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Is it OK when David Rocco pronounces Italian words correctly but not when Giada does it?

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Giada de Laurentiis (whose grandfather Dino just passed away, by the way) takes a lot of heat here for the way she pronounces Italian food items very 'Italian' and very specifically. While watching David Rocco's Dolce Vita the other night it was apparent that he really does the same thing with possibly just a bit less 'flair'. All either of them are doing is pronouncing Italian words as an Italian would, albeit in the middle of American/Canadian English-sounding sentences. But I haven't seen anyone give David a hard time over it. Is Giada just over-the-top for some people, and why?

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  1. I've never been bothered by Giada's pronunciation--she was raised in a very Italian home, after all--nor Rocco's. In fact, given the consistently awful mangling of even simple words and phrases by well-known food celebs--more so it seems when they're guests at some Tuscan estate--bravo for both. For me, watching Giada is problematic for other reasons, like her unnatural and extreme facial expressions. Rocco's smily face energy is sometimes out of control, and he tends to ruin things with his Italian ragazzi frat boy friends shtick. Other than that....

    8 Replies
    1. re: bob96

      I had never heard of David Rocco, so I went and watched his Amalfi episode on YouTube. His Italian is very good but with a definite American accent. I found his use of "rigotta" instead of "ricotta" annoying (his local hostess came right back at him with "ricotta"). I found his giving the full flourish to the name Maria a bit borderline when he was speaking English -- it was fine when speaking Italian.

      Giada, as others have pointed out, has a funny way of pronouncing Italian vowels. To me it doesn't come across so much affected as peculiar. I have watched Giada on YouTube with my Italian husband and my Italian coauthor, both of whom were much more disturbed (read "apoplectic") over how she made carbonara than how she pronounced it.

      1. re: mbfant

        It sounds to me like she's overenunciating. It's not something she does in her earlier seasons. Kind of like that oversmiling habit she picked up along the way.

        1. re: mbfant

          Rocco's Canadian. His Italian may well be good--and it does sound like it is whenever he manages to string a sentence together--but he's trapped in the same small repertoire of cliched gestures and verbal ticks that producers (and/or he) feel need to be there for "Italian" to register. His cooking and enthusiasm for all things Italian are fun, but his range is so stiff and limited: a stagy perkiness that wears thin. His Amalfi and Naples episodes also showcased a local comic-singer named Eddie who embodies in excruciating intensity all of the same cheesy flourishes. Ouch. Giada, pronunciation aside for the moment, is, well, now just Brand Giada, all teeth and head and smile and pretty close ups of garlic being whacked and young women friends laughing over their prosecco.

          1. re: mbfant

            Very interesting to hear from someone with your experience, ear and linguistic ability.

          2. re: bob96

            By the way how do you pronounce her name.. is it GWEEEDA .. the opposite of Guido?

            1. re: cwdonald


              1. re: sandylc

                Unless she mispronounces her own name, which I doubt, the G is more of a DJ sound.

                1. re: mbfant

                  Thanks. That's better than my attempt.

          3. If you're referring to criticisms of her pronunciations on this board, it is OK for Rocco because he is a man. It is not for Giada because she can cook, is popular, and is smoking hot, which makes her and any other attractive female a moving target for the Chowhound flock to peck to death.

            11 Replies
            1. re: Samalicious

              I don't know who David Rocco is and how he pronounces Italian words, but Giada completely over-enunciates. I have never heard any Italian -- either here or in Italy -- pronounce words the way she does.

              1. re: roxlet

                +1 Italians do not talk the way Giada does, and her claim to be Italian is ludicrous.

                1. re: pikawicca

                  Really? You can identify every accent in Italy? I thought Italy was pretty diverse in terms of food, culture and accents. I can't even place every American accent even though I've live here most my life.

                  1. re: reatard

                    You don't have to place every single American accent to know if the speaker is a native speaker.

                    1. re: chowser

                      Have you ever heard anyone with a Spanglish or Chinglish accent? I know some second generation American native English speakers with accents that sound awfully "foreign" to just about everyone that hears those accents.

