GL sound in Italian

The GL sound in Italian is a consonant cluster. How do you pronounce GL in Italian? Read on to find out.

How to pronounce GL in Italian

GL can represent two different sounds depending on the letter that follows it.

GL
GL sound

GL has a palatalized L sound (IPA symbol /ʎ/) when followed by the vowel I.


GL in Italian as a palatalized L

There’s no such sound in English, so listen closely to the examples. I will then give a few tips to reproduce this sound.

It is interesting to note that it is impossible to pronounce this sound as a singular sound. It will always sound double, which is reflected in IPA transcriptions (/ʎʎ/).

Examples:

Foglia, moglie, tagli, scoglio, pagliuzza
(/ˈfɔʎʎa/, /ˈmoʎʎe/, /ˈtaʎʎi/, /ˈskɔʎʎo/, /paʎˈʎuttsa/)
Leaf, wife, cuts, cliff, blade of straw

a green leaf

Italian pronunciation tantrums: palatalized GL sound
Are you struggling to pronounce GL in Italian?
The dirty trick to pronounce it is to smile when you’re pronouncing an L sound.
Officially, you should position your tongue as if you were saying L. Say the sound. Keep saying it while you lift the middle part of your tongue against the roof of your mouth as if you were pressing your tongue against it. This is your palate – this is why the sound is said to be “palatalized”.


GL in Italian as a hard sound

GL has a hard sound (/g/) as in glass or glee when followed by any vowel but I (A, E, O, U).

Sigla, inglese, gloria, gluteo
(/ˈsigla/, /inˈgleze/, /ˈglɔrja/, /ˈgluteo/)
Intro theme, English, glory, gluteus

woman working out

Length of the GL sound

When hard, GL in Italian can be single or double.

Italian pronunciation tantrums: what’s up with those double consonants?
These double consonants are called geminates. English uses them only in the written language: a word like tabby, as in tabby cat, is pronounced as if it were actually “taby” and not as “tab-bee”.

Italian geminates, on the other hand, are longer in quality than single consonants, as if they were “doubled”.

Not all Italian consonants can be doubled.

It is double when it’s written as ggl. You won’t find a double consonant at the beginning of an Italian word, but always in the middle, and the ggl cluster is quite uncommon. For example…

Agglomerato
(/agglomeˈrato/)
Conglomerate

Listen closely. The “ggl” sound in agglomerato is double and has a longer sound.


Other Italian words with GL in Italian

Aglio
(/ˈaʎʎo/)
Garlic

Paglia
(/ˈpaʎʎa/)
Straw

Glaciale
(/glaˈʧale/)
Icy

Bagaglio
(/baˈgaʎʎo/)
Suitcase

Caviglie
(/kaˈviʎʎe/)
Ankles

Deglutire
(/degluˈtire/)
To swallow

old man swallowing pills

Your turn!

Pronounce each given word.

Easy


Hard


What next?

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