Matzo - Forms of The Word

Forms of The Word

Spelling in English varies, as the word is a transliteration from Hebrew. Pronunciation also varies; there is no approved "correct" spelling and pronunciation. Spellings listed in the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary include matzo, matzah, matso, motsa, motso, maẓẓo, matza, matzho, matzoh, mazzah, motza, and mozza. The plural is given as matsot, matsoth, matzot, matzoth, (irreg.) matzoths, mazzot, and mazzoth; the regular English plural, added "s", is also used. Israelis and Sefaradim pronounce the second vowel like English "ah"; Ashkenazi pronunciation is like "oh". This is a general difference in pronunciation of this Hebrew vowel, and is reflected in the variant English transliterations. Various translations into English of the Hebrew Bible use different spellings, or translate the Hebrew into "unleavened bread" or "unleavened cakes" (azymes is found in some old translations). Yiddish usage, also found in English, is matse and matses.

Azymes is an archaic English word for matzah, derived from the Koine Greek word "ἄζυμος" (ázymos: "unleavened") for unfermented bread in Biblical times. This word is not used in modern English—the Hebrew word is transliterated instead—but cognates of it are still used in many Romance languages (Spanish pan ácimo, French pain azyme, Italian azzimo, Romanian azimă). It was the usual word for unleavened bread in the early Catholic English Douay-Rheims Bible.

In English some nouns are used for things that cannot be counted, and some for things that can. For example, we do not normally speak of "three breads", or "a kilo of loaf". All the forms of matzo are used in both senses: "three matzos", "a kilo of matza".

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