Learning Italian Phonetics: Dental Affricates’ Production by Irish English Speakers

  • Chiara Meluzzi (University of Milan)
  • Francesca Nicora (National University of Ireland, Galway)
  • Lucia Sbacco (Newcastle University)


This work investigates the production of Italian dental affricates /ts dz/ by Irish English learners at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Dental affricates are sounds that are difficult for non-native speakers to acquire, and they vary greatly across Italian dialects. Previous works on the topic have demonstrated that learners tend to reduce affricates to fricatives, and that the voiced /dz/ is often substituted with the voiceless in every context. This survey investigates the production of 7 speakers divided into A2 and B1 levels. Participants were asked to compile a background questionnaire and to read a list of 47 sentences containing 52 dental affricates in different phonological contexts. Phonetic annotation was manually conducted on PRAAT, and the analysis focused on durational cues and realization of voicing. The results showed that voiced affricates were rarely produced and were often substituted with their voiceless counterpart, thus leading to the general non-acquisition of voicing for this class of phoneme. Furthermore, the length of the occlusive segment was shorter than the fricative one, particularly in the post-sonorant context; a gap between the occlusive and fricative portion has also been detected. No substantial differences between the A2 and B1 levels emerged

How to Cite: Meluzzi, C., Nicora, F., & Sbacco, L. (2022). Learning Italian dental affricates: A first survey on the production of Irish English speakers. In J. Levis & A. Guskaroska (eds.), Proceedings of the 12th Pronunciation in Second Language Learning and Teaching Conference, held June 2021 virtually at Brock University, St. Catharines, ON. 

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Published on
14 Sep 2022
Peer Reviewed