Speak Up or Shut Up! Four Words I Constantly Mispronounce in Italian

You’d think having an Italian husband who speaks four languages and a father-in-law who is a retired Italian professor would help my quest to perfect the language.

You’d think.

The problem is, they think it is cute when I butcher their beautiful words and they take their sweet time correcting me on them.

I’ve lived in Italy almost four years-and informally studied Italian years before that-the problem is, my husband and his family won’t correct me.

At least not every time.

Here are four words I mispronounced in Italian for years before somebody came clean and made a correction.

1. Monstro
Italophiles will notice an extra little “n” added to that word and realize it is just plain wrong. However, when your husband picks up your mistake and repeats it incessantly in his normal day-to-day dealings, you don’t realize it is wrong.

It wasn’t until the TV mini-series, “Mostro di Firenze” aired at the end of last year that I realized my mistake.

“But why didn’t you tell me?” I quizzed my husband.

“Because it’s so funny,” he told me. “And coming from you … it’s paradiso.”

(In fact, as I was typing this post, he walked in and without even breaking a grin said, “Hey, Monstra, you want to eat?”)

Hmmm … .

2. Mofioso
I don’t know why my mouth insists of creating an “O” where there should so obviously be an “A,” yet for me, this derivative of the word “Mafia,” has always been repeated, “Mofioso.”

Here’s an example.

Me: “That little boy (who is running up and down the aisles at church) is so cute.”

Husband: “Si, he is … he is a little mofioso!”

GUS-Basedphoto credit: Gremily & Gus

3. Pedini
Admittedly I have pronunciation issues with many of the “ini” and “ione” –type endings in Italian, however, for years I didn’t realize piedini was one of them.

Yes, I know piedi is feet. Yes, I know the logical extension of that would be piedini.

No, I don’t say it that way.

4. Confusione
The first Italian song I feel in love with was the Ricchi e Poveri hit “Sarà Perchè Ti Amo.”

A line in the song says,

“Che confusione, sarà perché ti amo
è un emozione, che cresce piano piano”

Instead of the Italian “confusione,” I’d Americanize it by saying “confushione.” For the record, I also butchered emoshione,” but that was years ago … I really should get a pass on that one.

Come on Italian-language speakers, speak up! I confessed! What words did you mispronounce when learning the language?

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9 Responses
  1. Intrinsico rather than intrinseco, and tons of others I can’t remember right now. But I have another problem with distinguishing and choosing the right word when there are many variants that sound the same, but aren’t. Like tovaglia, tovagliolo, tovaglietta. Or piumino and piumone, which one is a jacket and which one goes on the bed? Aaaah!

    OmG, there are some of those words I seriously CAN’T say and napkin is one of them. I can’t get it out. So I did what any imaginative American would do, I invented a new word … napkino or the plural, napkini!

    .-= saretta´s last blog ..Gray Days =-.

  2. casalba

    I can really sympathise with this, but then I’m also guilty of not correcting my other half’s English when he makes little errors – it’s just too charming! (My worst error is “carne” and “cane” – I just can’t roll my “Rs”. I don’t eat dogs – promise.)

    Ha ha ha I made that mistake once, too. They made me fun of me for ages!

  3. Vanessa

    Che c’e! Get’s me everytime!! Have to really think hard before i write it. I have great problems with ce/ci and che/chi maybe because they are the exact opposite of english. Probably lots of other words that no one corrects me on either, but i don’t know about those ones!

    Oh yea, writing that is hard. I also have to stop and think about the “G” when I see a new word … like is that “G” like juice or “G” like Gus? Mah!

  4. Patrice

    Anything with the “gl” cluster in it: “gli”, “figlia”, etc. I have even gone to the extreme to avoid them when possible. For instance, “Ho tre bimbi”–and if anyone wants to know their genders, they are out of luck. Also, I took some serious ribbing from a Livornese friend of mine for the way I said “limone”. Apparently, I draw out the vowels too much, as a good southerner should. And with that I’ll say, “Buona notte, y’all”.

    I can so picture your “limone,” and FWIW, I think it sounds just fine. 😉

  5. Ha!!! Chiacchierare is one of my favorite Italian words, but I often miss one of the syllables. Also tavagliolo…comes out tavagl-yoyo….I just cant wrap my tongue around that one.

    Oh, don’t get me started on tavagliolo. I can NOT say that word.

    .-= carol´s last blog ..MISTRESS OF THE VATICAN =-.

  6. Adrienne

    Rather late to be posting this but I have only recently discovered your wonderful blog. I have been torturing the Italian language for some time now: my husband is Italian also. Years ago, I tried to introduce his cousin to someone and said: Meet my husband’s ‘kitchen’. Yeeesh! cucina vs. cugina. That, unfortunately, was not the end of what turned into a long trail of mistakes, not to mention the strange looks and snickers from his family. I must say that my Italian is much better now as we have been together for 32 years.

    Ha ha! FWIW, I hear Italians confuse kitchen and chicken all of the time! 🙂


    i used to confuse the word pezzo e mezzo!
    i love italian language, i only took three semesters at college because there weren’t more than three, i supposed to be intermediate but i don’t feel that “expert”, i still speak it with the best accent i can, i have not many ppl to speak italian with. I try to listen a lot of italian songs so i won’t forget the language. It would be a shame because i really think that’s the most beautiful language of all. What i don’t like (i do inside but i say i don’t to other ppl) is that when i speak italian i change my tone of voice, voglio parlare come una italiana vera, i’ve been told that i do look like italian which i don’t believe. And what i just can’t help is when i am mad dico parolacce in italiano so no one can understand me (or almost anyone) and i feel relief, la mia preferita ….ma che c*** vuoi? e S**zo! hahahah

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