Italian Culture

How to Properly Pronounce Puglia

Puglia as in Puglia, Italy is pronounced poo·lee·uh. Why pronouncing Italian words with "gli" is tricky for native English speakers + tips to get it right.

Considering a trip to Puglia, Italy, and want to make sure you know how to properly pronounce Puglia before you go? Learning to pronounce Puglia correctly is important for a few reasons before visiting. First, Puglia is the Italian name while Apulia is the name for Puglia in English. So unlike many of Italy’s primary tourist destinations like Venice, Rome, and Florence which are known internationally by their English names, Puglia is more commonly known internationally by its Italian name. Second, although Puglia is growing in popularity as the perfect beach vacation in Italy among international tourists, it remains a staple for Italians. This means tourists rub elbows with Italians on vacation in Puglia. Who wants to sound silly saying Puglia wrong while in Puglia!

Proper Puglia Pronunciation

While the phonetic guide to proper Puglia pronunciation is poo·lee·uh the easiest way to learn how to pronounce Puglia correctly is to listen to native Italian speakers. This brief Puglia pronunciation video demonstrates how to properly pronounce Puglia. For those who really want to nail the proper pronunciation of Puglia, don’t miss the next two videos which share information about the “gl” and “the “a” sounds in Italian words.

For native English speakers, pronouncing Puglia is difficult due to the second “gli” syllable and the “a” at the end. The following video is from a native Italian speaker teaching English speakers how to pronounce Italian words with the “gl”. The tutor speaks in both English and Italian in the video which goes a long way to understanding “gl” words in Italian.

In short, the vowel following /gl/ in Italian is key. When /gl/ in Italian is followed by an /i/ as it is in Puglia, you get the Italian phonetic sound of /ʎ/ which in English sounds like /lee·uh/ but with a slight twist. Tongue placement is the detail that makes the difference when pronouncing Puglia.

In the video above (at 14:30) the tutor explains while pronouncing “gli” or /ʎ/ the tip of the tongue touches inside the bottom front teeth while the middle of the tongue touches the top of the palette making an arch. Air will flow over this arch and through slightly parted teeth and lips.

While the trickiest part of pronouncing Puglia correctly is the “gli” the ending “a” can also be tricky for native English speakers. The Italian “a” is pronounced differently than the English “a”. The vowel pronunciation video below is the final key to pronouncing Puglia correctly.

From my own personal experience learning to speak Italian while living in Italy, I can say, the vast majority of Italians appreciate it when native English speakers attempt their language. Even if the results are at times funny, the attempts are appreciated.

Italian is a beautiful, lyrical language full of complex rules that trip up native English speakers. Yet learning a few words and phrases before a trip to Italy can go a long, long way. So make sure you know how to pronounce Orecchiette correctly and how to pronounce Caciocavallo correctly, one of Italy’s most expensive cheeses. Both of which you’ll definitely want to eat in Puglia.

One thing Puglia is famous for in Italy is hospitality. So don’t be afraid, give it a go and pronounce Puglia with that vibrant “gli” /ʎ/ sound!

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