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End Vowel Ommission in NJ Italian Restaurants

Over the last view years I have seen this trend in Italian Restaurants in the NJ area where I live to omit the end vowel of some ingredients and dishes. (And maybe it was always there and I just started to realize it recently). So I'm by now accustomed to hearing "Proscuitt" and "Mozzarell".
The waiter in a Milburn Italian place yesterday however took this concept to a whole new level. The "Rigaton Salsicc" where funny but it become ridiculous or hilarious (depending what your stance is towards lingustic creativity) when the tuna special was announced with "Broccol and mashed potat" (pronounced like "potate").
I'm not sure if our waiter was serious or just making fun of this trend. I was tempted to ask him about the "Penne Vodka" to see what he would have done with that. You certainly can save pronoucing a lot of vowels that way.
Anybody else having a funny story or an opinion on this?

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  1. You must not be a native! I recently had the same discussion with some friends, and the consensus was that most of us that grew up in NYC and NJ in Italian families had the same pronunciation ingrained in us.

    1 Reply
    1. re: irishnyc

      Absolutely. I grew up in the 70s with "mootzadell," "prooshoot," and "gabagool." Just like they pronounce everything in the Sopranos.

      And it wasn't just the Italian-Americans. My Italian-born grandfather pronounced food this way too. And the Italian owner of an Italian restaurant we used to go to on Arthur Ave in the Bronx did too.

      Now it's hard because my sister moved to Italy ten years ago. In Florence at least, they pronounce every letter properly. I feel like an idiot if I slip up and say moozadell.

    2. My husband's family is from NJ and I've learned to pronounce words sans the last vowel. Well, after my FIL asked what was in my lasagna, and I said ricotta, mozzerella etc....and he looked at my as though I just committed a crime against cheese!! ;)
      So, now it's rigot, mutzerell, gabagol, soprasot, proscuit.........

      1 Reply
      1. re: monavano

        LOL!... It looks so funny in print!. That's the way the Lower East Side Italians spoke. If you spoke that way, no self respecting father would let you date his daughter! Most people now pronounce ALL the letters, though I do occasionally hear the 'gabbagool' pronunciation.

      2. Tony Soprano recently ordered a gabbagool sandwich.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Ellen

          Having just returned from two weeks in Italy I find this very amusing as final vowels are certainly not omitted in italian speech there.

          1. re: seal

            Thank you for stating that. I'm from New England and NONE of the Italo-Americans that we know drop the final vowel of Italian words. ( Without wanting to offend anyone, I may also say that it is considered not good form to drop that vowel.)

            1. re: Gio

              I grew up in SW CT and also lived in Quincy, eating often in North End and Federal Hill in Prov. I heard plenty of "mannagot", "gabbagool" and "mortadell" in both areas. Nothing quite as ridiculous as the OP (never heard "cannol" or "raviol" and they don't use "mootz" in Boston), but plenty of dropped vowels on some words just the same.

              However, Stamford/Bridgeport is just about as bad as North Jersey in this regard.

              1. re: Panini Guy

                I'm thinking that the dropped vowel thing may be a corruption of the Sicilian dialect, which is almost a language unto itself. OTOH I may be wrong; it just could be a cultural thing in certain localities.
                Again, certainly not wanting to offend!

                1. re: Gio

                  I think you're right. I grew up in upstate NY, and my Sicilian grandparents pronounced things that way.

                  1. re: Gio

                    My grandparents are from S. Italy (Naples and Bari), met in Brooklyn, and later moved to Spring Valley NY. They drop some vowels on some words, but not on others. I know my grandfather did business with a lot of Sicilians. "Mozzarell" "Mortadell" but then "lasagna" "rigotta" "cannoli" "strufoli""maccheroni"- strange. My uncle that came over later actually has the same pattern, and he speaks fairly standard Italian. Capicola we never had, anyone know where that originates?

                2. re: Gio

                  It's a Joisey thing...but they do it in Philly too.
                  I have an Ital/Amer friend in the W Philly Suburbs who puts "rigot and mozarell" into her lasagna. Hmmm...she does pronounce it "lasagna". Interesting..

                  1. re: Gio

                    Funny- I am not of Italian heritage- but grew up in the Boston area. One of my SIL is third generation Italian, and her dad always drops the vowels. I always just chuckle to myself. Don't remember anyone dropping the vowels when I was in ROme, though.

                    1. re: macca

                      that's because up until recently everyone in Italy (minus the Florentines) spoke their own regional dialect. Sometimes this is so distinct as to be essentially a different language, which seriously hindered literacy rates. Only relatively recently have young people and the educated started to speak standard Italian (which is Florentine dialect) in casual conversation. This is because Italy was separate little states under France, Spain, the Vatican, and others until the 1860's, and so the concept of "Italian" as a language is fairly new.

              2. I'm originally from New England, where it's also common practice to drop vowels, but not to the extremes done in Jersey. It was several years after moving her before I realized that "I-O" was "aglio et olio", but I'm now talking like a native (almost)
                BTW: Oops--you added a consonant to omission......

                3 Replies
                1. re: johnpm

                  And I'm originally from northern NJ, now living in the Boston area, and I grew up saying "prezhoot" and "mozzarell" and "manigawt" and "brezhoot". Now I put the ending vowel where they belong. I just didn't know better at the time.

                  Of course, up here in the Boston area, I'm living in the land of the Missing "R's" after the letter "A". But you know what? Those "Rs" show up on the ends of words that end in the "uh" sound: http://www.boston-online.com/wickedpr...

                  Being the daughter of a speech/English teacher and the granddaughter of two English teachers, I'd have to say the Boston-area accents are more frustrating to me. But I do love knowing when I'm speaking to a native New Jerseyan. I kinda miss that accent every once in awhile. :-)

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    Lots of Bostonians put an r at the end of vodka- When I was in Ireland, a bartender at a pub we visited was surprised when he found out I was from Boston, as I there is no R when I say Vodka!

                  2. re: johnpm

                    We frequented most of Providence's old-time Italian restaurants, where my father was a big fan of aglio et olio pasta. He pronounced it "alya-olya." I still have no idea how to say that.

                    At the market where I worked after school a guy once hand-wrote a sign for "Bresuit" and another for "Supersard."

                  3. no one has mentioned the classic vowel displacement: "abeetz" = pizza.