                      1. re: chowser

                        I would've agreed until I heard a Tangier accent. The US is far too diverse to place every accent.

                      2. re: reatard

                        Italia is a rather new country, as you probably know.

                        Unficiation for the majority of the states came in 1861, with Trieste and the Alto Adige ( or Südtirol ) being annexed and incorporated at the end of WW I.

                        There are regional dialects everywhere, not counting German. Add an Italian decendant from Argentina, Brasil, and anywhere in North America, and the rich tapestry of the language gets even more involved. Nothing wrong with that: At least they are trying to keep the language alive by speaking it.

                        Do you want true Italian authenticity ?

                        Try Romanch, or Ladin, the language left by the Romans that is still spoken by those primarily living in the Alps, about 70,000. That is officially recognized as the 4th language of Switzerland.

                        Salve- salut - ciao = All the same greeting, no matter what you are cooking.

                      3. re: pikawicca

                        "+1 Italians do not talk the way Giada does, and her claim to be Italian is ludicrous.
                        By pikawicca on Nov 17, 2010 09:53PM"

                        So, since she was born in Rome of two Italian parents, this makes her claim to be Italian ludicrous in what way?

                        1. re: ttoommyy

                          Born in Rome, but moved to California shortly thereafter.

                          1. re: ttoommyy

                            I was going to post asking the same question.

                            oh great I really need to pay attention more I got sucked into another old thread.

                      4. re: Samalicious

                        Samalicious, perfectly stated! If Giada weren't such an attractive woman, she wouldn't be fodder for the endless criticism.

                      5. There is a difference between Giada's and David's pronunciation. Giada's is extremely exaggerated. David speaks like most Italians I've ever met and heard. I was brought up in an all Italian home. All my relatives are Italian... All of them and they all speak Italian. None of them pronounces Italian words like Giada.

                        David's intermix of Italian and English in his sentences don't bother me because I take it to mean he's explaining to us what he's saying to the merchants and his friends. I wouldn;t mind Giada's intermix if she weren't so dramatic about it.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Gio

                          That's pretty much what I thought, Gio. I agree, but David seemed to be doing almost the same thing in the show that made me ask this. I think there's also an integrating element in David's shows because he lapses into Italian so often during different parts of the show. Giada's 'Italian' stands out more, especially because she seems like she's recording the words for one of those English-Italian pronunciation websites.

                          1. re: Gio

                            I always thought Giada over-enunciated because she is trying to make the words understandable to people who don't know Italian.

                            Julia Child who was not a native French speaker but who spoke French fluently did the same thing when she used French words on The French Chef.

                            I haven't seen David Rocco so I can't comment on his show.

                          2. Isn't his show too new (new to US tv, anyway)? I haven't even watched an episode yet. That's my reason why you haven't heard any criticism yet.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: funniduck

                              His show has been on the air in the US since Memorial Day, when the revised channel began (almost 6 months now). It usually takes about 20 minutes or less for comments to hit Chowhound.

                            2. I'm not one bothered by Giada's pronunciation. That said, I don't watch her too much either. I think you have a few things going on here:

                              1) Giada is far more visible/famous than David Rocco. Generally, the more famous you are the harsher people are towards you.

                              2) David's vague Canadian accent throws audiences just enough not to question his pronunciation of anything. Whereas Giada's familiar American accent makes it appear to the public that her pronunciation is affected. And generally American audiences tolerate anything they see as 'putting on airs' about as well as they tolerate puppy torture.

                              3) Giada is female and attractive. I'm not gonna say people are extra critical of attractive successful females. No, actually I will say that. Yep. That about covers it.

                              1. I don't think he overly-articulates like Giada. In fact, recently I watched him say "mozzarella" and I would have thought he was from Jersey (maybe he is?).
                                Anyway, the whole "women are jealous" is just a strawman arguement. So, let me burn it down for you.
                                Giada overly-articulates and becomes like a characature. It's forced and preachy, but then again, that's her "sammy and evoo and yummo". I get it.
                                Nigella is a stunning woman, and when she calls a dessert "treachly" it's so relaxed and natural that I get a kick out of her Brit accent and sensabilities.
                                See? No claws.

