Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I've seen and heard this at various times:

It's a-me! [first name]!

(Most of the time, seemingly as a reference to Mario.) I was wondering what the intent was behind the construction "a-me".

Is it just to transcribe an Italian accent? In that case, what is it about it that sounds Italian to a native English speaker?

Or maybe is it conveying something more, like perhaps a lack of education?

share|improve this question
12  
Actually, transcribing an Italian accent, I would probably write It's-a me. Done that way because our mythical Italian is not used to words ending in consonants. –  GEdgar Sep 29 '11 at 15:09
    
Thanks, that explanation is really what I was looking for! If you give it as an answer I can accept it. –  Philippe Sep 30 '11 at 9:05

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

The phonotactics of Italian does not include a sequence -tsm-, therefore Italian speakers naturally pronounce it dropping a vowel between -ts- (rendered as [ʦ] as in "razza", 'race' /ˈraʦʦa/ or, in phonemic notation, [ˈratːsˑa]) and -m-. The standard epenthetic vowel in Italy is [e]: e.g. in Tuscan, "sport" is, again, naturally pronounced [ˈspɔrte].

Epenthesis is a widespread phonetic phenomenon in substandard speech across Italy.

share|improve this answer
    
+1, though I have to point out that razza is not pronounced [ˈraʦʦa] (that would have a non-allowed sequence of two fricatives after each other and would, by epenthesis, become [ˈraʦeʦa]), but rather [ˈraʦːa]. :-) –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 22 '13 at 9:14
    
That is definitely true. In fact, my transcription was not accurate, since I included it in square brackets (phonetic notation); so yours is the right one. However, if we were to transcript it in phonological terms, it would be correct to note it as /ˈraʦʦa/. I'll correct my answer. :-) If any of you can read Italian, I suggest you take a look at this post. –  Giorgiomastrò Aug 9 '13 at 14:50

from comment to answer ...

Actually, transcribing an Italian accent, I would probably write It's-a me. Done that way because our mythical Italian is not used to words ending in consonants.

share|improve this answer
3  
If I as an Italian had to transcribe it, it would rather be "It's-e me". But that's because our 'e' is pronounced ɛ, and that's the sound we apparently accidentally put at the end of English words. –  badp Nov 5 '11 at 16:04

It's always attributed to Mario because he would say that in Super Mario 64 (audio)... When you started up the game, he would say "It's a-me, Mario"... There are likely other places that used this, but this is the reason it's attributed to Mario.

Admittedly, I have heard it used as a terrible Italian accent, but Gen Y grew up hearing it on video games :)

share|improve this answer
1  
...the younger half of Gen X as well. –  T.E.D. Sep 29 '11 at 13:03
1  
Please note that as @GEdgar says in the comment, it's "It's-a me, Mario" not "It's a-me, Mario". –  Kimvais Sep 29 '11 at 18:33

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.