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Neapolitan Primer

Final vowel sounds[edit]

Neapolitan words can end either stressed (with an accent mark) or unstressed. As a general rule, words ending with a stressed vowel (called "acute" words) have the last vowel pronounced.

The ends of many unstressed words are pronounced as a schwa (ə); that is, it sounds as if the final vowel is being swallowed. This has led to Neapolitan often being written with many words ending in consonants followed by an apostrophe-

  • facenn' for facenno ("doing"), sacc' for saccio ("I know") etc.

Generally, all words ending in "a" have the last vowel pronounced, though less strongly than as would be the case in Italian.

  • còzzeca ("mussel"), varca ("boat"), mammà ("mother").

The "d" and "c" situation[edit]

The letter "d" is often pronounced as an "r", such as r"o for d"o ("of the" or '"from the") or arrò for addò ("where"). Similarly, the letter "c" is often pronounced as a soft "g" sound, as in the English "god". For example, ncoppa ("on") is frequently heard as ngoppa. As a result of this difference between the classical written word and the spoken one, words are often written straight out with an "r" or a "g" rather than the traditional "d" or "c". This can be the cause of some confusion.