                                1. How do these two compare to Mario Batali in this regard? I confess to missing him and his orange Crocs on ICA. I enjoyed how he pronounced his Italian dishes.

                                  13 Replies
                                  1. re: Bob W

                                    OOOOh - Mario Batali is a really good contrast to Giada. Completely negates considerations 1 and 2 from my above post.

                                    Of course, Batali probably learned much of his pronunciation from the mouths of actual Italians, but I'm not sure that his average viewer would know that. Perhaps his presumed expertise and devotion to Italian food make his Italian pronunciation acceptable whereas Giada is (for whatever reason) viewed as less authoritative. I don't know though. I'm still pretty sure the attractive woman thing has something to do with the difference in the way they are treated.

                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                      My Italian teacher and my kids' piano teachers are italian and their pronunciation don't bother me in the least. Italians, from Italy, I know don't care for Giada's over-enunciation. Why is that when a woman doesn't like the way another woman does/says something, it's attributed to jealousy? Is it mysogynistic that a woman can't think for herself outside of jealousy? For the record, I wouldn't vote for Sarah Palin as president and it has nothing to do with jealousy of her attractiveness, though I've read that in a few places.

                                      1. re: chowser

                                        I never said that criticism of pretty women was limited to other women. From my perspective, noting that our culture is extra critical of successful, pretty women is merely stating the obvious.

                                        For the record, I wouldn't vote for Sarah Palin either. I just happen to think that most of the criticisms of her are MUCH more substantive than those I typically see of Giada.

                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                          I'm almost afraid to admit that I don't even find her that attractive, lest I be accused of something else. I don't dislike Giada, just the way she overpronounces her Italian. I haven't heard David Rocco to know if his pronunciation bothers me. Or, maybe I need to see how attractive he is first.;-p

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            I'm no expert on Italian pronunciation. I'm sure that there are people who merely object to her pronunciation, and if you say you are one of them, I'll take your word for it.

                                            The thing is, I assumed the OP was referencing comments about her in previous threads. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/276490
                                            Read that and then tell me no one takes cheap shots at her based on looks.

                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                              People take cheap shots based on looks, for any celebrity. But, that doesn't mean that that's the case here with the OP. I think assuming so would be the same as saying the only reason people defend her is because she is attractive.

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                "People take cheap shots based on looks, for any celebrity."
                                                Totally. I'm so sick of reading snarky comments about Jacques Pepin's mug.

                                                Seriously, did you read the thread I linked? You think every chowhound thread about a famous person reads like that?

                                      2. re: cowboyardee

                                        Of course, Giada was born in Italy and learned to speak Italian from actual Italians as well.

                                        1. re: mpjmph

                                          Didn't realize. Thanks for the info.

                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                            As someone who is trying to learn Italian and improve, I'd rather have someone over-enunciate and be a little more technically correct than another food tv personality who refers to her as Gee-Adda, not Jada and who says Tag-lee-a-tell, rather then her Tay-a-tayl-ee. I don't see gender nor fame as an issue.

                                          2. re: mpjmph

                                            Yeah, I was born in Taiwan and raised by actual Taiwanese, came to the US about the same age Giada did. As well as I try to speak it, I don't sound like a native. If I were to sprinkle terms into my English, it would probably sound a little forced because I'm trying to get the right sound out.

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              "If I were to sprinkle terms into my English, it would probably sound a little forced because I'm trying to get the right sound out."

                                              However, if you had a high profile cooking show in which you were introducing a wide swath of the American public to Taiwanese dishes you would most likely take the time to educate your viewers on the proper way to pronounce some of those dishes/ingredients. I would expect no less and be appreciative of your efforts to teach me.

