Monday, October 15, 2007

Italian food words- pronunciation

A lot of people out there mispronouncing Italian food and wine words. Some of them are of Italian origin. I hear that the Sopranos do this. Of course, no one is likely to correct them and their ilk. Pshaw!

In the interest of the betterment of humanity, a never-ending task, here is a list of common words and their approximate pronunciation for English speakers. At a later date, if I am so disposed, I might make an audio file of these. Not today.

bruschetta (broo-SKETT-ah)

gnocchi (NYOH-key) (-ny sound of "canyon")

calzone (cal-ZOH-neh) all words ending in -one end in the -ohneh sound, and do not rhyme with the word "own." This includes provolone, mascarpone and minestrone.

caprese (cah-PREH-zeh)

bolognese (boh-loh-NYEH-zeh), not "boh-loh-NYEZ."

prosciutto (proh-SHOOT-toh)

penne (PEN-neh) all words ending in -e end in an English -eh sound, not English -ee sound.

Pinot Grigio (GREE-joh) not GREE-gee-oh, the letter i is there only to make the letter g soft.

Chianti (KYAN-tee) again, a diphthong - the word only has two syllables.

radicchio (rah-DEEK-kyo), finocchio (fee-NOK-kyo)-diphthongs!

braciole (brah-CHO-leh), not bra-CHOLE, bra-ZHOLE or bra-CHEE-ohleh

Parmigiano-reggiano (PAR-mee-johnnoh REJ-johnnoh). Do not say "Parmejohn," "Parmezhan," or "ParmeZAN". Either say it in Italian or English (PAR-me-sahn).

ricotta (ree-COHT-tah)

pasta e fagioli (eh fah-JOH-lee)

mozzarella (mohz-zah-REL-lah). Do not begin the word with a "mot" but a "moe" sound.

If you wish to review the relatively simple rules of Italian pronunciation, see this post.

Why do you hear so many atrocities? Ignorance. Presumption. In many cases, Italian-Americans who picked up dialect or Americanized dialect and thought they were speaking standard Italian (which is the dialect of Tuscany). The New York Times has an amusing article on this.

I will update this post as new attacks on the Italian language become known to me. Is it any wonder that Dante always looks so cross?