parMEzian cheese

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Tue Oct 1 17:41:23 UTC 2002

>Please rememnber final weakly stressed vowel deletion in southern
>Italian (and recall that the overwhelming percentage of Italian
>immigrants in America come from Sicily and the south) . Therefore,
>/par-me-ZHAN/ is what many native speakers would have said (and what
>many non-Italian speakers would have heard).

dIn Is

>In a message dated 10/1/02 11:59:06 AM, pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU writes:
><< Now the invented "Parmesian" seems to have been
>supplanted by the equally invented "parmeZHAN" (as also noted by Peter
>Richardson), apparently via the line of reasoning: "To make a word sound
>more foreign, and hence more authentic, stress the last syllable, pronounce
>spelled <g> as 'zh' and ignore all other spelling cues." >>
>I suspect "Par-me-ZHAN" comes from Italian-Americans pronouncing it that way
>based on the Italian pronunciation of "Parmigiano." In other words, a
>conflation of "Par-me-ZAN" with "Par-mi-JAN-o."
>Steve Boatti

Dennis R. Preston
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic,
      Asian & African Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027
e-mail: preston at
phone: (517) 353-9290

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