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                Sometimes it's best to leave that type of educating to people who have more than an elementary understanding/pronunciation which is why I'd never try. If I tried to teach someone Taiwanese, they wouldn't be getting the correct form. Giada once made "paninos" on her show. Panino, panini, maybe paninis if you want to anglicize it but who says paninos?

                                      3. I think there's a HUGE difference. While both may be pronouncing Italian food items correctly, David Rocco does just that - pronounces them correctly & in a natural manner. Giada goes WAY over the top - to the point where she doesn't even sound Italian, like she learned the pronounciations in some language class somewhere.

                                        For a good comparison, listen to how both of them pronounce "mozzarella". David does a normal Italian enunciation versus Giada's "MOOOOOZZZARELLLA". It's laughable to the point of fakeness - almost like she's trying to make extra sure people know she's Italian. And her pronounciations aren't helped by her constant orgiastic facial expressions either - lol!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Breezychow

                                          Breezychow-my DH and I were just recently commenting on David's pronunciation of mozzarella. It sounded so .....normal. Is he from Jersey? ;-)

                                        2. She is the only person I have ever heard either here or in Italy pronounce the letter 'e' in Italian as 'ee'. She says spagheeti.

                                          E in Italian normally has two sounds: short vowel like e in pen; long vowel, similar to ai in fair. Other than that her pronunciation does not bother me.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: junescook

                                            I hear her saying it as 'spagh- ITTI' (no E sound) and it drives me nuts.

                                            1. re: pdxgastro

                                              And that's the point it seems everyone else has missed --she *doesn't* pronounce her words correctly. She says "spa-GIT-ti" and "pan-CHIT-ta" and not "spa-GET-ti" or even "spa-GAY-ti" the way my Italian teachers and language tapes and the people I met in Italy when I spent some time traveling the country did. She pronounces her short "e"s as "i"s.

                                              She is not the victim of gender bias. Just the opposite -- if she wasn't hot, she wouldn't have a career. She's just an idiot.

                                              There are native-born Americans who can't speak English, too, so lineage means nothing. Anyway, I think she said she moved here when she was five, so I'm not sure she's an expert on her mother tongue.

                                          2. I enjoy both hosts, both shows and for me it's all about context.
                                            Giada is in a fab house, in a fab kitchen in LA cooking/baking thru her modern twist on traditional Italian fare and uses her Italian roots to play with her audience. I believe her emphasis is intentional and to be playful. It's strictly a recipe driven show.

                                            David on the other hand is in Italy, on the street, in his apartment, visiting the countryside, mixing it up with the food people he's come to know and his program is a lifestyle show using food as a vantage point from the various areas of Italy he takes us to.

                                            I enjoy both, for different experiences.

                                            16 Replies
                                            1. re: HillJ

                                              And they are both totally faux experiences, both in the food they cook, and in the language they use.

                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                Bravo. It's the constantly forced smiles and joking and "enthusiasm" that simply tires me out. Rocco can do some good, simple cooking--and shot in Italy, the show offers much more than others shot in a studio--but the director or whoever then takes him over the top, so he gets like a grinning spinning banshee. Incidentally, his Italian vocabulary is threadbare--ragazzi, dai (come on), the cliched "eeehhhh" with cliched hand gesture and and the like.

                                                1. re: bob96

                                                  I am now officially sorry I started this topic. :o[

                                                  1. re: Midlife

                                                    Don't worry about it. Every thread takes on a life of its own on CH, I've found, especially with more and more people getting involved. It's just the internet. Don't put too much stock into what everyone else prefers. If you like Giada or Rocco, go ahead. It doesn't make you deficient in any way.

                                                    1. re: Midlife

                                                      Why? You asked why people give Giada a hard time for her accent and people responded. Were you expecting something else?

                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                        That's not really what I asked.......at least I don't think so. I was just a bit disappointed when this seemed to degenerate into some Giada-bashing.

