciation of French words is adapted in common speech, or whether, in fact, the phonetic original is to be preferred.
    Meanwhile, the only thing related I could find on Wikipedia:
    "Alcuni fonemi non presenti nell'italiano entrano in uso assieme alla parola straniera: ad esempio la fricativa postalveolare sonora [ʒ] attraverso il prestito del francesismo garage."
    It seems the only surefire way of not sounding pretentious or plain silly is to pick it up from hearing it a couple of times. (again, it's a shame about DOP, not "shame on", though, it's still great! :))
    Thanks, MünchnerFax, for your explanations. I will boldly infer from this that nasals are usually dropped.
     
  5. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    One of the intolerable pronunciations you hear in Italian is that of "stage" (the French word for the period a student spends working in a firm during his/her university years) to rhyme with the English word "age". To make things worse, when Monica Lewinsky was in the news the Italians "coined" the word "stagista" (to refer to the chap/gal in question). But you ain't seen nothing yet. From "stagista", an English word has been invented: stagist.
    Therefore, many, referring in English to Ms L and to all interns, will say "He/She is a stagist". Enough to drive one crazy.
    Best.
    GS
     
  6. elena73

    elena73 Senior Member

    Tuscany
    ITALIAN
    I confirm what MünchnerFax says and add (from a cultural point of view) that trying to pronounce foreign words the 'right way' is NORMALLY considered as 'trying to brag' and as such a little frowned about...
    We have a saying in Italian that goes ''Parla come mangi'', ''Speak as you eat'', that is typical for this attitude...
    Of course it also depends on the specific speaker, but that's the general tendence..
     
  7. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Elena, hai ragione.
    Io però, per evitare "equinozi" tradurrei "Speak the way you eat".
    Che ne dici?
    Caramente.
    GS
     
  8. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    One last word. The new generations have been exposed — most of the times to not much avail— to English as an L2 in schools, consequently they don't know a thing of French, and when they pronounce a French word, name, etc. they tend to apply the "English rules of pronunciation". Us oldsters—who often studied French in our Middle Schools and continued with French and English/German— are horrified.
    Needless to say this happens most of the times with TV announcers as well, which thing acts as a sort of diabolical "reinforcement" for viewers/listeners.
    Best.
    GS
     
  9. Murphy

    Murphy Senior Member

    Sicily, Italy
    English, UK
    :)
     
  10. L'equilibrista Senior Member

    Terni - Italy
    Italian
    Tristemente vero. I giornalisti in tv ma anche spesso quelli della carta stampata sono degli autentici ignorantoni in materia! E purtroppo "dettano legge" per l'ascoltatore medio che non ha studiato le lingue straniere.

    Basta sentire come pronunciano la parola "summit" peraltro non tradotta, ma lasciamo stare che è meglio... che pena.
     
  11. MünchnerFax

    MünchnerFax Senior Member

    Germany
    Italian, Italy
    ModNote
    Boooni... :)

    Si parla della pronuncia dei prestiti francesi in italiano.
    NON si parla della pronuncia dei prestiti inglesi.
    NON si parla dell'invenzione di parole dall'aria inglese da parte degli italiani.
    NON si parla delle capacità linguistiche dei giornalisti nostrani.

    Omaggi. :)
     
  12. elena73

    elena73 Senior Member

    Tuscany
    ITALIAN
     
  13. brian

    brian Senior Member

    Montréal
    AmE (New Orleans)
    I wouldn't say that. Vowels immediately preceding nasal consonants are nasalized in both Italian and English. The primary difference, then, between these two languages and French is that the orthographic nasal consonant is (often) pronounced in Italian/English, whereas in French it's not. For example:

    entrée in French is pronounced [ɑ̃'tʀe]. Notice that the "n" is not pronounced; there is no [n] in the transcription. Rather, the nasality of the orthographic "n" surfaces simply as the nasalized vowel [ɑ̃]. (The squiggly "~" is a diacritic indicating nasality.)

