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I'm an Italian learner and I'm new here, so tell me if I've posted in the wrong section :)

Recently, I've discovered that many people whose first language is Italian add final vowels to words when speaking English to make pronunciation easier. I had never noticed that before, but when I listened to my spoken English I realised it was true! I have tried to solve the problem, but I have been unsuccessful.

I've sought around the net for weeks, but I've found nothing related to this specific pronunciation issue.

Has anyone already dealt with this problem and can tell me how they did so? Or, does anyone know some tips? I want to correct my pronunciation because now I always notice when somebody makes this mistake and the feeling that you do it too is so frustrating.

I've already tried to speak the word first and the final consonant separately afterwards. That doesn't work; I add vowels even to isolated consonants.

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    I think it's highly commendable that you have noticed this and want to correct it. However, I should also say that we Americans find it endearing and even sexy. It's a hallmark of an Italian accent. Don't sweat it too much. :) – BobRodes May 25 '15 at 22:34
  • Well, I'll think of it too! – Alessandro Piccirilli May 26 '15 at 4:51
  • I struggled to fight it myself, as soon as I heard about it, and managed to get rid of it by paying attention to it over months of intensive work. The simple fact that you KNOW about it will help you a lot An accent is all good and fun (and makes for a great conversation starter), but we don't want to sound like a legion of Super Mario's :) – laureapresa Jun 14 '15 at 17:10
  • Me too, I've just begun... very difficult, but it mustn't be impossible :) – Alessandro Piccirilli Jun 21 '15 at 15:37
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With the dental, for example, in the word "eat", the back of the tongue is pressed up against the palate to partially occlude the airway, and the tip of the tongue is pressed up behind the front teeth. The vibration in the throat (the "voicing" of the vowel) must also cease immediately before the dental is produced. Otherwise the air from the voicing will be "plugged up" by the tongue and then be forced out "plosively" when you release the tip of your tongue, in a quasi-vowel.

With the dental, there should be a "closing off" by the throat muscles immediately before the final consonant is articulated. Having the back of the tongue pressed slightly up against the palate makes this closing off easier.

  • What about other sounds? – Alessandro Piccirilli May 25 '15 at 14:18
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    For the most part, the same principle applies -- the voicing of the vowel must cease prior to taking a mouth/tongue position that stops or partially restricts the air from exiting the mouth; otherwise the result is a plosive expulsion of breath after the final phone. It can happen with final vowels too: In "do", the lips for the final -U- sound partially restrict the airflow, and if the voicing continues while the lips are being retracted, the mouth produces do-uh. – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 25 '15 at 14:26
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    Focus your attention on the portion of the tongue at the back of your mouth. It, and the throat muscles, are involved in closing off the voicing of the vowel. – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 25 '15 at 14:29
  • What about voiced consonants? How can I say "made" if I stop voicing at the end? – Alessandro Piccirilli May 26 '15 at 17:51
  • The main difference in pronunciation between "mate" and "made" is an abrupt closing off of the vowel in "mate" and a gradual closing off of the vowel with "made". How is that gradual closing off achieved? The [e] vowel in both words requires the lower jaw to be thrust slightly forward; with "mate" the jaw remains thrust forward as the dental is produced with the tip of the tongue behind the front teeth; with "made" the jaw is retracted in concert with positioning of the (more relaxed) front surface of the tongue against the alveolar ridge... – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 26 '15 at 18:13
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My mother-in-law had that with some sounds. What I suggested, which worked, is to first use for practice a word where it matters; e.g. "big" which came out as "bigga" which sounds more like "bigger" than "big". The idea is to extinguish even earlier! Stop talking anf just move the mouth when you get to the /g/. Then, you can "fade out" during the final consonant rather than "following through" which naturally gives you another vowel.

Learn to turn off the voice while making the final consonant rather than having to complete it and follow through to a neutral sound before stopping. Learn/practice by stopping the voice for the entire final consonant, and then later letting that consonant start but then fade out.

For some sounds, the only difference between a consonant alone and a consonant-vowel is the length of the voice past the (tap/click/burst/whatever) that characterizes a non-vowel.

Second, look at the chart showing matching voiced/unvoiced choices. Turning off the voice turns /g/ into /k/. So think about /bik/ and get the feel for how it's formed without voicing. So turning off the voice starts with /g/ and make it half the normal duration, shifting to /k/.

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