Date: Mon, 30 Jun 1997 20:42:34 -0400

From: Gregory {Greg} Downing downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]IS2.NYU.EDU

Subject: Re: Agita

Forgot to mention, for those who might not know -- Italian acido is

pronounced ah-chee-doh, accent on the first syllable. Italian immigrants to

NYC, being largely from southern Italy, used regional Italian pronunciations

that were also soon altered by the influence of English when only an

occasional Italian word was being used. The first intervocalic consonant

would be voiced not voiceless (thus becoming something that would be written

"g" in English), the middle vowel was anglicized into the English i in

"bit," and the final vowel became a schwa. So Italian "ah-chee-doh" became

Italian-American, with a pronunication something like "ah-jih-duh" (hence

the spelling "agita" given in the query). That's how my wife's grandmother

pronounced it, and both her parents were native speakers of Italian who'd

married near Benevento and lived on the Lower East Side of Manhattan (Oliver

Street, later Catherine Street) in the first quarter of the 20th century.

I imagine the idea of being agitated was involved in the semantic and

phonetic development of acido into "agita" (or whatever the "proper"

spelling of it is), as the sound and sense of acido ( = worry/annoyance) and

agita(tion) interacted.

Greg Downing/NYU

greg.downing[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]