Muffoletta FAQ: frequently asked questions
First posted 3 July 2003 at 1840 GMT
Last updated 23 July 2003 at 0334 GMT
By Joe O'Connell,
LOS ANGELES, California, USA — Frequently asked questions about
muffoletta bread, sandwich and salad -- as well as related questions --
are set forth here, with their answers.
The word muffoletta (and its many spelling variations) cause
countless debates and (false) urban legends. Some (non)
authorities claim that the word originated in New Orleans; others
claim that the word comes from muffo, meaning a type of mold.
This FAQ answers the most frequently asked questions about the muffoletta.
Of all the questions about muffoletta, the most frequently asked is:
The correct spelling is muffoletta. The word is derived
from the Sicilian/Italian word muffola, which means a fingerless
mitten, with the diminutive suffix etta, which provides a small
and endearing connotation.
Alternate spellings are incorrect but common and understandable.
They are understandable because the correct word requires the
pronunciation of four different vowels in a single word -- 'a', 'e', 'o'
and 'u' -- and this is difficult for the tongue. As a result,
mispronunciation is common: the sound of the first 'u' carries
over to the second vowel, so the word becomes muffuletta, which
is one of the most common alternate spellings. Other
mispronunciations cause other misspellings.
The word muffoletta is misspelled in almost every conceivable
way. For example, the second vowel, 'o', is often replaced with
another vowel, so the word becomes:
- muffoletta (this is the correct spelling)
The third vowel, 'e', is similarly replaced with other vowels:
Notice that the spellings above share the second vowel, 'a'.
Additional spellings result from changing the second vowel, such as:
Similar changes are made by substituting the second vowel with 'i',
'o' and 'u', but all those permutations will not be listed here.
There are three other noteworthy changes that result in common
misspellings. Many times, the double 't' is replaced by a single
't', as in muffoleta. Sometimes the last vowel is dropped
entirely (when it follows a single 't'), or the last vowel is often
changed, with these common replacements:
Rarely are the first four letters changed in a misspelling, so a
mathematical analysis shows that, by changing the second vowel in five
ways, the thrid vowel in five ways, the 't's in two ways, and the last
vowel in 6 ways (which includes now vowel), there are thousands of
Few words in any language are so often misspelled.
The 41 most common ways to spell muffoletta (as determined by a
Google search, with the number of hits shown in parentheses) are shown
Note: the correct spelling of muffoletta ranks only 18th
on the list. This means that misspellings occur much more
frequently than correct spellings.
The rankings of the spellings (and the number of Internet websites
for each) include:
- muffoletto (3,820)
- muffuletta (3,300)
- muffaletta (2,730)
- muffeletta (277)
- muffalata (207)
- muffaleta (144)
- muffalatta (137)
- muffalotta (95)
- muffaletto (86)
- muffelata (79)
- muffuletto (78)
- muffelatta (76)
- muffeleta (63)
- muffeletto (63)
- muffuleta (46)
- muffolette (43)
- muffuletti (35)
- muffoletta (32) ==> the correct spelling is only the 18th
most common spelling (at least on the Internet)
- muffulata (20)
- muffulette (15)
- muffoleto (15)
- muffalette (10)
- muffoletti (10)
- muffolatta (8)
- muffalota (6)
- muffaleto (6)
- muffalet (6)
- muffolata (5)
- muffolet (5)
- muffeleto (4)
- muffulet (3)
- muffiletta (2)
- muffolotta (2)
- muffelette (2)
- muffalita (1)
- muffelotta (1)
- muffulotta (1)
- muffalutta (1)
- muffaletti (1)
- muffelet (1)
Source: Google search on the word alone,
conducted on 14 July 2003.
Joe O'Connell is senior research specialist for Muffoletta Ltd.,
the official resource for information about the authentic muffoletta.