ES.S41 | Spring 2012 | Undergraduate

Speak Italian With Your Mouth Full

Lesson 1

Lesson 1: Language Instruction

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Lezione Numero Uno/Lesson Number One

Watch a video:

Lesson 1, Part 1: Langauge Instruction

Short Dialogue

Ciao, (io) mi chiamo Paola. Hello, I am called (literally “I call myself”) Paola
(Tu) come ti chiami (informal)? What’s your name (literally “How do you call yourself”)?
Piacere! Nice to meet you! (Literally “pleasure”)
Ciao! Informal hello and goodbye.
Notice that in Italian in most contexts you can omit the subject to a sentence (io, tu above).

Listen to this short dialogue:

Mi Chiamo (MP3)

Le Vocali/Vowels


We use grave and acute accents, although in handwriting it mostly makes no difference. Most words have grave (or open) accents (e.g. caffè).

Acute (or closed) accents (e.g. perché) are less common. I (and many many Italians) pronounce acute accents open, but it is not approved by the Accademia della Crusca (literally The Academy of the Bran), a society of scholars and linguists that was founded around 1582–1583 with the goal of developing and protecting the pure Italian language. The name comes from the process of sifting the best flour from the lower quality bran.

Seven basic vowel sounds:

  • A È E I
  • A Ò O U


Accents at the end of a word are important! Here are a few examples:

  • Papa (the Pope) vs. papà (dad)
  • pero (pear tree) vs però (but/however)


Concerning consonants, in Italian we have single and double consonants (doppie).

Rosa (pink/rose) Rossa (red)
Tono (tone) Tonno (tuna)
Belo (bleat) Bello (beautiful)
Il Papa (m) (Pope)  La Pappa (f) (a cute way to say food, e.g. when talking to babies. Expression also used to deplore pureed food that doesn’t look very tasty.)
La nona (f) (the ninth) La nonna (the grandma)

Listen to the vowels, accents, and consonants:

Vocali (MP3 - 1.7MB)

The Verb Cucinare/To Cook

We got hungry fast, hence it was time to cook (cucinARE).

INDICATIVO PRESENTE (I cook, you cook, s/he cooks…)

(Io) cucino.
(Tu) cucini.
(Lui/Lei)(Egli/Essa…not much used) cucina.
(Noi) cuciniamo.
(Voi) cucinate.
(Loro)(Essi..not much used) cucinano.

Listen to the conjugation of cucinare:

Cucinare (MP3)


Lesson 1 Assignment (PDF)

Use this audio file for task #3 in the assignments.

Pronuncia (MP3 - 3.7MB)

Use this audio file for task #4 in the assignments.

Dettato (MP3 - 1.7MB)

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Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2012
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Lecture Videos
Activity Assignments
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