By "open" vowels I mean è and ò.

(Note: I am purposely adding the accents in words here to clarify what I think the right sound is.)

I noticed that words having an open vowel sound like mèdico and tòssico "become" a closed sound in derived words.

mèdico -> médicare and tòssico -> tóssicodipendènte

So I'm curious if there's any word with two or more è and ò (in any combination). My guess is "No", but I can't prove that, while you may be able to come up with a word to show that my guess is wrong.

1 Answer 1


In standard Italian it is impossible to have a word containing two open vowels, since all atonic vowels (that is, those occurring in syllables that don't carry a word's main stress) are closed. Hence, an Italian word may have at most one open vowel, and if so in its stressed syllable.

Se for instance Luca Serianni's Italiano (I.19):

Fuori d'accento le vocali si riducono a cinque, perché viene meno l'opposizione /ɛ/~/e/ e /ɔ/~/o/.

That is, “In unstressed syllables, the vowels are reduced to five [as opposed to seven in the full vocalic system], because the opposition /ɛ/~/e/ and /ɔ/~/o/ disappears”.

  • One can pronounce tossicodipendente with two tonic accents (so as two words), or with a secondary accent in the first part, depending on the rhythm of the sentence or on desired emphasis, but this of course doesn't invalidate your answer.
    – egreg
    Jan 26, 2023 at 15:57
  • Yeah, I thought tòssicodipendente sounds natural and is correct (open o in toss), but the digital Zingarelli I have clearly pronounces the first o as closed. This is why I posted here :) thanks DaG and egreg! Jan 26, 2023 at 22:02
  • Personally “tòssicodipendente” would sound to me a bit like a “tossico” (drug addict) who is a “dipendente” (employee) of someone, but composite words and their nuances are always tricky.
    – DaG
    Jan 26, 2023 at 23:01

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