Schiavo: Why pronounced "Shy-vo"?

I know, because that’s how the family pronounces it.

But where did this pronunciation come from? When I first heard about the story, and glanced only briefly at the name, I assumed it was spelled “Schaivo”, since that would jibe with the long “i” sound.

I know people changed (or had changed) their surname spellings/pronuciations when they immigrated to the US–to wit my own relatives, who pronounced their surname (Scaccia) as “Skay-shuh” when I imagine the original Italian was closer to “Scotch-ee-ya”.

But who put the Shy in Schiavo? Has it just been compressed (from Shy-a-vo)? Or was it “skya-vo” or something originally, and they just said the heck with it upon entering the US?

Holy crap. I didn’t even see the current thread on mispronouncing Italian-American names. ( )

Mods, you can close this at your leisure.

But it’s not closed yet, so…

The only Schiavo family I have known pronounces it “Skee AH vo”.

This bugs the crap outa me too!

I can see pronouncing it SHY a vo, SHE ah vo, or she AH vo, but SHY vo seems to be an easy way of removing a syllable.

If the family wants to pronounce it that way, fine. That doesn’t make much sense as far as American pronunciation goes though. I’m also thinking that Schiavo isn’t exactly an American name, hence the simplified pronunciation. IMO

The ‘ia’ in this case is a dipthong, or two vowels that make a single sound (not to be confused with a ‘dipping thong’, or low-riding sexy underwear).

The ‘ia’ make the ‘Y’ sound, so SHY-vo makes sense to me.

My real first name, for example, has a dipthong; Neil. the ‘ei’ makes the sound of a long ‘E’, the name isn’t pronounced ‘KNEE-ill’ (or KNEE-al’ in the case of the spelling ‘Neal’ or ‘NIGH-al’ with the proper Celtic spelling of’Niall’)

My wife, however, does have a few of those other dipthongs, but I’m not here to hijack anything.

Except that the “ia” does not normally make the “EYE” diphthong in English or any other language I could think of.

Like I said in the other thread, to me the most plausible explanation is that someone pronounced the name as “shy-AY-vo” (which does follow normal English pronunciation) and eventually the “AY” simply elided out, yielding “SHY-vo.”

Hmm, not here to hijack anything. I bet Niall of the Nine Hostages. said that too. :slight_smile: for those who think I have typing complete gibberish.

In fact, it was only partly much gibgerish, and I am sorry - I honestly did come into the thread to learn about “Schiavo”.

FTR I was the one that opened the other thread that was mentioned. To me it looks as though whoever started pronouncing it that way was following the age-old rule taught to elementary school students, “when two vowels go walking the first one does the talking.” The ‘i’ comes first, so it’s pronounced, and the ‘a’ is silent.

Why is Lafavre pronounced la-FARV?

Why do people pronounce names ending with -stein, ‘steen’? (Stein means ‘stone’ in German, and in German ie is pronounced ‘ee’ while ei is pronounced ‘eye’.)

Why does a guy I know whose name is Ensign, pronounce it EN-sine?

Just the way people choose to pronounce them, I guess.

I know some of her extended family (her in-laws) who hail from the Philadelphia area.

That prononuciation is consistent with how the family name is/was pronounced in this area.

I don’t know how Schiavo is pronounced by Italians and others around the country/world, but I can tell you as a born and bred Italian from Philly, that is a Philly prononciation all the way.

My namesake, but my parents preferred the ‘western’ spelling

Over the centuries many german merchants traded in and eventually settled in Russia. I was told that russians have problems pronouncing the “eye” in stein, so it became “steen”. This info was relayed to me by someone named “Steinberger” with an “eye”. :slight_smile:


Except it’s not ‘trile’ (rhymes with ‘tile’); it’s ‘try-al’.

Actually, there we go. “Trial,” “vial,” “dial,” etc… All have valid one-syllable pronunciations with a long-i sound. (As per

Standard Italian pronunciation would dictate a pronunciation of “Skyavo”, I don’t know about regional variations, but this is definitely the standard pronunciation.

(The word means “slave” in Italian.)

stein = steen like Eensteen ?
ei = ee as in Eesenhower ?