Mafia [pronunciation]

Welsh_Sion

Senior Member
Welsh - Northern
A female friend of mine (Southern British English) pronounces this word (and its equivalent in lower case) as 'MAYffiya' (IPA transcription available on request) when speaking English. I've always heard (and use) 'MAFFya'. Anyone else use/heard the first one? Where does it come from - even in southern BrE. it sounds odd to me.
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I’ve never heard it pronounced that way, in the UK or anywhere else. But the pronunciation does seem to vary between the UK and America, as the audio clips here show. (In other words, in North America it seems often to be pronounced MARfia.)
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    That's similar to how North Americans say PAHS-tuh (the more 'foreign' vowel) and British speakers say PAS-tuh. (I'm talking about pasta of course.) I always hear the short vowel in Mafia.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    No, not identical. I think AmE gives the long back 'a' to pasta, and the short 'a' to pastor. And it's the other way round in southern English English. (I think both give the short 'a' to Pasteur, but I'm not sure as I can't remember the last time I heard an American saying the name.)
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    (I think both give the short 'a' to Pasteur, but I'm not sure as I can't remember the last time I heard an American saying the name.)
    Good question. The a in pasteurise and derivations thereof is pronounced as in past, and I think I would pronounce the name the same way,
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The a in pasteurise and derivations thereof is pronounced as in past, and I think I would pronounce the name the same way,
    I certainly wouldn’t. As a Brit, I’d pronounce Pasteur the French way, but pasteurise as though it meant pa[r]sture - ise.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    In other words, in North America it seems often to be pronounced MARfia.
    This always seems weird for us rhotic speakers to read because we pronounce our r's as a consonant. So it sounds like you are saying we put a rhotic r in mafia, which we definitely don't.

    In American English we would notate it something like "mah-fee-uh".

    It would not be the vowel in cat, which is what I think you are saying is your pronunciation. For us, it's the same vowel as in our father or pot or pasta.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I listened to all those pronunciations and it seems only the UK and UK-RP versions (as pronounced) favor that short "a" sound. The Australian and Scottish and others sounded more like our usual AE pronunciation.
     
    Would you also say, pasta, pastor and Pasteur are all identical in North America, then?

    No, they are all different.

    "Pasta" (which in my childhood was never called pasta, but was instead called macaroni) is a word that has been picked up from Italian speakers, or from the many people in the US whose parents or grandparents were Italian speakers. It is therefore pronounced in a way that approximates the Italian pronunciation: it is PAHS-tah or PAHS-tuh. I have never heard anyone but a Briton say PASS-tah, and I consider that an exclusively "foreign" pronunciation. Pastor has a short "a" and ends with an r, and since most American accents are rhotic what you hear in most parts of the country is PASS-ter (with that "r" actually said), although in non-rhotic accents such as those of New York City and New England you will hear PASS-tuh. The scientist's name is usually rendered either as pass-TOOR or pass-TYOOR.

    In the same way, "Mafia" is pronounced in a way that approximates the Italian pronunciation, and is MAH-fee-ah or MAH-fee-uh. The pronunciation "MAFFiya" would be regarded either as rural and bumpkinish, or as British, while MAYfiya would be though outlandish and ridiculous.
     
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    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I listened to all those pronunciations and it seems only the UK and UK-RP versions (as pronounced) favor that short "a" sound. The Australian and Scottish and others sounded more like our usual AE pronunciation.
    They obviously sound very different to different people then. :)
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I should have mentioned the Yorkshire one, too. That one skipped my mind. The Irish one seems halfway between.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    This always seems weird for us rhotic speakers to read because we pronounce our r's as a consonant. So it sounds like you are saying we put a rhotic r in mafia, which we definitely don't.
    That reminds me of a CD from Sade in which the packaging "helpfully" indicated how to pronounce her name "Sharday" but whoever did that was not aware of how AE speakers might say it :D (Shah-day would have avoided that).
    It would not be the vowel in cat, which is what I think you are saying is your pronunciation. For us, it's the same vowel as in our father or pot or pasta.
    Those three are all different for me. As far as I can tell, the short o in the lot vowel in a large fraction of BE speakers simply does not exist in AE (and definitely not in the voice recognition system trained for AE in my phone). I think a difference is that AE sounbs like it's trying to copy the Italian while BE does not:)

    (I still think it would be useful to have an "English Pronunciation" sub-forum, but understand that it's not that simple to set up and resource)
     
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