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How to say ‘chorizo’

March 14, 2015

Last week I went to a butcher’s in Stoke Newington where I was taught how to make sausages – and jolly fine sausages they were too. But that’s not really the subject of this post. The point is that the butcher first gave a short talk on the history of the sausage, in which he mentioned the cured sausages of other countries, such as Italian salami and Spanish chorizo. I was pleased to note that he pronounced chorizo as it should be pronounced: cho-ree-though. All too many people pronounce it as cho-ritz -o – as if the z in it was like the Italian double-z in pizza. But it’s not. Spanish and English are (I think) the only two European languages that have the th sound, so really you’d think we’d be promoting and supporting this pronunciation. (There is in fact a real possibility that the th sound will become endangered in English in the next few generations, I’ve heard, as many non-native speakers find it hard to say and use t, d or f instead.) Let’s all say chorizo in the proper way. Choreethough. Choreethough. Choreethough.

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  1. I cannot help but laugh. My wife pronounces chorizo with the infamous ‘zz’ Italian sound, and we lived in Spain for four years! I am Spanish, of course, and I do find the ‘zeta’ sound hard to describe. This conundrum is made relevant because I teach Spanish in the US. So, how do I tell my students to pronounce it? (I quite literally wrote this on the board yesterday) sho-ree-tho(rn). The Spanish ‘zeta’ is a dental sound, something only seen in English with ‘th’ as you so correctly point out. I (as does Castilian Spanish) like my ‘zetas’ stronger (so much so many people incorrectly think we have a lisp – not true), though, so I tell the kids to think of ‘thorn’ and remove the ‘rn’. What comes out is perfect Spanish. Who knew chorizo could give so much to talk about? I just eat it. That’s the best use for it.

  2. I certainly agree that eating chorizo is a more rewarding activity than talking about it!

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