                    Also: manigawt = manicotti

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: Bob W

                      I hear calzone here in Florida rather than the correct pronunciation which is calzonay

                      same for minestrone (ending pronounced like own)

                      1. re: smartie

                        And, let us not forget about those who insert an "N" into words that are not spelled that way. Whether I hear it said or whether I read it on a menu, it drives me to distraction to hear/see "RollaNtini", as in Eggplant Rollantini. Most likely this is not even a legitimate word in Italian to begin with, but adding an "N" where it does not belong just adds to the general atmosphere of illiteracy that is so pervasive nowadays.

                          1. re: smartie

                            Just curious. How does one add an "n" sound to avocado? I shudder as I await your reply...

                            1. re: smartie

                              And "marscapone" rather than "mascarpone" cheese, which I have heard not only average folks but also some Food TV chef say, though I forget which one.

                              1. re: veryveryrosalind

                                Sandra Lee is notorious for that,. But worse, I even heard Michael Chiarello say it, too.

                                1. re: veryveryrosalind

                                  I used to watch a show on PBS called Capril's Cafe'... and this chef Capril used to say 'chipole-tee' all the time instead of 'chipote-lay". I have seen commercials for fast-food joints who serve chipotle burgers pronounce it 'chipole-tee" as well. All one has to do is look closely at the spelling.. Drives me crazy.

                          2. re: Bob W

                            I'm guessing abeetz is for "la pizza," the way "arugula" (not standard Italian, if any Italian at all) would be for "la rucola".

                            I still haven't met any Italians who have ever heard of manicotti, much less manigawt.

                            I don't even want to say how far down the thread I read before I realized gabbagool was capocollo (it is, isn't it?).

                            1. re: mbfant

                              "Abeetz" is how New Haven (Connecticut) Italians traditionally pronounce "apizza". The word "apizza" is not a case of vowel displacement, or syllabic misdivision, but simply a standard alternate form of "pizza" in the Neapolitan language of the late 19th century. The b-p phonemic merger, like the g-c phonemic merger, was common in 19th century Neapolitan, as was end vowel dropping, leading to the "abeetz" pronunciation.
                              New Haven Italians also call the cheese on pizza "scamotz", which most people seem to think is a variant of "mozzarella", but this is not the case. It's a variant of "scamozza", the Neapolitan variant of "scamorza", actual mozzarella being rare on pizza.

                              1. re: mbfant


                                If you need help with translations, I'm born, raised and still live in New Jersey!

                            2. My in-laws are from Somerset County, New Jersey and they all drop the final vowel on their spaghett', zit', and so on. I read some time ago that it's a regional Italian thing their families brought with them, similar to the casual North American pronunciation that drops the final g from a verb.

                              1. there's nothing you can do but move. I can't tell you how many times I would read a special and then have customers repeat words like "proshute" or "calamad" back to me as if I were the crazy one.
                                Once a friend corrected my pronunciation of "ricotta" claiming it is properly pronounced "ri-GUT".

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: nc213

                                  It is really remarkable. I really don't care that they mispronounce the words but they'll stop traffic to take the time to 'correct' people who do not share their errors. Hilarious!

                                2. Indeed, many old Italian dialects (from mainly southern, rural Italian regions), not only dropped the final vowel, but often added that vowel to the front of the word ("apizz" being a good example of this). In areas of this country with high concentrations of descendants of southern Italian immigrants, these somewhat exaggerated, yet essentially accurate, manners of pronunciation persist and, in certain cases such as the much-quoted Sopranos vernacular, manage to permeate pockets of society. Ironically, today there are many more people in this country who speak that way than there are in Italy!

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: vvvindaloo

                                    These things tend to be especially true among the less "educated" segments of any society, which would include the vast majority of the pre-war immigrants who were mostly working class/laborer/artisan types. A friend of my mother's is Sicilian (born there, came here young), but education was a big deal in her family and NONE of them pronounces Italian like the "classic" Brooklyn or Jersey manner, even though they actually lived in Bensonhurst (until they up and moved to Staten Island, not exactly known for its "pure" Italian either.)

                                    But you're certainly right about Italy and dialects. Until mass media became common after WWII and "standard" Italian became the norm countrywide, you could, so I hear, find yourself speaking an almost different language for every 50 miles you travelled in Italy, pronunciation and vocabulary varied so wildly among the different areas, let alone major regions...

                                    1. re: vvvindaloo

                                      Exactly! I was waiting for someone to write this! My grandmother was born in Cosenza, Italy, immigrated here at about and 5 and learned to speak English at about ages 7 to 10. I was raised to pronounce many Italian words with no vowel at the end. About 8 years ago or so when we took my grandmother to Italy she was able to speak the language somewhat, but not fluently. Her explanation was that she didn't speak "Italian" she speaks "dialect." To this day, she still has trouble understand the "universal" dialect.

                                      1. re: vvvindaloo

                                        My mother's father-in-law came here from N Italy many years ago. He still speaks Italian fluently and always pronounces all the ending vowels to these words. He actually has a bit of a bias toward what many of us think of as "Italian", i.e., the Sicilian descents that we see on Sopranos. There is definitely an attitude that they are more "working class."

                                        On a personal note, I'm annoyed to be corrected by people who speak this way. I usually tell them that, when I was in Italy, all of the vowels were pronounced. I am fine with your family teaching you to pronounce it this way - it's part of your culture. However, there is more than one culture in Italy and I'm more comfortable pronouncing the words with the vowels.

                                        1. re: amyvc

                                          Actually, it was mentioned in at least one episode that Tony Soprano's ancestors were Napoletani.
                                          Sicilians spoke a very different language (prior to the unification of Italy, not so long ago), and their regional speech remnants, even here in the U.S., are quite different.

                                      2. Interesting article in the NYTimes a few years ago on just this subject.


                                        1. What you are hearing is the bastardization of the language that is the result of 1) the fact that most New Jersey Italian Americans no longer speak fluent Italian, and 2) Their ancestors and families, who did speak Italian in previous generations, were most likely part of the the immigration wave of the early 20th century that consisted largely of laborers and their families seeking a better life in the United States. This group came here to build buildings, railroads, and excavate subway tunnels, and were largely uneducated or under-educated workers who never spoke proper Italian to begin with. When I studied Italian in school, my mother insisted that I was learning (last vowel omitted) "Alt Italia" (Alt for Alta), which translates into "High Italian", or the Italian of the upper class or more educated strata of society. Although Italian was her first language, she had difficulty conversing with neighbors who were recent immigrants from Rome who also spoke "Alt Italia", probably due the fact that they were well educated. She called her own version of Italian a dialect, but I think the difference is more basic than that. I think the problem is that the original Italian spoken in many of these pockets in New Jersey was full of slang, bad grammer and mispronunciations to begin with, and now it has become mangled by third and fourth generation Italian Americans who don't speak the language at all. BTW, I find this also to be the case in the Bronx, Brooklyn, the Port Chester area and lower Connecticut as well. This is where many families ultimately settled. It is not something you hear when listening to recent immigrants.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: RGC1982

                                            you should look into the history of the Italian language, Italy, and dialects. see my post above.

