Pronounce bruschetta, schism, and schedule. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

No, the “sch” in bruschetta is not pronounced like the English “sh”! It’s pronounced like the English “sk.” Bruschetta is an Italian word, not a German word, so don’t pronounce it as in Schadenfreude, to quote James Harbeck in the link below.

Actually, the issue is slightly more complicated than that. When English borrows (or steals?) a word from another language, it sometimes keeps the foreign pronunciation, sometimes anglicizes it completely, and sometimes engages in a sort of compromise. Consider, for instance, the French-English word fiancéWe usually make an attempt to sound French here: no knowledgeable English speaker is likely to sound the first vowel like bike nor the last vowel like beBut unless we are comfortable with French we don’t usually sound any of the vowels in the correct French manner, particularly the nasalized “a.” Vowels are tough — really tough. But we should at least make an attempt to get consonants right, especially if the correct consonant sound is available in normal English words.

For more on this subject, watch linguist James Harbeck’s brief, informative, and entertaining video on pronouncing schism and schedule, which gives you both the what and the how.

And I still pronounce the initial consonant cluster in schism as an “s,” no matter what anyone says.


Categories: Linguistics