According to a book I read ci is pronounced chi. I don't know if it's my hearing but why do I hear sh in the TV show Gomorra? Is there an sh regional variant maybe?

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    Can you link to a specific example of audio with this pronunciation? "ci" and "ce" can be pronounced with a short "sh" sound in some regional varieties of Italian (e.g. Tuscan). – Pax Apr 23 '20 at 4:40
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    It looks like "sh" is a variant that exists in the Neapolitan language also. That might be relevant to your example since it looks like Gomorra is set in Naples – Pax Apr 23 '20 at 4:46
  • Welcome to Italian.SE! – Charo Apr 23 '20 at 6:37
  • By “chi” do you mean “chi” as it would be pronounced in English (for instance in “chill”)? – DaG Apr 23 '20 at 7:46

The standard pronunciation of Italian ci (unless there is a s before it) is /tʃi/ (which is approximately like the initial sounds of English word “cheap”). In some regional variants (Tuscany, Lazio, parts of Southern Italy) it is quite usual to pronounce it, only when it follows a vowel, like /ʃi/ (the initial sound of “sheen”, say).

The same applies to ce (standard pronunciation with /tʃ/, regional pronunciation after a vowel with /ʃ/).

The regional sound is similar to that which in standard Italian is denoted by sci (or sce), the difference being that in the latter the /ʃ/-sound, after a vowel, is geminated (i.e. stronger, doubled). For instance, the standard pronunciation of the word pece (“pitch”, the substance) is /'petʃe/, its regional pronunciation can be /'peʃe/, while the word pesce (“fish”) is pronounced mostly everywhere /ˈpeʃːe/ (also denoted /ˈpeʃʃe/).

  • Are you sure about the last sentence? I think that in Northern Italy (i.e. above the La Spezia-Rimini line) the sound /ʃ/ is normally not geminated (certainly not in my pronunciation) – Denis Nardin Apr 23 '20 at 14:30
  • @DenisNardin: I'm not sure of anything. :) Do you pronounce pesce /'peʃe/? I never heard anything but /ˈpeʃːe/, but I can't vouch for the whole of Italy. I'm not at all a fan of Forvo but, just to be sure we are saying the same thing, all of those are geminated pronunciations: forvo.com/word/pesce/#it – DaG Apr 23 '20 at 15:05
  • I don't want to be too assertive, but I can certainly do two pronunciation, one with the /ʃ/ stronger than the other, and my normal one is the weaker one. Mine is probably closest to the one by Nottedinverno in Forvo. Remember that geminate consonants do not exist in the regional languages of Northern Italy and that when Italian was taught in school after the Unification people improvised their pronunciation based on the written form, so often non-indicated geminates were not geminated in the regional pronunciation (the case of zs is emblematic). – Denis Nardin Apr 23 '20 at 15:19
  • I see. To my ear, Nottedinverno's is still a geminated pronunciation: you should hear how a Roman says “pece”... :) – DaG Apr 23 '20 at 15:27

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