                                          2. What really drives me crazy is when I ask for provolone (using correct Italian pronunciation) anywhere in the country, I get: "Oh, you mean provoloan?"

                                            1. In anticipation of one day traveling to Sunny Italy, I've been and still am learning to speak some 'standard' Italian. One rule about standard Italian is that every letter in a word be pronounced. That said, what one hears from the " tutt' Amerigan " is a corruption of even the dialectic Italian originating from isolated areas of the 'Old Country.'

                                              My late mother-in-law traditionally made a dish called 'oogie ah' for Christmas Eve when it was necessary to fast on that night. I have asked people of Italian heritage if they knew what that was. So far, no one has had the correct answer. The correct pronounciation is 'olio e aglio' or 'oil and garlic.' If you never heard or eaten this peasant dish, it is a form of spaghetti or linguine dressed with garlic sauteed in olive oil. My wife's grandparents emigrated from Petilia Policastro in the province of Crotone in the region of Calabria, and from Potenza in the province of the same name in the region of Basilicata.

                                              I cringed when I heard capocolla called 'gabagool' on the Sopranos altho I understood to what Tony referred. I cringe when I hear our grandchildren refer to cavatelli as 'gabadeel', the pronounciation they hear in South Philly from my son-in-law's mother.

                                              But, what do I know, my genes originated in another European country?

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: ChiliDude

                                                My first FIL was from Naples and lived in NJ. He dropped all of the vowels as well so I, of course, thought this was correct. Now I know it isn't as we're planning a trip to Italy and I'm doing the on-line lessons. I was in my favorite Italian place the other night and the waiter (we've known them for a looong time) corrected my Grazee to Grazeeay. He, of course, knows I'm going to Italy but never said a word before lol!!!

                                                1. re: Linda VH

                                                  Having grown up in Brooklyn in a first-generation Calabrese fmaily where dialect was always spoken but where final vowels not regularly dropped, a couple of observations. Most Italian-Americans trace roots to the Italian south--Naples, Puglia, Calabria, Sicily, Basilicata, Abruzzo-Molise. In some of these regions--Naples, most prominently, but also Basilicaat and Abruzzo--last vowels are clipped and cut in popular speech. In fac, the dialect word for Neapolitan itself is pronounced "o napulitan'", and tomato, or " pomodoro" becomes " o' pummarol' ". Still. And given the historic preeminence of Neapolitans in Italian-American culinary (and cultural) life, it's not a mystery that their very distinctive dialect ended up as a generic form--over the generations, much corrupted and changed, but with identifiable templates. Sicilian is much different, less sing-song, as in Godfather II. Dialect heritage also involved different vocabularies, too, but these are harder to sustain--e.g., parsley is "prezzemolo" in standard Italian, and "petrusinu" in Calabrese and Sicilian. Similarly, celery moves from "sedano" to "acciu". Then, of course, there's the US regional issue, but that's another discussion. A 'natra storia.

                                              2. My husband went to school with a guy from NJ who was very insistent about the "proper" way to pronounce Italian food words.

                                                I'm still tying to convince DH that it's not necessary for a Wisconsin-born boy with Irish blood, living in South Carolina, to say managot and rigot *grin*

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: danna

                                                  My college roommate who was South Conneticut Italian-America always insisted that the "correct" way to pronounce everything was to drop ending vowels. Although I'd never been to Italy and didn't grow up in a place that was a bastion of Italian culture (Nevada), deep in my heart of hearts I knew that couldn't be right. I felt completely vindicated the first time I travelled to Italy (to Genoa, Pisa, Florence, Rome, and Venice, so all in the North), and I heard all of the ending vowels.

                                                2. It's an interesting study in how the dialect of some parts of Italy merged into the dialect of some parts of the US. It may not be "proper Italian," but people speaking in English in NJ aren't expected to be using "proper Italian" anyway...heck in a lot of ways it barely qualifies as proper English...even for American English!

                                                  In a sense, though, I like it. I kind of enjoy trying to navigate the cultural idiosyncracies of knowing that at home I'll sound like a tourist if I say "Pro-SHOOT-oh" but in other places I'll sound like a tourist if I say "Pro-ZHOOT."

                                                  The original story is kinda funny. Certain "really Italian" words always get this affectation. The waiter using it for ANY WORD that ends in a vowel...that's amazing. I hope he was not being serious.

                                                  I have a friend from South Philly who is VERY Italian and loved to really harp on these pronunciations. I used to really exaggerate the "correct" pronunciation just to drive him nuts. "Hey did your mom make that es-cah-ROLL-ay?" and he would say "Ska-DOO! Ska-DOO! It's pronounced "Ska-DOO!"

                                                  There's also an Italian dish that I did not make for a long time because I could not figure out how to spell it to look for a recipe. One day I was at my Italian butcher and I noticed a sign that said "Bracciole" and something finally clicked in my mind - that's what everyone around here calls "bra-ZHOLL"!

                                                  It's kind of ironic when you consider that "proper Italian" is, for the most part, a pronounced-exactly-how-it-looks language that has been over-complicated :-)

                                                  1. I think I read all replies, and I'm suprised that no one came up with "pasta fazool"(as sung by Dino Martino in "That's Amore"). It's the classic slang for pasta fagioli of course. I love that one. As previously replied, in most Italian urban areas they pronounce all the letters. Italians are very proud of their beautiful (singsongy) language.

                                                    1. jfood from NJ here. What's the biggie with the left off vowel. Jersey people are the most efficient speakers in the world. We condense four syllables to three, we perfectly understand each other and the food arrives wonderfully prepared and exactly as ordered.

                                                      Anothe example is walking into a grocery store and looking for the aisle for cereal. In most parts of the country, you approach someone and ask, "could you please tell me which aisle I can find the cereal?" In NJ you approach the same person and say, "cereal?" He knows what you want, tells you "five" instead of "aisle 5" and life goes on.

