Italian Language Nuances

The Italian alphabet:

A, B, C, D, E,

F, G, H, I, L,

M, N, O, P, Q,

R, S, T, U, V, Z.

Yes, there are some letters missing compared to the English alphabet.

Namely the  J, K, W, X, and Y.

“The letters J (I lunga ), K (cappa), W (V doppia or doppia V ), X (ics) and Y (ipsilon or I greca ) are used for loanwords only, with few exceptions”.


My Italian teacher who speaks perfect English made us laugh when she said she can’t recite the English alphabet, she knows there are the extra letters and she knows what everything is called in English but can’t remember where they slot in.

My Italian class.



Some loan words from English used in Italian are “jeans”, “ok”, “pyjamas” and “weekend”. You can tell they are loan words because they contain these letters not found in the Italian alphabet. They are still pronounced with Italian vowel sounds.

Other English words found in Italy are new words for us all and have become the norm globally such as “mouse”, “click”, “software”, “computer”, “chat”, and “blog”.

Because Italian letters are pronounced differently it makes for fun when saying some acronyms.

‘Pee chee’ for PC (or personal computer).

‘Tee Voo’ for TV.

There was a long period from Mussolini’s day where all foreign words were given an Italian name in an effort to protect and strongly maintain the Italian culture and not homogenise with other languages and cultures. “Italian words of foreign origin were censored and were replaced by brand-new words”. .


Donald Duck became Paperino “Lil’ Duck” and Mickey Mouse Topolino “Lil’ Mouse”.


I have had three Italian teachers now and all of them have renamed me Andreina, they just can’t have a girl named Andrea. Other classmates names that are no good have been Shannon, Ian, etc. All of us renamed,… Gianni, Stella, and the like.

     Andrea in NZ.                


Andreina in Italy.


I guess like all expats, sometimes the culture is maintained more rigidly on foreign shores than it is in the homeland. When I was last in Italy a cool and funky young Italian university student thought it was cool me being a girl named Andrea!

Having said that it wasn’t so long ago that a family was forced by court order to change their baby girls name from Andrea to a more acceptable name. “…the Italian Register Law forbids parents to give a boy a female name, and vice versa? In Italy, the name Andrea – a female name in many other countries – is well and truly a male name. So when a couple in Florence decided to name their daughter Andrea …the Florence appeals court changed the child’s name to Giulia. The couple challenged this in the supreme court, which delivered a landmark ruling in 2012, saying that the name Andrea is no longer reserved for males”

If we need to give a name to letters to ensure spelling is correct, (ie the Nato phonetic alphabet, alfa, bravo, charlie etc), in Italy they use Italian city names. My name would be: Ancona, Napoli, Domodossola, Roma, Empoli, Ancona.


And lastly, if you are wondering where Domodossola is…,+Province+of+Verbano-Cusio-Ossola,+Italy/@46.1390578,8.0216341,10z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x4785f11624978923:0xe1a82f52298219d1!8m2!3d46.113222!4d8.2919754



8 thoughts on “Italian Language Nuances

  1. I can’t say the Italian alphabet, either. Funny, but once you get past lower levels, no one asks you to recite the alphabet.
    Domodossola! I’ve been through the town on the train several times, but haven’t ever gotten out of the station. It’s on the Swiss border, and coming from Brig to the north you go through the famous Simplon Tunnel. Domodossola is in a very beautiful area called the Centovalli – it’s a spectacular train ride on a narrow gauge train to Locarno.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I never thought about trying to recite the Italian alphabet. That’s funny and I could not do it without stopping to think. I love the spelling with cities, too. I do that a lot BUT I often make creative substitutions much to the amusement of others.

    I know women named Jonnie and Jeff, but imagine a court order to change your child’s name! Great post, Andrea!

    Liked by 1 person

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