How to pronounce pizza
I recently watched a great online course about machine learning from UC Berkeley. The course started pre-COVID19 and included a dinner break for which pizza was ordered in. The fact that the lecturer, who is not a native English speaker, mispronounced pizza motivated me to write this post. As always, things are more interesting than expected. The lecturer pronounced pizza as [pi:zə], with [z] being the same (tricky) sound as in zoo (listen here) or, ironically, just like the English pronunciation of the Italian city Pisa. The reason why the correct pronunciation of pizza, namely [ˈpi:tsə] (listen here), differs from the one in the video has nothing to do with the presence of a second letter z. For example, the letter combination zz in words such as drizzle [ˈdrɪzl] or sizzle [ˈsɪzl] is pronounced just like the z in zoo. Instead, the difference is most likely due to the Italian origin of the word pizza. The same is true for palazzo and intermezzo, also English words of Italian origin.