                                                        The one response that seems the most pertinent to my question was to point out that Giada's pronunciation is possibly not true Italian, though I'm not sure that's much different than singling out a specific American accent as being not true. I think the 'exaggeration' of her pronunciations may lead to over-accentuation of some sounds as well. Anyway............ I was simply struck by Rocco's similar (to me anyway) highlighting of words and wondered whether others saw a similarity, but his was OK for some reason. No big deal.

                                                        1. re: Midlife

                                                          FWIW, I've never heard (or heard of) Rocco but if he over-enunciates his words the same way, I'd feel the same. I think Giada is just more well known. As for the bashing, not to excuse it, but it seems she has other mannerisms that bother people so the accent is another thing that contributes. As I've said in this thread, people I know from Italy have commented on her over-enunciation and I've never heard anyone call panini, "paninos". It would also strike me as funny if Rocco did the same.

                                                      2. re: Midlife

                                                        I'm not. Opinion is the spice of life, Midlife! Don't worry, be happy!

                                                      3. re: bob96

                                                        The multi-language network used to show his program with him speaking italian voiceovers over the standard english (presumably it's him speaking... it sounds like him). So presumably he knows enough Italian to give directions or to have at least simple conversations

                                                        1. re: bob96

                                                          bob96, you think Rocco's gig wouldn't make you smile? Come on. Since when is smiling with sheer delight, over food, while in a heavenly place like Italy gonna bring anything less than smiles to a lucky food hosts face? If his delivery was anything less, he wouldn't be doing his job or making viewers like me happy.

                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                            Oh its not the smiling---I enjoy very much the cheerful moments (and they're there) of relaxed pleasure he brings, especially since the food he's making so well is basically relaxed and cheerful. I suspect the producers force the feeling to "liven things up" with often wince-making set pieces (remember his pal Eddie, I think--a cartoon/buffoon Neapolitan)? Why these cliches (remember Batali's painful scenes in Italy with his Rooney?) are thought to be a plus is beyond me. When the host, the kitchen, the culture, and the food are fine as they are. If I had Rocco's gig, I'd be smiling, too.

                                                        2. re: pikawicca

                                                          if you believe that, good for you pika! I enjoy the heck out of Rocco and his smile and demeanor are fun. Giada is adorable and a lucky girl, good for her. Authentic means very little to me when it comes to television. But if I'm going to tune in I want to be entertained.

                                                        3. re: HillJ

                                                          > David on the other hand is in Italy, on the street, in his apartment, visiting the countryside,
                                                          > mixing it up with the food people he's come to know and his program is a lifestyle show
                                                          > using food as a vantage point from the various areas of Italy he takes us to.

                                                          I like his show because it feels like he is just a guy cooking; not a cookbook author doing a recipe show. For example, David's Pappa al Pomodoro was simple. He didn't take a lot of time to cut the bread into precisely sized pieces, the way other Food Network chefs would.

                                                          Also, because the show is taped in Italy, I get an insider feeling, an impression that he is speaking English for the first time that day, because all the rest of the time he is interacting with other people in Italian.

                                                          1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                            Agree to all this, but caspita! what other people. Everyone seems to be "playing" at Italian cliches (benign as they might be), from the random over-gesticulators to the slacker mammoni. But it's still Italy, and as they shows go, relatively local. Food's unfussy and fine.

                                                            1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                              Bravo!! I couldn't have said it better. That's exactly why I love watching his show & tune Giada's out.

                                                              1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                Agree- David Rocco doesn't come across as affected to me.

                                                                When Giada made a Thai noodle dish and said "did you try the spagheeeti yet?" I just had to roll my eyes.

                                                            2. If this were a board about "The Language Channel" I could understand people taking offense about the way one person speaks over another, but since these are food channels people should just stick to their cooking merits.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: jnk

                                                                This board is about "Food media and news." Presentation is a valid subject for discussion.

                                                                1. re: jnk

                                                                  "but since these are food channels people should just stick to their cooking merits."

                                                                  I respectfully disagree. If one is going to present him or herself on TV as an instructor, then one should also be able to communicate well and be judged on that skill also.

