I actually started an entry on this subject three weeks ago and even got art for it, and then got distracted.
I didn't think about it again until Henry Miller posted this under Bucky's last opus:
I was in an Italian restaurant where I ordered "brusketta" and was corrected, being told that it was pronounced "brushetta." Maybe "rage" is appropriate in that case.
I'm not going to discuss here how much I, too, enjoy having my pronunciation corrected by someone who's taking my order. Instead I want to talk about how and when foreign food terms become anglicized. McIntyre will probably be on my case for intruding on his territory here. ...
Bruschetta is a good example. When should we start bowing to the inevitable and pronouncing it "brushetta" just because our primary objective is to communicate our order to the server with the minimum amount of fuss?
It's odd that no one seems to have trouble pronouncing "radicchio" correctly as "radeekeo."
We don't pronounce "crepe," "croissant" or "prix fixe" the way the French do. (Well, I try to, but I know I sound affected.)
How about "tempura"? For sure you don't say it the way your Japanese waitress does. But when you try to say it the non-American way, she doesn't know what you're talking about.
There's a copy editor who speaks Italian on the features copy desk who changes "cannoli" to "cannolo" whenever someone writes about one. I'm afraid readers won't know what I'm talking about if I use "cannolo," so I always write about the Italian pastry in the plural so it won't be an issue.
For some reason, "bronzino" is clear, even though many menus use "bronzini" for one whole fish, and that's what people are most used to.
I had a linguistics professor who just laughed at discussions like this.
"Grammar books are history books, not law books," he would say. I presume he would say the same thing about pronunciation guides.
(Algerina Perna/Sun photographer)