                                                      Do NJ'ers call it a submarine sandwich, nope, it's a sub. hot dogs are dogs, hamburgers are burgers (or slyders where jfood grew up), a slice of pizza is a slice, and a whole pizza is a pie. do not ask for a toasted corn muffin, just say toasted corn, on and on.

                                                      so jfood appreciates the efficient use of the english language to describe foods, but maybe that's jfood's exit 136 mentality.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                        exit 145 agreeing completely. growing up, i would use these affectations to ensure not being denied the fantastic home cooked grub of many an Italian mom or grandma.

                                                        i don't care if it's managaut or manicotti as long as it makes its way to my plate.

                                                        and i never expect my Italian friends to this day to properly pronounce karsha varnishkas...

                                                        1. re: harrison

                                                          hopefully from 145 you went either

                                                          - east 280 to route 1 south to spiritos in Elizabeth. Oy vay could they make a good la-zan,
                                                          - west 280 to SO or Shor Hills/Livingston for a sloppy joe, and not that manwich crappola.

                                                        2. re: jfood

                                                          Yeah, ditto for Exit 129 here. It drives me CRAZY to hear people in Minnesota ask about "rih-KAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH-duh" cheese. "AAAAAAAAGH!" I scream mentally, "just say 'ree-GAWT'!!"

                                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                            I wish some SF Italian-Americans would chime in here. I don't recall the vowel truncation in Italian restaurants there in my childhood. Maybe I'm just misremembering, though.

                                                        3. lots of variations on accents and pronunciations

                                                          I hear Americans pronounce a croissant as crossant (emphasis on the t) the french obviously say it cwuson (no r and no n sound at the end). I have heard nicoise (the s is pronounced in french and also the c is soft) as nikoys.

                                                          and then there is of course tomato and tomaydo.

                                                          1. I speak this way all the time & really felt like stabbing someone with a fork the first time I was "corrected" in a non-Jersey location, but I quickly learned to let it go... At work they call me a yankee and love to hear me say certain words (and I'm in the food business and often have occasion to say "MUTZA-RELL" ) if only to get a few laughs.
                                                            Typically it's at it's worst when I say gabbagool, mortadell, ree-goat, preejewt, bitza-gain, Saw-sege/Sauce-EETCH, etc... but even when I say "dawg" for dog and "draw" for drawer...... is that strictly ny NJ influence or just a lazy mouth?!?!

                                                            1. Thank you all for the very good read.
                                                              And it 'splains why some of the cooking words I picked up in New Orleans are so hard to find in cookbooks.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: shallots

                                                                Sorry - that's Grazee - eh. ; )

                                                              2. I'm sure that some of the pronunciations I've read about here are legitimately Italian (as in, used in Italy); likewise, some are probably just the result of new generations of Americans further mangling the language of their ancestors. When I hear these final-vowel-dropped pronunciations, though, I don't think of them as Italian, but as American (or Italian-American or Philly/New Jersey/New Yorkian). Omitting vowels completely changes the rhythm of the language, and Italian minus a bunch of vowels just doesn't sound 'Italian' to me. Perhaps Neapolitan and other dialects are actually pronounced this way, but they do not sound iconically Italian. I've heard Neapolitan spoken once. It was on Italian satellite tv, and I understood much more by reading the subtitles in standard Italian (yes, subtitles!) than I did by listening to the spoken word.

                                                                What baffles me about this whole phenomenon is that it seems that people's experiences are that they are looked down upon or afraid they will be looked down upon if they do not use these non-standard (and, to me, non-Italian) pronunciations, e.g. gabagool and bruh-zhoot (or one of its alternatives). While these pronunciations may have some roots in reality, I'd imagine that a majority of Italian-Americans using them (and 'enforcing' them) do not actually speak Italian. (And I wonder how many of them have even set foot in Italy!) What gives?

                                                                1. This has nothing to do with the cluelessness of New Jersey people.

                                                                  These pronunciations are simply how the natives here -- I live in Jersey -- render the dialect words passed down by their grandparents. Depending on where you were from in Italy at the turn of the century, the word for garlic, "aglio," could be pronounced like anything from "eye" to "aggo" or "adzu." I think that national TV and the Internet are eroding those kind of regional differences in Italy, though more slowly than in other parts of Europe.

                                                                  By the way, calling a pizza "a pizz" is perfectly grammatical in the language of Naples. The "a" isn't vowel displacement. It's the feminine form of the definite article -- it means "the" in the local language there, instead of the "la" from Standard Italian.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: foodmonk

                                                                    Also, omitting the final vowel in words, especially ones ending in -o, is very common all over Italy. Venetian surnames, for example, can be easily identified because they often end in a consonant.

                                                                    1. re: foodmonk

                                                                      This is true. The trouble is most Americans do not realize that most countries have only existed for a few hundred years. These countries generally do not speak a homogenous language. For example Bavarian and Frisian are two languages that are Germanic but are almost impossible for the different people to understand. Most of these countries have a standard which usually derived from the language of the area of power. For example "modern" French is based upon the dialect spoken in Paris. Other areas of the country speak a French dialect or language like Occitan but they are not as easy to understand. This scene pretty much plays out in every European country, Italy in particular.

                                                                      The Italian nation is a relatively new one as there really was not one unifying presence since the Roman empire. Since basically all of the Romance languages are local variants of mispronounced Vulgar Latin, they are all subtely and not so subtley changed forms of the original language. Since languages generally have greater diversity closer to the source than they do once they spread(thing of the genetic diversity inside of Africa for humans versus outside) the languages spoken throughout the land we call Italy are very diverse.

                                                                      So as others have said, most of the Italian immigrants to the Northeaster US came from southern Italy where they tended to pronounce things differently than in Rome, Venice and the north. Throw in the fact that these people were generally uneducated(which leads to a further change in language structure) and you have the "mispronounced" words of Italian Americans today.

                                                                      Class distinctions and lack of higher education has much to do with language change and formation. Just look at the residents of the Northeast for example. My parents were both children of immigrants but they grew up in Manhattan which has a much less severe accent than the rest of the boroughs. I in turn went to good schools as did my sister and neither of us have much of a New York accent. However I have been accused many times of not even being from NY by the bridge and tunnel crowd because I lacked the typical NY accent. We were both from NY but prnounced words completely differently. This is baqsically the same idea as language formation in Italy just magnify the time, distance and lack of cohesive political nationhood.

