Colleen posted the following comment recently:
I know I have a pizer on my house in Oriental, because my porch looks like yours in Ocracoke. My question is, how do you pronounce "pizer" and do you know where the word came from? Is it an Ocracoke word? I'm curious!"
"Pizer" has a long "i" and rhymes with "wiser." It is a local corruption of the Italian word, piazza, meaning "an arcaded and roofed gallery," or more particularly, a veranda or porch.
Ocracrokers often truncate words, change vowel sounds, and sometimes add "r" after vowels. So "Eliza" becomes "Lizer;" "Epherina" (an old-time island name) becomes "Freener;" "Armeda" (another island name) becomes "Meeter," and "caulk" becomes "cork." I suspect that piazza entered into the English language through contact with Italian sailors. On Ocracoke, over the years, the word was shortened, vowels changed, and an "r" sound was added to the end. The result is "pizer."
I know that some communities in eastern North Carolina use other variations of piazza (I'm sorry but I can't remember the particulars), but to my knowledge, only Ocracokers use "pizer."
My house & pizer:
You can read our latest newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news021806.htm. It's the story of the US Life Saving Station on Ocracoke and the wreck of the A.F. Crockett on February 17, 1885.