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I've been taught that in Italian an "i" after a "g" is silent and only serves to mark the "g" as having a soft ("j") sound. But in my study I came across bugia and others like strategia, magia and regia in which you can definitely hear the i (links are to forvo's site). Google Translate also has these pronounced that way.

Can someone explain the rule to me? I searched without success.

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  • On first thought, I think you always pronounce the “i” in the cluster “gia” unless there are a few exceptions. parolecon.it/search.php?f=gia – user519 Feb 29 '20 at 12:40
  • @Gio: It would be interesting to ascertain, numerically, whether in a majority of cases you pronounce the i, or you don't. Just think of such common words as alloggiare, appoggiare, arrangiare, artigiano, assaggiare, atteggiamento... (and those are only examples beginning by a). Than again, in your favour, there are at least all the words in -logia. – DaG Feb 29 '20 at 12:50
  • Related question: italian.stackexchange.com/q/6593 (duplicate?) – Charo Feb 29 '20 at 16:10
  • @Charo I agree that the questions cover much of the same territory. I did my best to search, but didn't find that one. – Tony M Feb 29 '20 at 18:39
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    From your examples, the rule seems to be that if other (western) romance languages have "gia" (or "gie"), the "i" is pronounced. Otherwise, it isn't. In fact, even comparing with English cognates gives some clues. – Pere Feb 29 '20 at 20:50
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The rule you mention is correct, but only when the i is not stressed. So, in words such as grigia, frangia, mangiare and so on, the i is indeed not pronounced per se, but only denotes that the g that precedes it is pronounced [ʤ] rather than [g].

On the other hand, when the i is stressed, it is pronounced normally, while still conferring the sound [ʤ] to the g.

The same holds of course for gio: in peggio (stress on e) you don't pronounce the i, in leggio (stress on i) you do.

Rather than Forvo or, even worse, Google Translate, it might be better to just check such things in any actual dictionary, which at very least shows where the stress is in any given word. See for instance the entry magia in Treccani dictionary.

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    thank you, but I don't know the rule for when "i" is stressed. Is there a rule for this? – Tony M Feb 29 '20 at 12:52
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    Unfortunately, there is no fixed rule (sometimes it has to do with the word's origin, but not reliably): that you have to check on a dictionary. There are similar words with different stress, or even the same word may have different meanings with different stresses: regìa (directing) and règia (feminine of regio, royal). – DaG Feb 29 '20 at 13:25
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    You say there is no "rule" to know when the "i" in gia is pronounced UNLESS you already know how to place proper stress on Italian words. ("Unfortunately, there is no fixed rule...you have to check a dictionary"). I conclude that my original question has no answer for a non-native speaker. – Tony M Feb 29 '20 at 17:18
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    That's right, @TonyM, and be assured that occasionally even native speakers stumble on some rarer word. – DaG Feb 29 '20 at 17:27
  • @DaG Each time I hear “l'italiano si scrive come si pronuncia” I get goosebumps. :-) The fact that “gi” can be a digraph like “ch” is not even mentioned in primary school. And the rules prescribe “giù” where there's no diphthong at all (not that I propose to remove the accent, of course), for uniformity with “più”. – egreg Mar 2 '20 at 11:23

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