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Italian Baby Names
Part 2: Pronouncing Italian Names
 Italian Baby Names
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"Why do most Italian immigrants to America born with the name Vincenzo use the name James in America?"
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Britney Rossi, Brad Esposito
The common given names of Italy today are all derived from names borne by saints recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. In the Middle Ages there was a comparatively wide repertoire of Italian names, including an extensive group of Germanic names of Lombard origin (Adalberto, Adalgiso). Some of these have given rise to surnames, but most of them are no longer in use as given names. Vocabulary phrases intended to invoke a good omen (Benvenuto "welcome," Diotiguardi "God preserve you") were also formerly used as given names in Italy.

Many different dialects are spoken in Italy, and the sense of regional identity remains strong. Regional influences, therefore, such as the veneration of local patron saints, are prominent. For example, Romolo is a typical name of the Rome area; Brizio is more or less limited to parts of Umbria. Naming traditions, though, have succumbed to the popularity of entertainment figures, sport stars, and mass media personalities. Literary, religious, and historical names have fallen out of favor, replaced by the celebrity name del giorno.

Pronouncing Italian Names
If you know how to pronounce Italian words, then pronouncing Italian names should be semplice. Usually, Italian common names are stressed on the next–to–the–last syllable. In Southern Italy and Rome first names often get cut where the stress falls—to be more precise, at the first stressed vowel. This is a typically (Southern) Italian usage. So if you're Michele, a Roman could turn to you and say "Ah mMiche', che t'è sartato in mente de fa' er gaide der Forum?"

Speaking to a man named Paolo, a Neapolitan might say: "Uhìì, Pa'! Che bella facc' e mmerd' ca ttiene!" Note that the stressed syllable is PAO but the stress is on the first vowel in the diphthong. Similarly, Catari' (for Caterina), Pie', Ste' (for Stefano), Carle' (Carletto), Salvato', Carme', Ando' (for Antonio) and so forth.

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