                                                                2. Probably because of the "flair" part. Really. Sometime it is not about what you say, but how you say it.

                                                                  1. Rocco's pronunciations don't annoy me. His lack of cooking skills does. Lol @ his knife skills, every other TV chef look like samurai warriors next to him.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Evilbanana11

                                                                      I don't think Rocco has any pretensions as passing himself off as a "chef", just a guy cooking for friends and family, who the target audience is. Yes, it's always better for us viewers who love to cook and try to constantly learn and improve to be inspired and emulate someone like Jacques Pepin, but David's show is just entertaining and a little more non-cheffy. Even Nigella Lawson made the point in a recent interview made a vigorous point of stating she was a cook, not a chef. If I want to learn knife skills, I watch Jacques, if I want a vicarious trip to Italy, I watch David.

                                                                    2. No comparison. True Giada was raised in a prominent Italian family and spent her summers in Capri, but she is a thoroughly Cali girl. Her rhythm, flow and tone when she tries to speak Italian, her intonation, is very stiff and unnatural. It does not seem at all "Italian" to me; it sounds (and is) acquired, learned and unnatural. In fact, her shows are all shot in LA and 99% of the time features only white Americans. The exceptions are the rare times her Italian aunt or her mama (only mom is Italian, btw, not her Dad) are on. She really busted this out as being true when she did a special with her aunt filmed it Italy, and had to cover (and edit) that she couldn't understand all that well when Italian was spoken to her. David Rocco was raised by both immigrant parents and raised speaking Italian at home; he and wifey actively live part of each year in Italy and consistently interact in Italian with Italians. He is at ease speaking and conversing in Italian... He's truly got his feet on the ground with this..,she has to work hard at it and comes off pretentious. (Y parlo Italiano...)

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: luminosa

                                                                        When I watch Rocco, I feel like I'm getting a bit of a vacation in Italy.

                                                                      2. Giada is beautiful. She could be chirping like a bird for all I care. I love her.

                                                                        1. Did anyone read the Sunday magazine w/ an article about Giada? Her aunt said Giada turned her back on speaking Italian as a child and had to learn it after becoming a chef. This makes sense with how she pronounces the words--it's like she's making an effort to pronounce it correctly rather than having it flow off her tongue. It makes it more forgiving to me (or I'm reading why she speaking the way she does incorrectly)--that she's trying as someone would who isn't fluent.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                            But she tries to sell herself as being fluent. That's the part that's obnoxious.

                                                                            1. re: roxlet

                                                                              Does she? It seems like she tried so hard to overpronounce the words. It used to really bother me because it sounded pretentious but I don't remember her ever saying she was fluent in Italian. Although, "fluent" can mean just getting by, to some people.

                                                                          2. It's never bothered me. I actually know lots of people that correctly pronounce words from their heritage language or languages they are fluent in, in the middle of English sentences including my husband, MIL, my BFF ect. I do it myself with French and Spanish fairly often.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: rasputina

                                                                              The key is "correctly" and she doesn't. She over enunciates her words. Brian Boitano does the best impression of her doing it.

                                                                            2. Being Italian, my problem with Giada is her EMPHATIC enunciation of Italian words - which she pronounces incorrectly half the time.

                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                              1. re: BaronDestructo

                                                                                Thank you!

                                                                                1. re: BaronDestructo

                                                                                  Giada's food mispronunciation pet peeves...

                                                                                  1. re: EM23

                                                                                    I could watch that all day.

                                                                                    1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                      Knock yourself out!

                                                                                      1. re: EM23

                                                                                        That's one way to put it...

                                                                                      2. re: jpc8015

                                                                                        See if you can detect any accent mis-/over-pronunciations here ;-) ;-)


                                                                                        1. re: LotusRapper

                                                                                          I will watch that about 75 times today.

                                                                                  2. the over pronunciation is annoying from anyone...
                                                                                    but Giada occasionally makes something worth watching.
                                                                                    Rocco is a waste of tv time.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: weedy

                                                                                      Rocco's recipes can be great. His Tuscan beans are delicious.