parMEzian cheese

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Oct 1 20:25:36 UTC 2002

At 4:08 PM -0400 10/1/02, Mandy Adkins wrote:
>I have an aunt from Italy.  When she first came to live in Kentucky from
>Italy, she was constantly correcting anything we said that seemed to come from
>Italian.  The biggest of which was parmesian.

I've never seen this spelling in cookbooks or on menus.  How common
is it?  I've just encountered "parmigiano" and "parmesan".  Or maybe
"parmegiano".  Never "parmesian".

>  She said it should be pronounced

(1)  Parem-?  Are you sure?
(2)  I'm still not sure where and when the fricative developed.  How
widespread is this for Italian -gi-/-ge- outside this particular
lexical item?  Is there a dessription of a general /dzh/-->/zh/ shift
in Italian dialects?


>Quoting Steve Boatti <Ittaob at AOL.COM>:
>>  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

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