Ì a èt i àe I è ìe i àe

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According to "10 scioglilingua bergamaschi (con tanto di guida all’ascolto)", Prima Bergamo 8/162018, the standard-Italian phrase sequence

Andate a vedere le api? Sono vive le api?
Go see the bees? Are the bees alive?

come out in Bergamasco as

"Ì a èt i àe?" "I è ìe i àe?"

According to Wikipedia,

The Province of Bergamo (Italian: provincia di Bergamo; Lombard: proìnsa de Bèrghem) is a province in the Lombardy region of Italy. It has a population of 1,112,187 (2017), an area of 2,754.91 square kilometers (1,063.68 sq mi), and contains 243 comuni. Its capital is the city of Bergamo.

Evidently there are a few more consonant deletions in Bergamasco than in standard Italian.

For another example, Standard Italian

"Voi, dove andate?" "Io vado all’uva (alla vite). E voi?" "Io vado a vino."

corresponds to Bergamasco:

“Ù, u if?” “A ó a öa. E ù?” “A ó a ì”

See the linked article for more… though to be fair, they should give equal time to examples of standard Italian tongue twisters that are untwisted in Bergamasco.

[h/t Andrea Mazzuchi]


  1. Andreas Johansson said,

    October 30, 2020 @ 7:59 am

    My late grandfather was fond of the sentence I å ä e ö "In the river is an island" (Standard Swedish: I ån är en ö, though I ån är det en ö "In the river there is an island" would sound more natural to me).

    [(myl) Can you provide us with a recording? (In your voice, of course, given that your grandfather is beyond the reach of Zoom…)
    Here's what Google Translate's Swedish synthesis thinks it should be:


  2. Phillip Minden said,

    October 30, 2020 @ 8:17 am

    That's a dialect of Lombard, though, not of Italian. But I concede the difference doesn't add a single consonant to the phrases in question.

    Andreas, this is the default phrase to contrast with Czech Strč prst skrz krk, which works better on people who aren't fussy about the concepts of vowel or vocalic.

  3. Robert Coren said,

    October 30, 2020 @ 9:49 am

    One of my freshman roommates claimed to have encountered the French sentence Papa a à aller à Aha ("Papa has to go to Aha"), which presumes the existence of a town named "Aha", bearing in mind that h is not normally pronounced in French, so the name would be essentially two a's separated by a glottal stop.

  4. bororo said,

    October 30, 2020 @ 10:12 am

    "so the name would be essentially two a's separated by a glottal stop"

    No glottal stop needed, [a.a] would work fine in French (at least that's how A-ha is pronounced (the band's name).

  5. Joke Kalisvaart said,

    October 30, 2020 @ 11:35 am

    A nice sentence with hardly a consonant in Dutch: Aai uw ooi (pet your (formal) ewe).
    Google translate pronounces it correctly if you type it like this 'aai. uw. ooi'.

  6. Phillip Minden said,

    October 30, 2020 @ 11:49 am

    Robert, not even a glottal stop. Anyway, referencing places in Hawai'i and the MArquesas Islands, resp,, Papa a eu à aller à Aiea ou à Eiao, hein?

  7. David L said,

    October 30, 2020 @ 12:45 pm

    A long time ago I came across a phrase in London English, something like "yagayonya" (apologies for my ignorance of IPA).

    The translation into standard English is "have you got any on you?"

  8. Michael said,

    October 30, 2020 @ 2:32 pm

    Years ago, someone pointed out on an Austrian comedy show that “so me too, after all?”, „also doch auch ich“, can be much more succinctly expressed in the Carinthian dialect of Austro-Bavarian (though it also works in my native Tyrolean, and in Upper Bavarian, and I suspect in almost all varieties Austro-Bavarian) as „a e i a“. It takes four glottal stops to make this work, though.

  9. Y said,

    October 30, 2020 @ 3:21 pm

    I imagine the Cockney pronunciation of "I got to put a lot of hot water in a lot of little hot water bottles" would be nice. Alas, I don't know any native speakers to ask them for a demonstration.

  10. Christian Weisgerber said,

    October 30, 2020 @ 4:44 pm

    Pile-ups of three or four vowels aren't remarkable in French:

    Y en a pas un en haut ? /jɑ̃napaɛ̃ɑ̃o/
    Mais on va où au fait ? /meõvauofɛt/

    (Examples from http://research.jyu.fi/phonfr/14.html, part of Guide de pro­non­cia­tion française pour apprenants finnophones.)

  11. David Marjanović said,

    October 30, 2020 @ 6:12 pm

    It takes four glottal stops to make this work, though.

    No, no glottal stops at all! "Glottal stop" is not the fancy way to say "nothing". Glottal stops are what northern Germans insert in the vowel clusters of Luise: [luˑʔiːzɵ]. Up South we only use glottal stops as the voice onset after a pause; in northern and central Germany they put one in front of every stressed syllable that would otherwise begin with a vowel.

