parMEzian cheese

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Wed Oct 2 04:54:49 UTC 2002

Larry Horn:

>(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 description of a general /dzh/-->/zh/ shift
>in Italian dialects?

I don't think it's restricted to "parmesan". How do we pronounce "adagio"?
How do the French pronounce it? If it was adopted into English from French,
how "should" it be pronounced? If it was adopted directly from Italian, how
"should" it be pronounced? Do most persons (even sophisticated ones)
immediately know whether it was adopted proximately from Italian or from

I would (perhaps erroneously?) assume "parmesan" to be French and use an
Anglicized French pronunciation /parm at zan/; I would assume "parmigiano" to
be Italian and use an Anglicized Italian pronunciation /parmIdZanow/. But
does the typical US-an on the street have even my naive/primitive
understanding of the distinction?

-- Doug Wilson

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