    In Italian and English, however, even though nasalized vowels do exist, they're simply a byproduct of a nasal consonant that is actually pronounced. For example:

    on in English is pronounced [ɑ̃:n]. Notice the "~" indicating the vowel is nasalized, but that's merely because there is an [n] being pronounced. The nasality is a byproduct. Contrast this with, say, off, which is pronounced [ɑ:f]. Here we have the same vowel, but it's not nasalized because it's followed by a non-nasal consonant, [f].

    Well, the same thing happens in Italian, depending on the dialect of course. (Northern dialects are more nasally, due to French influence.) For example:

    comprare is pronounced [kõmˈpra:re], where the [o] is nasalized because it's followed by the nasal consonant [m]. Contrast this with coprire, pronounced [koˈpri:re], where the [o] is not nasalized.

    You can actually feel the difference by simply pronouncing on/off or comprare/coprire back to back. Nasality is produced when the velum is lowered (to let air out of the nose), and you can actually feel that the velum is in a different position when pronouncing these word pairs.

    So, all this just to say that when an Italian (or English) speaker pronounces a French word containing a nasal consonant, the preceding vowel will still be nasalized, but the nasal consonant will also be pronounced, while in French it's not. This is why, as MünchnerFax pointed out, collant will be pronounced collàn in Italian. That à will still be nasalized, but crucially, the n is pronounced where in French it would be [kɔlɑ̃] (a nasalized vowel not followed by a nasal consonant.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2010
  14. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Dear Brian,
    would you be kind enough to tell us where you found this information on the way Italians pronounce vowels before nasal consonants?
    Thank you.
    GS
     
  15. brian

    brian Senior Member

    Montréal
    AmE (New Orleans)
    My own ears. :)

    You can confirm or disprove: try saying potere and then potenza. You should find that the e in potenza is nasalized; that is, if you hold the e in potenza, you'll find that the velum is lowered and air is coming out of your nose, whereas with potere the velum is raised, so airflow is blocked.

    You'll never see nasalization transcribed in Italian (except maybe in the narrowest of transcriptions) because, as opposed to French, nasalization in Italian is not contrastive - it's simply a byproduct. That is to say, you'll never have two words pronounced exactly the same save for nasalization. In French, however, this does occur, as in [fε], "fait," versus [fɛ̃], "faim."
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2010
  16. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Thank you, Brian, I will.
    So you believe that the two vowels are allophones of the one phoneme /e/ and of course the reason we don't find anything about this phenomenon in our sacred books is that one can't find a minimal pair in Italian.
    Intriguing--- utterly.
    By the way, can you tell me where I can find the main IPA symbols in this Forum.
    All the best.
    GS
     
  17. elena73

    elena73 Senior Member

    Tuscany
    ITALIAN
    Brian, personally I prefer to skip the theory part, but from a factual point of view it's difficult for us to learn how to make nasal sounds in French (or, for me in the past, Brazilian Portuguese).
     
  18. brian

    brian Senior Member

    Montréal
    AmE (New Orleans)
    Yes, exactly.

    We don't really have list of IPA symbols that you can use in posts. Personally, when I want to use an IPA symbol, I copy & paste it from the IPA wiki.

    However, we do have a phonetics/phonology tutorial (work in progress): Phonetics and Phonology Tutorial and Resources.

    My point was that you actually do make nasal sounds - though not for all vowels; only those that can be followed by a nasal consonant.

    One trick might be to pretend like you're pronouncing an Italian word that starts similarly, but stop before the nasal consonant. For example, if you want to pronounce French bon, [bɔ̃], start pronouncing Italian bontà, but STOP before you pronounce the n. If you hold that vowel, you'll be pronouncing a nasalized vowel, and the word thus produced will be similar* to bon.

    *but not identical, since bon has [ɔ], whereas bontà has [o]; but the main point here is producing nasality, not vowel quality.
     
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