    [aˈɛɪ] "oh, so it is me, conforming to my hopes or cynical expectations"
    [ɪˈɛa] "it is me, too, after all, conforming to your hopes or cynical expectations"
    [aˈɛɪa] "oh, so it is me, too, after all, conforming to my hopes or cynical expectations"

    ah, eh ich; ich eh auch; ah, eh ich auch – or, to be properly Standard, replace eh by ohnehin or something.

    the Cockney pronunciation of "I got to put a lot of hot water in a lot of little hot water bottles"

    Loʔs of gloʔʔal stoʔps in thaʔ one: I goʔʔa puʔ a loʔʔa hoʔ waʔer in a loʔ of liʔʔle hoʔ waʔer boʔʔles.

  12. Chips Mackinolty said,

    October 30, 2020 @ 9:10 pm

    In a tribute to Australian artists Colin Little and Aleks Danko, I recreated their famous "Laughing Wall" from the Tin Sheds in the early 1970s. In English, it read as a series of multi-coloured posters with the word HA … thus the laughing wall.
    [ https://archivesonline.uow.edu.au/nodes/view/6143 ]

    In Palermo HA would be read as third person singular of avere, the verb to have.

    So I rendered it as AH AH AH AH AH AH etc.

    Passers by still laughed, in Italian, and it sounded much the same!

    [ https://alicespringsnews.com.au/2018/10/18/street-life-celebrated-in-street-art/ ]

  13. Monscampus said,

    October 30, 2020 @ 10:18 pm

    @David M.

    What do you mean by *up South*? As I live up North you surely are somewhere *down South*? ("And when they were up, they were up and when they were down they were down")

  14. Peter Taylor said,

    October 31, 2020 @ 4:00 am

    @Monscampus, in place names "Upper" generally means "on higher ground". So upper Germany is the south, towards the Alps, and lower Germany is the north, towards the coast.

  15. David Marjanović said,

    October 31, 2020 @ 6:55 am

    Yes, I was trying to allude to Upper, Central and Low German. High German ( = Upper + Central) is spoken where the land is high, like High Lithuanian, and unlike High Vulcan and High Valyrian.

    Don't worry, in real life I identify north with up as much as anyone else in Western culture.

  16. Benjamin Massot said,

    October 31, 2020 @ 9:06 am

    I teach French in Southern Germany, and there is need of learning to avoid insertion of a glottal stop, not only after a pause.

    As training sentences I use

    Papa a à aller à Arles ‘Dad had to go to Arles’, with 4 [a]s without a break: [papaaaaleaarl]

    Léon a eu à y aérer ses chaussettes ‘Léon had to his socks there’, with 8 vowels in a row, still without any glottal stop nor any glide ([i] does not become [j]): [leõayaiaereseʃosɛt]

  17. Rodger C said,

    October 31, 2020 @ 10:59 am

    Then there's the tale of the Englishman who addressed a letter to Arijaba. The Postal Service, it's said, delivered it correctly to Harwich Harbour.

  18. Andreas Johansson said,

    October 31, 2020 @ 2:30 pm


    The synthesizer's take isn't bad as far as the vowel qualities are concerned, but the intonation is odd. I can't provide a recording in a hurry.

    @David Marjanović:

    I'm inconsistent about whether I travel "up" or "down" to my parents' place. It's somewhat to the south (and rather more to the west) of where I live, but also on noticeably higher ground.

  19. Y said,

    October 31, 2020 @ 7:28 pm

    David M.: the haitches are glottal stops, too, in Cockney (as I imagine it at least). It is non-rhotic as well.

  20. Leo said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 4:37 am

    Cockney doesn't have glottal stops for aitches, it just deletes them. Otherwise Mickey Flanagan's joke about asking an American lady if he could "come in her house" wouldn't work (Cockney also monophthongises the vowel in "house" to a long version of the "trap" vowel).

  21. Julian said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 5:07 am

    In Greek

    fisai o aeras (fee-sah-ee o ah-eras) – five consecutive vowels; 'o' = a short O as in Br Eng 'not'

    = 'the wind is blowing

  22. TonyK said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 6:10 am

    Hungarian has the 5-syllable word _fiaiei_, meaning _(those (pl.) of or belonging to his or her sons._ For instance,

    Azok a férjének az ingjei? Nem, azok a fiaiei.
    Are those her husband's shirts? No, they're her sons'.

    This is not at all a contrived example!

  23. Philip Taylor said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 6:25 am

    I would transcribe Y's multiple-glottal-stop example somewhere along the lines of the following. It is not pure Cockney, but a merger of Cockney, South London and Estuary English (i.e., the dialect of non-standard English with which, as someone born in South-East London, I am most familiar).

