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Beginners’ Italian: food and drink
Beginners’ Italian: food and drink

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2   Italian pronunciation of c and ch

This section will guide you in pronouncing some important food and drink words in the the right way.

Pronunciation: c, ci and ch

The letter c has a ‘soft’ sound before i or e. It is pronounced /tʃ/, as in the English word ‘church’:

cappuccino

The letter c has a hard sound before a, o or u. It is pronounced /k/, as in the English word ‘cat’:

caffè

The letter combination ch always has a hard sound. It is pronounced /k/, as in the English word ‘cat’:

bicchiere

Note that the same rule applies regardless whether the word is spelled with a single or a double c.

Activity 3

Now listen to each audio clip below and repeat, paying particular attention to the different ways in which the letter c is pronounced.. Record yourself and compare your recording to the original.

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Activity 4

A group of friends are ordering drinks from a waiter. Listen to the audio track and identify the drinks mentioned. Then write down the names of the drinks in Italian.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: l195_b1_u1_aud002.mp3
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Answer

The drinks mentioned are: una birra, un caffè, un bicchiere di vino bianco, un tè and un succo di frutta.

Culture: Per favore, grazie, prego

The expression per favore (‘please’) is used much less often than ‘please’ is in English. It is not considered impolite to omit per favore when asking for something.

On the other hand, grazie (‘thank you’) is used often.

It is customary to respond to grazie by saying prego. This means ‘not at all / you’re welcome / don’t mention it’ (the literal meaning is ‘I beg you’) but is used more routinely than these equivalent English expressions.

Later you will come across several other meanings of prego, which vary according to the context, such as ‘Can I help you?’, ‘Come in’, ‘Do sit down’ and ‘After you’.