We recently had a message on Facebook inquiring as to why we pronounce PIZZA, MOZART, NAZI, and MOZZARELLA with a “TS” sound, as opposed to a “ZZ” sound. This is a great question!
As you may know, when we have other words with double ZZ’s, such as DIZZY, FIZZY, or DRIZZLE, we pronounce them exactly as spelled with a ZZ sound. So why are these other words pronounced with a TS sound?
Well, if you notice, those four words (PIZZA, MOZART, NAZI, and MOZZARELLA) are all borrowed words from Italian, German, or Austrian German. Because of this, when we pronounce them in English we also borrow the pronunciation of those words from their original language.
When a Z or a ZZ appear in a word in German and Italian, they do not exactly sound like the English Z. In fact they sound a bit closer to TZ or TS, and we approximate that into our speech as a TZ or TS. That is why we pronounce them that way, because they are borrowed!
We borrow a lot of words from other languages.
Can you think of other words that we use in English that have been borrowed from other languages?