Pistachio

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The pistachio nut, and tree from which it comes, is pronounced as it is written - but in different languages, the rules are different, producing different results.

  • In English, where the '-h-' as a rule makes the '-c-' soft, pistachio is usually pronounced 'pist-AtCH-i-oh' (IPA: /pɪs ˈtÉ‘pɪst ˈɑːtʃ ɪ əʊ/). The plural recommended by on-line Fowler is pistachios.
  • In Italian, which has given the form to English (the word first entered our language through the French pistace; both French and Italian derive through the classical Latin pistacium from Persian), the '-h-' has the opposite effect: it makes the '-c-' hard. The Italian pronunciation is 'pist-AHK-i-oh' (IPA: /pist ˈɑːk ɪ o/). (The Italian plural is pistacchi, 'pist-AHK-ee', /pist ˈɑːk iː/.)
Unless you want to sound knowledgeable or affected, AWE recommends that you use the English pronunciation and plural.
(This is different from the recommendation for radicchio.)