Here is a reprint of one of my favorite posts at Tarotchoco. It is a text from Zig, the Italian tarologue with whom I exchanged mails for many years.
¨Tarocchi is neither florentine nor milanese, it’s just plain standard Italian pronounced by every Italian « taròkki »! A double « c » is always pronounced, as in French « accent ». If it’s followed by an « h », it simply means that it has to be pronounced as a « k » and not as the « ch » of « chess ».
I repeat, this is the standard Italian rule for every Italian word.
By the way, the singular of tarocchi is tarocco (pronounce taròkko), if that may be of any use. It’s true that in Tuscany people aspire the « h »s but not when an « h » (which in Italian is mute) serves to harden a « c » or a « g ». For example, the Italian word for house, casa, is pronounced by Florentines as hasa (with an aspirated « h »), the word cosa (what) is said hosa, and so on. They substitute the initial hard « c » with an aspirated « h », this is their dialect, and no other italian ever pronounces words like that, nor did they in the past.
So let’s forget Florentine dialect (in Florence they didn’t use tarocchi, but minchiate, pronounce minkiàte). The problem now is: did the French word come first, or did the Italian one? I suppose the French one was first, tarot (or tarots) and when arriving in Italy it followed the destiny of many foreign words. Italians heard it but didn’t see it written, and when they wrote it down they did it accordingly to their language rules.
Why add a suffix « cco »? Simply because Italians don’t like words with the accent on the last syllabe, as with every French word so they almost always add a suffix to keep the original accented syllabe but to avoid the final accent. Maroc becomes Marocco, for example. This doesn’t apply, though, with words coming from latin: each one of the sister languages, French and Italian, transforms these words according to their taste.
Having added a suffix « cco » (that sounds good in Italian) the logical plural form is « cchi », for the male gender is always « o » in singular and « i » in plural (the female has « a » and « e » respectively).
There’s no mystery at all, in my opinion, no fancy pronouncing in tschi or in German-like ich (I speak also German, ich is like ish in Muenchen but it’s like ik in Hamburg, so what?).
I may add, just for fun, that in current Italian tarocco means also: a special flavor of oranges of Sicily (arance tarocco, very good), and a fake, something not original (this stereo is a tarocco, i.e. it plays poor sound, it has been made in Naples and not in Japan…). Don’t ask me the reason of these two additional meanings. I don’t know! (but I know how to pronounce tarocco/cchi).
Bye, buon 1 maggio,
And this is the last I heard from Zig. In a previous exchange, he explained to me that at the time of Suger, Lombardy was not exporting it’s culture to France, it was importing it, heavily. This is confirmed by Émile Mâle who explains in great details that France exported its goods, its art, its pilgrims via La Via Franca, North to South.
It is at that time, it is how Tarot became tarocco, an ersatz.
For close to half a century now a lesser breed of misguided Renaissance scholars have munched on a Tarot bone, a theory of origin … made in Napoly !