Syntactic Doubling

In standard spoken Italian, many words cause the initial consonant sound of the following word to be doubled. This phenomenon is typical of Italian pronunciation and is called "syntactic doubling" (raddoppiamento sintattico) or phrasal doubling..

The following words cause a syntactic doubling :
- all stressed (strong) monosyllables
- many unstressed (weak) monosyllables
- all polysyllables stressed on the final vowel (with a written accent mark)
- some bisyllables

In Italian dictionaries (e.g., Zingarelli, published by Zanichelli), the phonetic transcription of such words is followed by an asterisk (*). For example, the phonetic transcription of the conjunction "a" is /a*/. This means that "a presto" ("see you soon") is pronounced exactly like "appresto" ("I prepare").

On the contrary, "re Carlo" ("King Charles") and "recarlo" ("to bring it") are pronounced in two different manners, because the word "re" (/re*/) causes the doubling of the following initial consonant sound. "Re Carlo" is pronounced /rek'karlo/.

Weak monosyllables (such as articles; unstressed personal pronouns; "ci", "ne" and other particles; etc.) do not cause the doubling.

Italian spelling does not indicate the doubling except when two words have combined to form a new one, as in E + COME = ECCOME, FRA + TANTO = FRATTANTO, CHI + SA = CHISSA'.

Syntactic doubling usually occurs in standard pronunciation of most speakers in Central and Southern Italy. In Northern Italy, where there is a tendency to ignore double consonants in general, it is less noticeable.

See the examples below. See also "Espressioni omofone scritte diversamente".

Word causing
syntactic
doubling
Example Word causing
syntactic
doubling
Example
A a presto FA fa presto
FRA fra noi FU fu felice
TRA tra voi E' è tardi
SU su Roma PUO' può fare
O o lui GIA' già fatto
E e lei PIU' più vicino
TU tu sei LA' là sotto
SE se vai LI' lì sopra
MA ma no SI' sì signore
NO no davvero NE ' né noi
TRE tre mele COSI' così tardi
RE re Carlo PERCHE' perché mai
HO ho fame MANGIO' mangiò tutto
HA ha freddo ANDRA' andrà via
SO so tutto FARO' farò tardi
SA sa l'ora DIRO' dirò tutto
DO do sempre SARA' sarà troppo
STO sto male COME come noi
STA sta là QUALCHE qualche volta
VA va via MI (note) mi minore
CHE che fai? QUI qui sotto
CHI chi sei? QUA qua sopra