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How should one pronounce, "minestrone" in English? I was at an Italian restaurant (US) and ordered "min eh stron ee soup" and my friend told me that's wrong... that the ending "e" is silent. They said it's pronounced, "min e stron". What is correct?

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    Wouldn't a dictionary be able to settle this debate? – J.R. Jul 11 '14 at 8:28
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    I think that most dictionaries actually fail to describe the variation that CoolHandLouis asks about in his question and talks about in his answer. I think this question adds something useful to the site that you wouldn't get from a dictionary lookup alone, so I'd like to keep this question open. – snailcar Dec 20 '16 at 18:27
  • @snailplane Even if they did, would that merit closing this? This addresses a common-enough, mistaken, prescriptive pronunciation (multiple people have told me the "correct" pronunciation). Even if all dictionaries included an IPA on this tomorrow, the problem this Q/A addresses would still exist. OTOH, I noticed maybe there's a clean up effort on ELL? Tightening ship? – CoolHandLouis Dec 21 '16 at 3:01
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Ministrone is an English loan word from Italian. Italian language courses teach the Standard Italian pronunciation in which almost all letters are vocalized except silent h. (So for example, "bella" is pronounced "bel la", not "be la".) So minestrone is pronounced "min eh stron ee" or "min eh stron eh".

However, many people in America pronounce it "ministrohn" (silent e), and this is also ok, as that's how it's pronounced in some Italian dialects. In fact, this type of pronunciation (dropping ending vowels, especially for foods) was popularized during the long running HBO series, "The Sopranos". (See Why do The Sopranos leave off the last vowel in Italian words?)

But those who insist that "ministrohn" is the only proper pronunciation don't know what they're talking about. From a linguistic perspective, neither pronunciation is "the one and only correct way" or "wrong", they're just different.


Here's a good article from the The New York Times: You Say Prosciutto, I Say Pro-SHOOT, and Purists Cringe.

For general reference, see https://www.google.com/search?q=italian+drop+final+vowel.

keyword: minestrone soup

  • The question is about how to pronounce it in English, not in Italian. – sumelic Nov 2 '15 at 8:09
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    @sumelic I asked the question! I provided this question/answer as a reference because the question sometimes pops up among English speakers. – CoolHandLouis Nov 11 '15 at 17:13
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    In Genovese dialect (Italy) it is commonly called menestrun... – Mari-Lou A Dec 19 '16 at 1:45
  • @Mari-LouA Thanks! I've made some updates to the answer, which I think better reflects the point about the impact of native regional dialects on American pronunciation. – CoolHandLouis Dec 19 '16 at 2:50
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    There's also some variation on the second syllable. According to the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, some people pronounce the second syllable /ɪ/ rather than /ə/. – snailcar Dec 20 '16 at 18:19
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In AmE, there seems to be different ways of pronouncing it

minestrone

and

minestron
(she has an Italian surname...)

Maybe it's a potato/tomato thing especially if it has different pronunciations in Italian.

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