Z

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by mathman, Feb 24, 2016.

  1. mathman Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,434
    I'm sure it has been discussed before, but I don't have an answer.

    Z is pronounced "zee" in the U.S. and "zed" in the U.K. How this difference come about?
     
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,690
    The name of the letter is more like its British name in most other languages that use the Roman alphabet, for example zeta (pronounced THAY-tah) in Castilian Spanish and zet (pronounced tsett) in German. All of these forms are, of course, derived from the letter's Greek name, zeta, which is pronounced ZAY-tah. (My phonetic transcriptions are not perfect because it would be too much work.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    )

    The early Americans made a big deal about establishing American English as a distinct dialect of English, so they deliberately changed a lot of words or simply replaced them with new ones.

    We did the same thing with our spelling. British colour, centre became American color, center.
     
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,964
    Aluminium > Aluminum

    I always figured Americans are lowering the bar, so they they can make claims of high literacy.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,690
    The original name of the element was "alumium."

    Today in the anglophone countries, "aluminum" and "aluminium" are used roughly by the same number of scientists and reporters. However, if you want to count countries, "aluminum" has only two: USA and Canada. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and all the other English-speaking countries write "aluminium."

    I don't know which spelling is more popular in India, the largest English-speaking nation. They inherited British English from their overlords, but since independence many Indians have been compulsively switching to American grammar, spelling and vocabulary.
    Oddly enough, information technology has increased the amount of time people spend reading and writing, so it can (strangely) be given credit for a worldwide increase in literacy.

    Now if you want to talk about spelling, that's a quite different story.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  8. mathman Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,434
    colour -> color and centre -> center and other similar changes were deliberately made by Noah Webster (Webster's dictionary). I don't believe he had anything to do with zed -> zee.
     
  9. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,454
    "Zee" had been in usage before Webster - as far back as 1677 it seems, in Lye's "New Spelling Book" - and while some variation still existed for a long while, Webster effectively put his seal of approval on "Zee" by including it in his dictionary (1827), and it was further popularised by the alphabet rhyming song (1835) - the one that rhymes Z with "Gee", "Pee", "Vee" and "me".
     
  10. mathman Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,434
    If "zee" was around since 1677, when and how did the separation from "zed" occur?
     
  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,454
    Most likely simply as part of dialectic differences within the British Isles, and Zee became popularised in the US while Zed remained the dominant form in the UK.
     

Share This Page