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I have heard "fianchetto" for four decades now, and I have always pronounced it "fēənˈCHetō", but I have heard many people also pronounce it "fēənˈketō".

It is of Italian origin, so I am wondering if there are any Italians out there, especially natives, or anyone really, who can tell me what is the true, and proper, pronunciation.

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  • 8
    Do you want the " true, and proper, pronunciation" of the word in Italian, or in English? Note that neither language has a magic infallible oracle of pronunciation - you have to go by what people actually do.
    – AakashM
    Jan 24 '20 at 9:15
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    In Russian, it is transliterated into Cyrillic as фианкетто (fianketto) and pronounced with a /k/.
    – trolley813
    Jan 24 '20 at 9:19
  • Interesting question. I wonder how many chessplayers know or care that Budapest (a defense to the Queen's Pawn Game) is pronounced Budapesht? Or how to pronounce the Maróczy Bind?
    – bof
    Jun 22 at 21:14
  • budape[s]t seems OK because that city's name already has an Anglicised form. Likewise the Vienna Gambit. But we do know, I hope, that Pirc is pronounced peerts and not perk, right?
    – Rosie F
    Jul 25 at 6:29
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While I'm not sure exactly how "fēənˈketō" would be pronounced (I'm not a native English speaker), that's more correct as to the pronunciation of the "ch" (following the Italian pronunciation).

The pronunciation written in English would be something like fee-ahn-keh-toh, with the accent on the third syllable (keh).

I just found this website in which there are actual recordings of italian (I hope) people pronouncing it. It sounds pretty good to me.

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    Words borrowed from other languages generally change in pronunciation, so the Italian pronunciation isn't really relevant here. Though FWIW both Wikipedia and Wiktionary list either pronunciation as valid in English (with a normal "ch" as the primary one) Jan 24 '20 at 20:59
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According to Wikipedia:

In chess, the fianchetto (/ˌfiænˈtʃɛtoʊ/; Italian: [fjaŋˈketto] "little flank") is a pattern of development ...

Hence English speakers pronounce the "ch" as in "chess" and Italian speakers as in "kettle".

Which suggests that there is no "true, and proper, pronunciation".

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    +1 for using IPA. I have trouble even telling what the other answers are trying to get me to pronounce. Jan 24 '20 at 14:34
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In Italian, c is pronounced like English "ch" or "tsh" before "i" and "e" and like "k" (unaspired) before "a", "o", and "u". If you want it as "k" before "i" and "e", you add an "h" in between, if you want it as "tsh" before "a" (and probably the other dark vowels as well), you add an "i" in between that is not (or hardly) being pronounced.

Similar with "g".

So ciabatta is "tshah-baht-tah", giotto is "jot-to", Giuseppe is "ju-sep-pe", fianchetto is "fee-ahn-ket-to".

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Fianchetto is commonly pronounced in English as /fiænˈɛtoʊ/ (soft ch as in "cherry") but the original Italian word is pronounced /fjaŋˈketto/ (hard ch as in "chaos"). Note the word is cognate to English flank.

It is common for terms borrowed from other languages to take on 'erroneous' pronunciations if the inherited orthography is ambiguous e.g.

  • cherub (Latin: /k/; English /tʃ/)
  • pistachio (Italian: /k/; English /tʃ/)
  • bruschetta (Italian: /sk/; English: /ʃ/)
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When in Rome speak Roman.

They may say fi an Ket oh in Italy, but the rest of the world says fi an CHet oh.

Words change meanings and pronounciations over time and the majority usage eventually wins out.

I always have heard fi an Chet oh and that is how I say it.

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When in Rome speak Roman? Yes, "Let's REN-dezz-voose at the high sih-CHOO-ell (as in choo choo train)" I think if you're an American player below 2000, it really doesn't matter how you pronounce fianchetto. But, once you become a really good player, then do as the international chess community does. At the master level, the only proper way to ponounce fianchetto is to respect the Italian origin of the word and to say "fee-uhn-KET-toh". But, you're still free to follow MAGA rules and say "fee-uhn-CHET-toh" if it suits your fancy.

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