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Weekender: How do you pronounce Metz?

I called it “mets”, with an emphasis on the T, but Frédéric duly corrected me – it’s “mess”. Whaaaaat? But why?

*Gallic shrug*

“That’s just how it is.”

River Moselle

Stained-glass windows

So I did a little digging. The name had its (Celtic) origin in Mediomatrici, which was then shortened into Mettis, before finally settled on Metz. The T was certainly part of the pronounciation in the past. This changed during the period of German occupation of Metz between 1871 and 1918. Annexed to the German Empire, the occupiers’ guttural speech seemed to make the T more pronounced than ever. The unhappy people rebelled in their own little way by dropping the sound of the T and voilà – you’ve got “mess”! Obviously, the pronounciation persists to this day.

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