                                                                      1. re: MVNYC

                                                                        Venetian is VERY different from standard Italian - not only lacking end vowels but not doubling most consonants. Standard Italian is not northern, it is central - specifically Tuscan and especially Florentine. Much modern Italian, especially as spoken in the centre-south and south, is "lingua fiorentina in bocca romana" - Florentine as spoken by Romans - the film and later the TV studios were in Rome.

                                                                        I can't understand a lot of that Jersey Italian - there is certainly dialect here (in Montréal) but it would never be written that way. Perhaps because most Italians here are trilingual at least they are fussier about language; also a lot of Italians here came from the centre-south (Abruzzo and Molise) rather than the "deep south". I have interviewed old people from Calabria and while they definitely speak a dialectical Italian, it is not as caricatural as what you report.

                                                                        Remember that down in Argentina there is also a local dialect combining the Italian dialect spoken mostly in Genoa (many Argentines hail from that and nearby Northern regions) with local Spanish, of course.

                                                                        1. re: lagatta

                                                                          I was not trying to lump Venetian with Roman and other dialects of Italy, I was trying to say that Southern Italian is different than that in other regions which are all different. Sorry if it didnt come across that way

                                                                    2. As someone fascinated both by food and by linguistics, I find this thread a tasty read.

                                                                      I have a theory about the prefixing of a vowel to a word beginning with a consonant, as in "apeez" for "pizza". Some languages can accomodate fewer consonants clustered than can others. If a speaker of an Italian dialect is given to dropping the final consonant in a word, s/he might append a 'compensatory' vowel to a word beginning with a consonant, to make the syntactic unit utterable. Just a thought. Time for my gabagool sangwich.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: hungry_pangolin

                                                                        Correction: I meant to write "If a speaker of an Italian dialect is given to dropping the final *vowel* in a word", not "consonant". Apologies.

                                                                      2. I absolutely agree. I'm not Italian, but I've studied the language and it makes me a little crazy. We went to an Italian festa last weekend in Schenectady, NY and had the following:

                                                                        Gallamahd wid mahdinahd: "Calamari with marinara"
                                                                        Gannoles: "Cannolli"
                                                                        Shfoyadeal: "Sfogliatelle"
                                                                        Gavadeal: "Cavatelli"

                                                                        You get the picture. They speak Italian like they speak English; and I don't find it limited to Italian-Americans nor to NJ. I don't remember the chef nor the cookbook, but the chef went to work in a restaurant that had a number of native Italians in the kitchen and started using American-Italianese- apparently they straightened him out right away.

                                                                        1. There seem to be a number of disturbing threads running through this thread.

                                                                          First, going all the way back to the original post, what FoodFetish has encountered is called a dialect. A regional american english dialect, not an italian dialect, so it makes little sense to derisively compare it to the italian heard in tourist restaurants in Rome. Equally, it makes little sense to call for an "end" of it. Funny stories about people's dialects always seem to tell more about the person telling the story than they do about the dialect.

                                                                          Anyway, it seems like it would be more chowhoundish to put together a nonjudgemental glossary of terms, either for visitors to NY or viceversaly for people like me who left NY and now have no idea how to get a gabbagol sandwich.

                                                                          So a start:
                                                                          bra-zhoot -- prosciutto
                                                                          fa-zool -- fagioli
                                                                          hot pie -- pizza
                                                                          gabbagol -- capicola (?)
                                                                          mutzarel -- mozzarella
                                                                          bra-zhool -- bracciole

                                                                          What else do we have?

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                            I'm not so sure there;'s anything disturbing here. The pronunciations FoodFetish heard are the legacy of Italian-American speech in the NE United States, shaped by all of the forces mentioned in various posts above. You'll never hear this accent in Italian settings in San Francisco, Chicago, or St.Louis, for example. The words are Italian, not English, their pronunciation sourced from neighborhoods old enough so that many CH posters probably never had a chance to hear them in their natural context, where we were all nonjudgmental. Sure, it's charming and amusing to hear but I wonder if the time is really passing for this dialect as something other than a stagey performance. Some key words remain lingua franca regionally, but at a time when the deli guy slicing your suppressat' (soppressata) is more likley to be from Nicaragua than from Naples, and half the pizzerie are owned by Albanians and staffed by Mexicans, who knows?

                                                                            1. re: obob96

                                                                              The disturbing parts are words like "hilarious" and "amusing" and the notion that somehow immigrants were not speaking "italian" and the idea that we need to "end" this.

                                                                              The people using these words haven't been from Naples for nearly three generations; they're from Peekskill and Staten Island. It's not performance, and it's not an accent. It's just what the stuff is called. It will stop being called that when enough people stop calling it that. That's what languages do all by themselves. And then we'll have to deal with how pronouncing bracciole "just like real italians in italy do" has certain elements of stagey performance itself.

                                                                              Count the number of posts here that imply wrongness rather than interestingness.

                                                                            2. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                              DId I misread the OP? I didn't see a call to "end" anything. I thought he/she was simply referring to the end, or last, vowel in a word.

                                                                              1. re: foodstorm

                                                                                ha I also saw it as a command not a statement.

                                                                            3. jfood's step-dad was Italian. used to make a great pasta fazool when jfood was a teen. fast forward 10 years and jfood looking to make a pot of pasta fazool on a cold autumn weekend. grabs his trusty cookbooks and starts paging through the index. no pasta fazool, fazoul, fazule, nothing except this same listing for pasta fagiole. At his wits end jfood goes to this recipe and hmmmm, this looks remarkably like the pasta fazool jfood was looking for.

                                                                              1. Just to clarify, the subject of this thread was meant as a statement (end vowel as in final vowel of a word) and NOT AT ALL as a call for action (as in end this practice).
                                                                                My wife is an english linguist and we are both very interested in languages that is why we observed this phenomenon with some interest. I myself speak with a very noticable regional accent in my native language when I get back home.
                                                                                What we found particularly interesting - and why I felt compelled to post this - was the idea to apply this concept to any word with a vowel at the end regardless of origin.
                                                                                I didn't expect as many responses as I got. I certainly now know a lot more about this phenomenon. Thanks to everybody who contributed.