    /aɪ gɒʔə pʊʔə lɒʔə ɒʔ ˈwɔːʔə ɪn ə lɒʔə ˈlɪʔɫ ɒʔ ˈwɔːʔə ˈbɒʔɫz/

  24. Misha Schutt said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 7:12 am

    A few years ago I devised a little Spanish tongue twister:
    No lo dio a Eulalia, sino a Eugenio.

  25. Robert Coren said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 10:36 am

    Re geographical "up" and "down": My impression is that Americans tend to go "up" to the country and "down" to town, but the British go the other way (or at least they did in the early part of the 20th century, to judge from such examples as the novels of Dorothy Sayers). My further impression is that the usage of "upper" to mean "on higher ground", as applied to large regions, is specific to Germany (or German-speaking ands in general), but I might be wrong; certainly in the US it is trumped by the North-South distinction.

    The perception I have of the first example above may be influenced by the fact that both my parents' summer place and mine were/are north of the corresponding winter/city residence.

  26. Philip Taylor said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 12:08 pm

    Robert — "upper" (meaning 'on higher ground') is also attested in British placenames: an obvious example is village of Upperthong, which is on higher ground that the adjacent Netherthong.

  27. Y said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 4:01 pm

    @Philip Taylor: thanks a lot! That's about what I'd heard it as in my mind, except that I'd imagined glottal stops for /h/ (of which @Leo has now disabused me), and that I'd imagined "water" with a higher, rounder vowel, like wo̝ːʔə.

  28. Philip Taylor said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 7:21 pm

    You may be right about the vowel sound in "water", Y — I confess that I did not pay particular attention to the vowels, as it is the consonants (or the lack thereof !) that is the most obvious feature. Living in Cornwall, as I now do, it wouldn't be too easy for me to carry out a listening test …

  29. Jerry Friedman said,

    November 1, 2020 @ 8:54 pm

    Misha Schutt: My version of that is Dáselo a María o a Eusebio." Maybe there's a way to work ahí into that.

  30. Andy Stow said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 1:45 pm

    A set of phrases I learned while living in Tennessee (from locals I worked with, they're quite able to make fun of themselves.)


    Did'ja eat yet?
    Let's go eat.

  31. Andrew Usher said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 9:27 pm

    Apparently, those 'phrases' (jokes) are present many places in the US, while I don't believe those maximally slurred pronunciations are actually that common anywhere.

    To the point: Isn't the insertion of a glottal stop between vowels rather a continuum? You can't merely say that you use or don't use them; doesn't the very word 'hiatus' imply some boundary? Two [a] sounds with no hint of stoppage are identical to a single long [a] – is that principle really true of all the examples mentioned? The sound clips in the post do sound like they have stoppage in a few of the possible instances (or could that just be stress and tone?).

    I may be biased by my own language, which doesn't like consecutive vowels (unless you count diphthongs – in languages that have no such bias, can you really distinguish diphthongs from sequences of vowels?). and prevents their ever occurring within a morpheme by linking glides, which also occur between morphemes whenever possible.

    k_over_hbarc at yahoo.com

  32. Hubert Lamontagne said,

    November 3, 2020 @ 2:53 pm

    Les mauvais perdants au Scrabble… (Quebec accent)

    "Oh y'a eu un I et un A, et oui en haut y'a un U, on y a haï (l)a haie en haut ouain, on (v)a y huer un « Houuuh! » ou y huer un « Hé OH! »."
    /ɔjɑyœ̃ieœ̃ɑ, ewiãojɑœ̃y, ɔ̃iɑaiaɛãowɛ̃, ɔ̃ɑiyeœ̃uuiyeœ̃eo/

  33. Chas Belov said,

    November 4, 2020 @ 3:52 pm

    In American English I think we tend to add "Heights" for higher-up places (although there is "Upper Darby" near Philly, which apparently is about the same elevation as the neighboring Lower Merion). In San Francisco, we have a Bernal Heights. Bernal Heights has a low area on Mission Street, now supposedly called La Lengua, which I have for years and years referred to as Bernal Depths. Although Bernal Depths is rare, I am not the only one to come up with this usage.

  34. Robert Coren said,

    November 5, 2020 @ 10:26 am

    When I talked about geographical "up" and "down" above, I was not thinking so much of place names as of colloquial direction of travel.

  35. Robert Coren said,

    November 6, 2020 @ 11:03 am

    And sometime this morning while pretending to sleep I realized that it's more complicated than I thought. The largest city in the state of New York is in the southern corner, and the region north of it is called "upstate" (there's apparently disagreement about how far west "upstate" extends, but that's another story). The largest city in Illinois is in the northeastern corner, and the bulk of the state (all that is not in the orbit of Chicago) is called "downstate". This suggests that northness and southness is a factor in the terminology.

    Not so in the British usage I cited earlier; given the geography, it's pretty much certain that there are/were more "country estates" north of London than south of it, but London ("town") is always "up".

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