Masterchef viewers in pickle over chorizo pronunciation

By Marie Jackson
BBC News


You say chorizo, I say....? Exactly how to pronounce the spicy pork sausage has got viewers of Masterchef in a pickle. But is there a right way and a wrong way?

In Wednesday's episode, the velvety tones of the voiceover on the popular BBC One cooking show introduced a dish:

"Iberico pork with grilled calamari, served with chuh-REE-thoh jam, a chuh-REE-thoh and tomato puree, Asian pear and a dressed fennel salad."

It sounded delicious, but when its creator - the Michelin-starred chef Shaun Rankin - talked about the dish chu-REE-thoh had become shuh-REE-zoh, and Twitter was vexed.

Image source, Twitter/@Littlest79
Image source, Teitter/@jaxonmoran
Image source, Twitter/@CoryMacRae
Image source, Twitter/@LynneMcHugh

So who's right?

Martha Figueroa-Clark, a linguist in the BBC pronunciation unit for more than 10 years, says the question of how to say "chorizo" comes up a lot.

The usual pronunciation in English is chuh-REE-zoh, although chuh-REE-soh, chorr-EE-zoh and chorr-EE-soh (-orr as in sorry) are also certified as pronunciations in British dictionaries.

But in mimicking a European Spanish pronunciation, the "z" can also be pronounced as "th" as in 'think'. In Central and South American varieties of Spanish, the "z" is pronounced as "s" as in 'sit'.

One common mispronunciation is chuh-RITS-oh. Martha suggests this might come from people thinking it is an Italian word.

So how did Rankin get it wrong? Certainly, the chef, who grew up in Yorkshire and trained in kitchens around the world, will not be a stranger to the word.

Indeed, his food style at his restaurants in Jersey and Mayfair, central London, are influenced by European and Asian cooking.

Martha suggests he might have been influenced by the pronunciation of "ch" in French or Portuguese ("chouriço", pronounced shoh-REE-soo).

The problem often comes when two people on TV say the same word in different ways in a short space of time, drawing attention to the pronunciation.

She advises broadcasters to choose one pronunciation and stick to it.

Her team consults a range of dictionaries to establish the accepted pronunciations of words in English and advises broadcasters accordingly.

If the pronunciation of a foreign word is not yet established in English, they research the pronunciation and devise an anglicised form for BBC broadcasts.

Given the fuss about a sausage, the next time you're at your local Italian, you might want to keep the waiters happy by asking for a large glass of PEE-noh GREE-joh (-j as in Jack) with your bruusk-ET-uh (-uu as in book).

Image caption,
The BBC pronunciation guide says chuh-REE-zoh is the most established way to say chorizo

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