Italian-Americanisms? or regionalisms?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jul 8 00:59:34 UTC 2002

>Dale Coye said:
>>My summer class was instructing me on some of the finer points of Italian
>>cuisine--they were mostly from the Trenton area.  Don't know if these are
>>regionalisms or Italian-Americanisms.
>>Gravy 'tomato sauce for pasta'-- DARE has a meaning =sweet sauces, but this
>>meaning isn't there.   I asked them what they'd call gravy for turkey, or
>>meat, and some said 'brown gravy'
>>Pie  'a pizza'.  When you say, "We had a pie last night"  you mean a pizza.
>>Ricotta-  pronounced /rih GAWT/-- with open o (cot/caught distinction is
>>maintained almost universally by students here).
>>Manicotti-- same thing /man ih GAWT/
>The latter two sound familiar for New Haven also. I'm not sure of the vowel
>quality (/a/ vs /ao/)--perhaps it's back unrounded?--but the <c> as /g/
>(voiceless unaspirated) and the loss of the final /i/ is the norm here.

Right, and the crucial feature is the part of Italy emigrants came
from.  Around here, it's Campania, but not specifically Naples--there
are villages that can be named (at least by a former student who went
there to research his senior essay on the origins of the English
spoken by New Haven Italian-Americans) that provided much of the
impetus for what is sometimes thought of as the Wooster Street
dialect--e.g. (inter alia) "apizza", pronounced a-BEETS, as
previously discussed here (which now designates the list, rather than
New Haven).  Does anyone know whether the "maniGAWT", "riGAWT"would
be widespread throughout Campania or (even more generally) southern
Italy (or, for that matter, Sicily, where a larger proportion of NYC
Italian speakers would have come from, I believe)?  And does anyone
know where the majority of Trenton Italian-Americans would trace
their origins from?


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