If you’re Italian-American, chances are you’ve heard capicola pronounced as “gabagool,” mozzarella as “mutzadell,” and ricotta as “ree-goat ” especially if you have watched The Sopranos. You can hear it in the video below. But what caused this mutation of the Italian language?
Well, Dan Nosowitz, author of How Capicola Became Gabagool: The Italian New Jersey Accent, Explained, sought to understand this language mutation. To do so, he spoke with several linguistic experts. According to Nosowitz, the population of Italian-Americans from Southern Italy is extremely large. Approximately 80% of Italian-Americans descend from Southern Italy!
If you’re Italian, it is evident that each region has a distinct dialect. For example, if you go to Calabria and then visit Bari, the language will undoubtedly sound different.
So, when words like capicola are pronounced as “gabagool” this is because many Italian-Americans held onto their native dialects.
In the word “Gabagool”, the original beginning “c” as in car sound is being voiced which makes it sound like “g” as in go. The second “c” in capicola is also voiced in “gabagool” which makes it sound like a “g”. There is also much more emphasis placed on the “ooh” sound.