                                                                                1. Omg, what a great thread! My mother-in-law does this and it drives me insane!!! (In a Seinfeld-esque, cute endearing way, of course!) She thinks she is saying it with the correct Italian inflection, when it is the farthest thing from it! She doesn't even speak Italian, either, it's just her memory of her parents saying things a certain way. So funny.

                                                                                  1. Sfogliatelle is definitely one of the most dialected. I think I say "sfee-la-dell." I usually get what I ordered.

                                                                                    1. Perhaps my worst experience was with a rather anti-intellectual Italian-American who protested at my pretentiously incorrect pronunciation of "gnocchi." "It's pronounced 'yonky.' Duh."

                                                                                      And it looks like Wikipedia is further contributing to the bastardization of Italian foodstuffs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavatelli

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: JungMann

                                                                                        'yonky?' How about the phonetic pronounciation 'nyawkee?'

                                                                                      2. I had a former coworker try to tell me that in the "proper Italian" manicotti is pronounced MANA-GOOT! I responded "no it's not". I continued "I've traveled around Florence and Rome and Genoa and Venice and Milan and I've never heard anyone say MANA-GOOT!

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                            Thank you. I'm glad someone else can validate my experience. :-)

                                                                                          2. This is a southern Italian thing. Since most immigrants to the US are from southern Italy it is common in this country. Then, I think it gets magnified by successive generations who are not native Italian speakers and find it more natural to drop (or at least not emphasize) the vowels. You don't hear this from northern Italians.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: pemma

                                                                                              Thank you very much!!! That's it entirely. My mother grew up in Trieste and spoke beautiful Italian never dropping the last vowel. Alternatively and curiously, my father's family came from the Abbruzze region but also never dropped that vowel. Both families went to university here and in Italy.

                                                                                            2. I just had my husband review this post. He now realizes that thanks to his mother's mutated NJ 2nd-generation Italian pronunciations that he needs to re-learn Italian food words. Or just not say them. He is leaning towards just pointing to the menu when out to eat, so as to avoid further embarrassment. This is, of course, of great amusement to me.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: gottasay

                                                                                                what a shame. why should he drop his italian-american heritage b/c of the post? just because a few yuppies know the correct (Florentine-derived) Italian pronunciation? FYI there are lots of cultural and lingual differences between the North and South still. There is a major political party that would like to separate the North (the richest area in all of Europe) from the Middle and South (one of the poorest areas - NGO's still send people to certain areas and the Mafia is still very much in control of many cities.)

                                                                                                1. re: gottasay

                                                                                                  I'm not sure I understand. Your husband has spent his life living in a region where people call a particular dish "manigott" and when he goes to a restaurant and wants to eat it he orders the "manigott" and he is served a nice big plate of cheesey noodley goodness and even though the entire transaction has gone along seamlessly that there's something that needs to be re-learned?

                                                                                                  And again there seems to be some of that "haha you're not talking like real Italians in Italy talk" confusion seeping in. But in fact, "manigott" spoken by a NY/NJ native actually comes a lot closer to what you might hear in Italy -- the rounded vowels, the guttural g/c are much more likely to get you asked, "which part of Italy are you from?" rather than, "did you enjoy the flight from Ohio, Signora?"

                                                                                                  1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                                                    PEOPLE, relax! I don't tell the man what to do. I just had him read the post and asked him what he thought. He makes up his own mind! He can call it whatever he damn well pleases as long as the waitstaff understands him. I am not even Italian, so what do I care. The whole thing is just amusing to me. I stay out of it. The mother-in-law dictates and they follow. Trust me, I have no desire to interfere with her post. I live and let live.

                                                                                                2. I get email from Italians living in Genoa and on the Adriatic who have the same obsession as do I...growing and eating peperoncini (hot peppers). One of the guys sends me news items translated into American (I don't speak English). One of the items was about the proportion of Italians in each region that speak 'standard Italian.' The article indicated that only 20% of the Calabrese speak standard Italian, the rest speak only 'dialectic' Italian.

                                                                                                  Come al solito, io godo la dolce vita ma non sono italiano!


                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: ChiliDude

                                                                                                    thank you Chili Dude! maybe the self-righteousness will stop now.

                                                                                                    1. re: WCchopper

                                                                                                      LOL, WCchopper, I was wondering the same thing!! I had to Google it. Gabbagool=Capicola. Urban Dictionary had a colorful definition, lol.

                                                                                                      1. re: WCchopper

                                                                                                        Ham, basically. But really good ham. Two pieces of toast, a few slices of gabagol, some tomato and a bit of mayo and you've got one of earth's perfect lunches.

                                                                                                        1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                                                          Technically it comes from the neck/shoulder so it's not actually ham. Even more technically a lot of the capicola you find in the US is indeed conventional ham done up to taste like capicola. It's spicier than typical ham.

                                                                                                          1. re: jzerocsk

                                                                                                            I discovered that it is used in muffelatta, so apparently I have had it before! Sometimes the accent throws you off though!

                                                                                                      2. As an aside, I tend to think of Italian American and Italian cuisine as wholly differently entities (and I completely enjoy both of them btw). And I guess that the same holds true for the two cultures in general.
                                                                                                        We can all identify or differentiate between Italian American versus "Italian" food (which is a thousand different things I know). We can do the same with the two cultures including how words are pronounced. It's actually kind of cute: PASTA-FAH-JEWEL!

                                                                                                        1. My understanding of this is that the mass migrations of Italians into this country during the late 19th and early 20th centuries came mostly from the preindustrialized south -- places like Naples and Sicily. There is a pronounced regional accent in these areas -- just like there is in the American south -- and the immigrants just kept it up here. This accent is characterized by dropped final vowels (as in mootzarell' and brasciutt'), Gs replace Cs (so you get Sijill for Sicilian and gabbagole for coppacola), Bs replace Vs (so "va in c*lo" becomes "ba fung***"), and sometimes Bs replace P's --so you get "brazhoot" for prosciutto. Fs are sometimes replaced by Vs--so you get "jvoolyadell" for sfogliatelli, "pasta vazool" for pasta e fagioli and "gavone" for carfoni. I have been ernestly corrected by American speakers of this lingo when I've attemped to pronounce things in the standard Italian dialect--like prosciuttO. "Ha! You sound so American! It's "brazoot"!"
                                                                                                          While I don't think regional accents are wrong, and people shouldn't be ashamed to speak this way, I also think it's bad to perpetuate what is basically non-standard language that'll get you laughed at in most of Italy. I also suspect that it's become exaggerated here as well. Oh--and it all over the Northeast, not just in poor, maligned Jersey.

