Novice Italian-language speaker here, so apologies for the elementary question, which is as follows.

What is the difference between pronouncing (e.g.) the words Puglia and Pulia (contrived)? I ask because it seems that Italia and Itaglia (contrived) are seemingly pronounced the same – is this the case?

As another example, what's the difference betwixt pronouncing imbroglio and imbrolio?

EDIT: My issue is that the words figlia and Italia sound the same, whereas Modugno and moduno (contrived) are clearly different.

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    The “gli” sound is quite difficult for foreigners, but really distinct from “l”. Some Italian people are not able to pronounce “gli”, but would never substitute “l” for it, they'd rather use something similar to the “l mouillé” of French.
    – egreg
    Jul 2, 2019 at 23:31
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    The following link may be of help: How to Master the “R”, “GN” & “GLI” Sounds in Italian - icebergproject.co/italian/2014/03/…
    – user519
    Jul 3, 2019 at 5:45
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    Welcome to Italian.SE!
    – Charo
    Jul 3, 2019 at 7:49
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    If this may help, the “l” sound in “lio” is an alveolar lateral approximant, while the “gl” sound in “glio” is a palatal lateral approximant (but the audio sample of the latter in the Wikipedia article is realised in a different way than how Italian uses it).
    – DaG
    Jul 3, 2019 at 10:18
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    “the words figlia and Italia sound the same”: “glia” and “lia” do not at all sound the same. The pair “gno” and “no” is a good comparison, though, since here too the former is, broadly speaking, the palatal version of the latter.
    – DaG
    Jul 3, 2019 at 18:12

1 Answer 1


Partial answer, which does not address "how to learn to pronounce them" (for that, it would probably be best to find a guide/course/book aimed at your particular source language, in your case English, since the best way to learn how to pronounce them may be different depending on which language you come from).

They are definitely two different sounds. There are minimal pairs between them, for instance olio / Oglio.

In IPA, gl -> /ʎ/ (often geminated /ʎʎ/), l -> /l/, the dialectal variant of gl mentioned by @egreg in a comment -> /j/.

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