Italian-Americanisms? or regionalisms?

Joanne M. Despres jdespres at MERRIAM-WEBSTER.COM
Mon Jul 8 14:44:54 UTC 2002

My mother and aunt, whose parents immigrated from Sicily,
pronounce ricotta something like rih-GuOTH-uh, and manicotti
something like mah-nih-GuOTH-ee.  (That TH-sound is really
something like an almost-unaspirated "d" to "th" affricate -- if that
makes any sense -- and the "uo" is basically an open "o" with a
soft "u" onset.)  They grew up in Lawrence, MA.

Last weekend, I ordered a pizza in a southern CT restaurant and
heard the waitress pronounce the cheese on top "mootzarella."
That pronunciation strikes me as New Jerseyish, though I'm not
sure whether it's Italian-American (the mother of a friend of mine, a
non-Italian who grew up in Jersey City and now lives in the "Pasta
Triangle" region of Essex County, where I believe the Sopranos
episodes are set, pronounces it that way).  My own mother's family
definitely doesn't use that "oo" pronunciation, though.  In any case,
the point is, I think there have to be a couple of different regional
variations of Italian-American pronunciation.

Joanne Despres

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