Saturday 19 June 2010


I was wondering how Italians pronounce the term zoo: is it ˈdzɔo or dzɔ? If you look this word up in a dictionary such as Lo Zingarelli (2007) or Il Devoto-Oli (2011), the only pronunciation they give is ˈdzɔo. I assume this is because they are rather prescriptive dictionaries. But I don't say ˈdzɔo. I say dzɔ. And I'm not the only one: my parents, brothers, grandmother, aunt all say dzɔ. Are we all wrong then?
The only dictionary I have been able to find which also provides the variant I use is the Dizionario di Pronuncia Italiana (DiPl, 2009) by Luciano Canepàri. The author considers ˈdzɔo as the main pronunciation (by which he means that that is the correct one) and regards dzɔ as frequent but slipshod, highlighting that it should be avoided as it may indicate that the speaker is not well educated.
I don't regard myself as uneducated at all! My parents and my brothers aren't either! So which form do you think you mostly use? Which form do you prefer? Would you consider a speaker uneducated if they used the variant I do?

NB: To see the IPA phonetic symbols in the text, please ensure that you have installed a Unicode font that includes them all, for example LUCIDA SANS UNICODE or Charis SIL. (Click here for free download.)


  1. For what it's worth, I say dzɔ and as far as I can tell all my friends and relatives do so too. I might say ˈdzɔo only as joke: andiamo allo ˈdzɔooooo!!!!
    I'm from Milan.

  2. Hi teacher! As I promised, here my opinion.
    I say dzɔo, and almost all people I know in Roma do it as well!

  3. Hi Alex, I say dzɔo, but I asked some colleagues and most of them say dzɔ.

  4. My readers may want to have a look at the updated online version of the DiPI with emendations and additions:

  5. Salve prof!Mi scuso in anticipo per i miei commenti che non solo sono in italiano, ma anche privi dell'uso dei simboli fonetici!Rimedierò presto!Comunque io dico "zò" con la "o" chiusa e breve ed anche i miei e mio fratello lo dicono così.


  6. Io dico dzɔ: (sarà perché sono toscano?)