Common Italian Words That Are Often Mispronounced by Americans

There could be a mini-dictionary of Italian words that people have unintentionally Americanized, but, help is on the way.

By: Rachel Vadaj, ISDA Editor 

Bruschetta. Tortellini. Versace.

These three words are included in any Italian American’s vocabulary. But are you sure you’re pronouncing them correctly?

Most likely, you are amongst the majority of people who have unintentionally Americanized the way these words are supposed to be pronounced.

Thankfully, there is a quicker way to correct yourself that doesn’t involve watching hours of Italian movies or chefs on cooking shows.

There are a series of patterns in Italian words that Americans change. Once you know what the common mistakes are, you’ll be able to correct most of your mispronunciations.

We often replace the double “t” in words such as “bruschetta” with a “d.” This makes the word sound like “bruscheda.” If you listen to other tables in an Italian restaurant, you may hear that “d” sound with spaghetti, ciabatta, and prosciutto.

Just remember to pronounce the “tt” and you’re already on your way to sounding more like an authentic bilingual.

“Tt” is also a double consonant, which means it is pronounced separately in the Italian language. For example, you would pronounce it as bruschet-ta. Likewise, “tortellini” would be said as tortel-lini.

Another must is learning how to correctly pronounce the “e” at the end of an Italian word.

Donatella Versace will be the first to correct you on how her and the iconic fashion house’s name should be pronounced. One of her biggest pet peeves is when Americans say “Versace” with a hard “e” at the end. Americans tend to do the same with “salame,” and “minestrone.”

Marco, from YouTube’s “Marco in a Box,” offers up a quick guide to get American pronunciations back on track:


Share your favorite recipe, and we may feature it on our website.

Join the conversation, and share recipes, travel tips and stories.