                                                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: nrxchef

                                                                                                            Great post!

                                                                                                            Growing up, the pastries were always called "shvin-a-DELL's," and the cheese "BRIH-veh-lone" (along with the other food pronunciations listed above).

                                                                                                            So when I go back to NJ, I can easily move from the rest-of-the-US pronunciations (preh-SHOOT-oh) to the NY/NJ ones (breh-ZOOT). The NY/NJ pronunciations are a classic regional dialect.

                                                                                                            1. re: LMT

                                                                                                              When I was a kid in Brooklyn, all of us non-Italian kids used to think that the Italian kids ate vast quantities of something called "pastafazool" every day. We had no idea what it was.

                                                                                                              Littrle did I think that i would actually try it one day, and think it was delicious.

                                                                                                            2. re: nrxchef

                                                                                                              First of all Sicilians and Neopolitans spoke their own languages, distinct from Italian, not regional "accents." Read some of the posts above for a history of the Italian language and a history of Italy. Spain and France alternately controlled Sicily and Naples (kingdom of the two Sicilies) until the 1860's. Or do a google search.

                                                                                                              1. re: nrxchef

                                                                                                                So, should we non-Italian speakers just say these words in "standard" pronunciation, in the same spirit that people who affect Southern pronunciation (JAW-juh) sound ridiculous?

                                                                                                                1. re: WCchopper

                                                                                                                  That's an excellent point. One could argue that in the strict REGIONAL accent that Baltimore is pronounced "BALL-mer" or that Philadelphia is pronouced "fell-ELF-ee-uh" or that New Orleans is pronounced "GNAW-lens" but you'd never say that the regional pronounciation was the proper "English" pronounciation.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                    Or, for that matter "Strine". That's the regional pronunciation in Australia.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                      jfood would say that the regional interpretaion IS the correct pronunciation. Why should someone from NJ tell someone from New Orleans how to pronounce the name of their home town. Likewise when jfood goes to N'orlins, he is not apt to tell a cajun that Newark is pronounced Nurk.

                                                                                                                      Why should Americans tell Italians, French or Germans that we resent the pronunciations of their own laguage? It's theirs.

                                                                                                                      Likwise Jfood LOVES the different pronunciations of various words, its a WONDERFUL expression of self and of regionality. That's one of the world's greatest problems, everyone want homogenity and political correctness instead of thriving in the diversity that makes us each so interesting.

                                                                                                                    2. re: WCchopper

                                                                                                                      >> So, should we non-Italian speakers just say these words in "standard" pronunciation

                                                                                                                      Not to continue to belabor the point, but you mean "non ny/nj-english-speaking-americans-of-remote-italian-descent-accent speakers", right?

                                                                                                                      Answer: probably. For the jaw-juh reason. Nothing wrong with being an outsider. If you find yourself eating enough manigot that the helpful corrections get to be a drag, your accent will change naturally. Mine went away almost immediately upon leaving.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                                                                        It is quite tricky. People who speak no Italian, and very little actual English, seem to feel it is rational to correct and deride people who do not use their particular mispronunciations of Italian foods.

                                                                                                                        I usually say 'oh I'm so terribly sorry, of course I mean to say reegoat' and then cross my fingers that I will be able to get some without any Jersey Shore style violence entering into the mix!

                                                                                                                    3. re: nrxchef

                                                                                                                      You do realize that there is no such a thing as a non standard language. They are all dialects of the same language. There was no "Italian" language up until about 140 years ago. There were loosely connected disseminations of bastardized vulgar latin. Basically all Italian dialects were variations of Vulgar Latin which changed over time and led to different pronunciations and words. If you look at the geographic range of the romance languages you see similarities in the languages in the now political boundaries of France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland and Romania. however when you look closer you see how the dialects of one country vary greatly and the people of southeastern France speak a dialect that has more similarities to Italian than does those in the North. There are so many factors that change languages whether it is exposure to other cultures through trade or political domination, education factors or simply different climates. It is easy for people in the United States to think that language remains constant.

                                                                                                                      Quite simply the now accepted 'mainstream languages" of most European countries are the languages or dialects of the regions that became the center of power. In France it is Parisian French rather than say Occitan, In Germany it is the Northern German dialect as opposed to the Bavarian, In Italy it is the language of Florence and even in england it is the London dialect. Speakers in these countries can probably understand each other but do sometimes do with great difficulty. In northern England I have had a hard time understanding what people were trying to say. This even happens in America as the "standard' american english is really a mid Atlantic accent.

                                                                                                                      Also while i know this is wikipedia and you should take this with a grain of salt, this article provides a pretty goo dmap of the regional variations of Italian


                                                                                                                    4. Yes, the pronunciation of the food terms you mention and other words is very typically Southern Italian and Southern Italian-American (even more so on the East Coast).
                                                                                                                      Remember that 90% of the Italians that immigrated to the US were from Southern Italy.
                                                                                                                      Most came from the Naples area, Calabria, and Sicily. The regional lanuages( or regional dialects) from those areas were transported here and basically handed down in one from or another.
                                                                                                                      The regional languages in Northern Italy are very different and rarely heard in the US.
                                                                                                                      Certainly more French and Germanic influences in the Northern languages.

                                                                                                                      Interestingly, many of these regional languages/dialects do have their own literary history, grammar, dictionaries, etc. Interesting topic.

                                                                                                                      1. There is no way I could read through all of these. I'm not sure if anyone has said this yet but I have a good one.
                                                                                                                        In Rhode Island I have heard this:

                                                                                                                        CaH-vaH-Ti = Cavatelli (pasta)

                                                                                                                        I always laugh (to myself of course when I hear this) Also, I wonder if I say Cavatelli, will they know what I want- Usually not. Funny :) Not funny in a making fun sort of way though- Funny in an interesting way!

                                                                                                                        1. too funny...glad this post got resurrected...

