I've been learning Italian for the last year. While being fluent in Spanish helps tremendously, there is one infamous sound that is lacking from both English and my dialect of Spanish: gli.
I understand that gli is a palatal approximate and that it is supposed to sound something similar to a Spanish 'l' and a 'y'. My understanding is, however, that it is to be pronounced as one consonant. The classic example for English speakers is to use the 'l' in million, but to me that's just a 'y'. Someone suggested that I try saying it like Botelli in Spanish, but that comes out as a double 'y' for me, which I know is wrong (honestly, -lli is odd for a Spanish speaker; In my dialect it would be a double 'y').
Basically these are my questions:
- Is this one consonant or is it geminated? When I think of the 'l' sound in million, to me, it sounds geminated. I distinctly hear an 'l', but I'm not sure if I'm mishearing it.
- How is the tongue positioned for this sound? I've been trying to pronounce it as an 'l' with the back of my tongue touching my soft palate instead of the tip of my tongue touching the alveolar ridge as it normally would be for 'l'. Is this correct?
- Am I correct that the 'gli' article is pronounced differently? In other words, if I were to say gli figli, are those two completely different sounds?
I'm not sure that I'll ever master this sound, but I'd like to try to improve it at least.