Word Reference's Italian dictionary gives the following pronunciations:

Is this correct? If so, is it usual that the pronunciation of a vowel of an adjective is different in the corresponding adverb with the -mente suffix?


I assume you are talking about the pronunciation of the E in the second syllable. The change from [ɛ] in [sinˈtʃɛro] to [e] in [sintʃeraˈmente] is completely regular and predictable, because "standard"* Italian pronunciation includes a rule saying that [ɛ] and [ɔ] are only possible in the stressed syllable of a word. When suffixation causes the stress to shift to another syllable, the formerly stressed [ɛ] and [ɔ] turn into [e] and [o] respectively.

If the stressed syllable contains a rising diphthong such as [jɛ] or [wɔ], sometimes the entire diphthong is replaced by [e] or [o] when the syllable becomes unstressed. But other times the glide remains, as in the diminutive cuoricino [kworiˈʧino] from cuore [ˈkwɔre]. (The form coricino is apparently archaic or dialectal.) Unlike the change of [ɛ] and [ɔ] into [e] and [o], the loss of the glide element of the rising diphthongs [jɛ] and [wɔ] in unstressed syllables is not an automatic or exceptionless process in modern Italian. (I recently read a paper that tried to find patterns to it, but I don't remember right now exactly what it said.) I can't think of a -mente word where a diphthong is converted into a single vowel; I only mentioned this type of alternation because it is somewhat related in a more general way to the topic of your question.

*Note: The concept of a "standard" for pronunciation is rather tricky. Unlike spelling, which is about the use of discrete letters, pronunciation involves sounds, which can vary on a continuous basis. I'm just using "standard" to refer to the rules of pronunciation that are commonly described as standard, or taught to learners.

  • 3
    Just to mention some cases where the /jɛ/->/e/ and /wɔ/->/o/ transformation of the dittongo mobile sort of applies: siedo/sedere (infinitive); piede/pedone, pedale, ...; nuovo/novità; suono/sonante, sonoro, ... (but, in contemporary Italian, suoniamo etc.); tuono/tonante and so on. – DaG Sep 5 '19 at 8:35
  • Thanks for the answer! In case it interests anyone, the same phenomenon does not happen in Brazilian Portuguese. "sincero" and "sinceramente" are respectively pronounced /sin'sɛru/ and /sinsɛra'ment͡ʃi/ (or /sinsɛra'menti/ in some regions). – Alan Evangelista Oct 5 '20 at 22:46

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