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Hi,

1: I think Pacino in Al Pacino is pronounced like pa-chee-no. But Why don't we simply pronounce it as pa-see-no?

2: How do we pronounce Scorsese in Martin Scorsese? Is this

i: score-see-se

or

ii: score-see-ze

3: Why do we pronounce Sean in Sean Connery like shawn? I think rather it must be pronounced like cean like sen in senate or like seen.
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Comments  (Page 3) 
Thanks for the great explanation. You should be a language teacher!
I'm a high school junior, so i'll be talking from classroom experiences.  I'm in regular english and have completed 3 years of spanish.

No English is not a phonetic language.  Languages like Italian and Spanish have only one way of pronouncing each vowel, and then a written accent mark can modify them slightly.  (one reason english is so hard to pick up as a second language is we don't write accent marks)  English has many ways of pronouncing each vowel and the only way to learn them all is by growing up with the language or being around it for a long time.

For example, we add silent e's at the end of a word to emphasize the previous vowel. (As in like, have)  In spanish a word spelled 'have' would be pronounced something like hah-veh and like would be lee-keh. (i'm bad at phonetic spelling so sorry if that looks weird.)

also we have weird combinations of letters, like ight becomes ite, ought becomes ot, and tion becomes shun.

Have you ever noticed how people who are new to speaking english tend to mispronounce words no matter how hard they try, but if you go into a level 1 spanish class any english speaking kid who gives a decent effort will pronounce 95% of the words right?

Also, even native english speakers trip up on long words the first time they read them, often having to be corrected.  Sometimes even we don't know exactly how to pronounce a word because of the many convoluted rules of the english language.
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
interesting thread, thought I might add in some words

I'm a native French speaker, I'm good in English (been learning it for a decade), and I recently started learning Spanish

like said, Spanish and Italian are phonetic languages, where lettrers are generally pronounced only one way, and that makes them easier to learn, in my opinion

on the other side, English pronounciations for letters vary, but on the grammatical side, you don't have to systematically conjugate adjectives and verbs to each pronoun, because verbs variate with the pronoun used (I, you, he/she/it, we, you, they) in latin languages. so that makes English a bit easier

my native language is French, and though I don't consider it has too many secrets to me (at least compared to other languages), I think it's harder to learn than English or Spanish because both pronounciations and verbs (for conjugation) vary
its only spelled pacino because it looks cooler that way. lol
I don't know much about english pronunciation, but I do know a lot about Italian because I've studied it for many years, and that language is not so different than Spanish ( my native language)...so with that said, I wanted to make clear that Pacino is like you said ci=chee in cheese...but I desagree completely when you say that the two 's' in scorsese are different, they are pronunced the same, I don't know why you would pronunce the last one like a 'z', may be because for native english speakers is natural to say it tha way, but as an Italian student i have to say that there is no difference between those two 's'. But like Tanit said, it doesn't mind that much.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
AnonymousI don't know why you would pronunce the last one like a 'z', may be because for native english speakers is natural to say it tha way, but as an Italian student i have to say that there is no difference between those two 's'.
Sorry, Anon, but as a native speaker of Italian I have to say this is not quite right. Emotion: wink

As I wrote earlier in this thread, we do have two different sounds for the letter "s". Since you've studied Italian, you can check what I'm saying in this page from wikipedia , under the heading "consonanti semplici" ("simple consonants").
  • [ s ]: è la nostra s di sole. =>> [ s ] is our s in sole (=sun)
  • [ z ]: è la nostra s (non zeta) di rosa. >> [ z ] is our s (not zed) in rosa (=rose)
What happens with Scorsese is that the 1st and 2nd s's are pronounced as in "sole", and the 3rd as in "rosa".

But then, as others pointed out, Scorsese is American (although his surname is Italian), so this doesn't matter that much, does it? Emotion: smile
PS: I tried to upload an audio file, but it didn't work.
I have to experiment with the new feature. Emotion: sad
Now I'm lost......... I won't argue with you, of course you're right, you're a native Italian! but I need to know why is there a difference between those two 's', because they are both next to an 'e'. Besides, I don't get wich one is the 's' in 'rosa' that is diferent than the 's' in 'sole' but is not 'z' like in the word 'zeta' (please don't tell me that it sounds like 'th' in 'things', becuase - tell me crazy- I hate how that sounds)

I'll ask my teacher next time I see her 'cause now I'm intrigued!Emotion: stick out tongue
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
AnonymousI won't argue with you, of course you're right, you're a native Italian!
You can argue! Emotion: wink After all, Italian has many variants and I can speak only for mine. Emotion: smile

After doing some search on the internet, I've found this dictionary where you can listen to the pronunciation of rosa and to that of sole (just type one word in the box, click on the result and press the red arrow next to the phonetic trancription of the word in the pop-up).

I've also managed to find an easy list of rules to help you decide whether s should pronounced /s/ or /z/. This allows for an explanation of the pronunciation of the three s's in Scorsese:
  1. The first one is pronounced /s/ because it's at the beginning of the word (also, because it's followed by a c).
  2. The second is pronounced /s/ because it folllows another consonant.
  3. The third is pronounced /z/ because it's between two vowels. Beware, though! Unfortunately for learners, regional variants exist when s is preceded and followed by a vowel. Where I live and in Northern Italy, s between vowels is generally /z/, while in Southern Italy it is generally /s/. (quite funny, because I don't live in Northern Italy Emotion: big smile)
A thorough (and possibily difficult) discussion here .

(ops! This forum is about English, not about Italian! Emotion: wink)
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