                                                                                                                          when I was a wee hound "ma" (my grandmother) sent me to the corner store for a 1/2 pound of supersod....it was very exciting as this was the first time I was ever allowed to cross the street alone

                                                                                                                          thank god the meat guy spoke the same language, because if I had pronounced it the way it's spelled we would have never had those delicious subs for dinner

                                                                                                                          supersod = sopressata

                                                                                                                          greetings from exit 38 (Atlantic City)

                                                                                                                          1. Well, a lot of families came here from Southern Italy. The dialects there are completely different than the Italian that is taught in schools, which is based on the Italian spoken in Florence. Even the dialect from one town to the next can be distinctive. (Going to Italy with my grandma, the closer we get to her town the better able people are to pinpoint the *exact* little town she came from.) In a lot of places, the end vowels *are* dropped off, and the hard consonants are made soft. For example, in my grandmother's town, they say "gameej" for shirt (camicia, "ca-MEE-cha" in Florentine Italian). In fact, some of the pronouns in her town are completely different, too -- not lui and lei, for example, but iso and keila. (Not sure if I'm spelling them correctly, since I've only heard them and not seen them written.)

                                                                                                                            So dropping the end vowel is not incorrect or a trend, but is based on perfectly valid dialects of Italian other than Florentine.

                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: nicola23

                                                                                                                              My understanding is that dropping the end vowel while common in Southern Italy is still considered "slang" which is distinct from a "dialect".
                                                                                                                              So this usage does come from somewhere I agree, but what rubs at least me the wrong way is when it is considered "proper" Italian by some.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                I don't know that I consider it 'proper', but I am 'fond' of it, as I grew up with it.

                                                                                                                                As my father says: 'saseech his own'.

                                                                                                                            2. I want to thank every poster who either took the time to research regional Italian languages or was already knowledgeable on the subject. I have read some pretty off-the-wall statements on this thread.

                                                                                                                              The truth is, Italy is very culturally and linguistically diverse. All of the different "versions of Italian" which keep being referred to here as "dialects" are actually their own unique languages. The fact that you can buy Sicilian or Neapolitan dictionaries and grammar books is a testament to that.

                                                                                                                              For those of you more privy on language and Italian in particular, I'll go into some detail. "Nnapulitano" (Neapolitan) has neutral nouns, which do not occur in standard Italian. Further, there are no plural articles, such as "gli," "le" or "i." Lastly, many Neapolitan words have their own unique plural form rather than a masculine or feminine one.

                                                                                                                              Truly, the regional languages of Italy are the result of the blending of the vast number of linguistic influences over each region. With each new foreign conquest comes new developments in each respective language. Words borrowed from Arabic, Spanish, French, German and even English can be found throughout Italy.

                                                                                                                              To exemplify how Neapolitan differs from Italian, perhaps sharing with you all a song I translated from Neapolitan to standard Italian and English will help:


                                                                                                                              I created this document as part of a project in an Italian class I took in college. By the way, it's a beautiful song which you can listen to on YouTube:


                                                                                                                              Next, I want to share with you all with some real world experience that may correct the belief that "nobody in Italy" speaks the way those in the North-Eastern United States do.

                                                                                                                              I was in Naples a few years ago, the city from which my grandparents emigrated to the United States from. I had just arrived in Naples after being in the north visiting some of the famous sites and thus was trying to speak Italian as Northern as possible. I was hungry, so as soon as I got off the train with my family we went into a bakery where I ordered a sfogliatella, pronouncing every last letter the Florentine way (standard). The woman behind the counter looked at me and then asked, "shfoo-ya-dell?" She said it exactly as I grew up saying it! And what do you know, the last vowel was dropped -- IN ITALY! In addition, the "t" was pronounced more like a "d," similarly to "sopressata" becoming "sopressad."

                                                                                                                              This is not the only time I've heard the Neapolitan variation of speech present in modern Italy. I was watching the Italian version of the television show "Big Brother" and heard one of the contestants say, "ashpett" rather than "aspetta" when asking another contestant to wait. Interestingly, he was speaking almost 100% standard Italian, with the exception of a few words. This is the exact way my father and his father before him pronounce this word. In Neapolitan, the letter "s" is almost always pronounced "sh." For instance, my last name, "Pascarella," becomes, "Pashcarell," the last vowel usually dropped, of course.

                                                                                                                              To see other ways in which the Neapolitan language still exists today, check out Neapolitan songs on YouTube. Aside from the classics written over the past three-or-so hundred years, there are hip hop and rock-n-roll artists still using their local language, proudly!

                                                                                                                              I take the viewpoint that diversity should always be encouraged. In a country like Italy, where diversity is the norm, I am happy to see that the peninsula has not been completely standardized. However, I do feel it is important to be familiar with the standard Italian language wich is gaining popularity in Italy, as it allows the country to uniformly express itself.

                                                                                                                              1. This is a riot! Being of Irish decent, having lived in NYC and Long Island, then on to NJ, my Italian friends used to laugh at the way I various italian food items. such as "Cappi-cola" which should pronounced "gabigol". My pronouniation of pizza had some friends howling because they said "abeets"--for pizza no less--I like to think "abeets" is a bastardization of sorts. My "Mannacotti" is really "mannigowt" Thank you for a truly funny post.

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: jarona

                                                                                                                                    How should I pronounce 'capicola' in my new Korean H Mart (Seattle area)? This chain, which has NJ roots, sells thinly sliced fresh pork with this descriptor. I suspect it is cut from the the same part of the animal as the Italian cured form - only it is intended for Korean style table top cooking. To complicate matters, I suspect most of the butchery staff would pronounce it with a Spanish accent.

                                                                                                                                  2. WASP from St. Louis checking in. Most of our family-owned Italian restaurants are from Sicilians and their descendants, and those final vowels are dropped like hot potatoes (or raviol'). The largest group was seven sisters from Sicily who all married guys who began as waiters and then went on to open restaurants - all this after World War II. The menu is written in standard Italian-American, but in the kitchen and in the grocery stores in the still-vibrant Italian neighborhood, which was begun around the turn of the 20th century by Lombards who came to work in nearby brickyards. Sadly, there were never any northern Italian restaurants from those families; we have them now, but risotto was never seen on our menus until a few decades. I'm told there are some Lombards still around, but I suspect they've fallen in with the pronunciation of prosciutt' and mozzarel'

                                                                                                                                    1. This is actually a result of a vowel shortage at the wheel of fortune (contestants have been stealing them to resell on ebay due to the bad economy). So Vanna and Pat have been buying them where ever they are available. For some reason the Italian places in NJ have been very accomodating. For now, the focus has been on the terminal vowel, but there are predicitions that others will go as well and you will soon be dining on frsh mzrll...

                                                                                                                                      1. I have been having so much fun reading the posts in the thread about names in an Italian menu, that it seemed like a good idea to try and get this thread going again.

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply