Italian cheese. How do you stand on it?

There are some words that, for no explicable reason, make me feel ill. Rococo is one. Every time I hear it, my teeth object. And my epiglotis turns epileptic.

The only relief is that I know very few people who would ever utter the word rococo. And cannot remember the last book that included it.

Which is not case with Parmesan. I go to many Italian restaurants all over America. And every time, if the waiter is not Italian, I am offered something called ” Parmezhan.” To me, this sounds like an NFL kicker from the late 1960s. Or perhaps one of Genghis Khan’s lieutenants.

” He was disemboweled by Parmezhan, sir.”
” Ah, his was an honorable death.”

But what did that sprinkly cheese do to deserve this verbal disembowelment?

In Italian it is Parmiggiano.

Did some American tourist- from Illinois, perhaps- come back from doing Europe in a week and declare at his local trattoria:
” Mario, dzhyou got any of that Parmezhan cheese?”

And that someone was so influential that his pronounciation spread like influentia? Perhaps it was Mike Ditka. Or some distant (and disowned) descendant of Yogi Berra.

Is this how every short vowel in the Spanish language became a long one in the US? Does it take just one American to mispronounce a foreign word for that pronounciation to become the gospel utterance?

Are Americans sheep?

Parmezheep, perhaps.


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