Zee versus Zed

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by madanthonywayne, Aug 13, 2009.

  1. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

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    I've noticed that every Engljsh speaking country from Canada to Nigeria seems to pronounce the letter "Z" as "zed"; except the US. How did this come about? And which came first, Zee or Zed? And do any other countries favor the "Zee" pronunciation?
     
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Good question. It's "zed" in Australia, too.
     
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  5. Anti-Flag Pun intended Registered Senior Member

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    Seeing as Zed is the British pronounciation I would imagine that came before the American Zee. I'm sure fraggle will correct us though.
     
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  7. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

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    English was not a tremendously unified language in England in centuries past. Not only did people have different words for the same thing:

    "eggs" and "eggys" and "eyren" or

    "church" (also spelled churche, cherche, chirche, cherch, schyrche, chireche and other ways) versus kirk (also spelled kerk and kyrk). "Kirk" is not mostly limited to Scotland but was once more wide spread.

    Into that mess came "zeta" the Greek letter. "Zed grew to be the dominanyt pronunciation, but English speakers don't follow as many rules as some would like so there were variants like "zee" (dating to as early as 1677), "ezod," "izzard," and "zod".

    Just as British slowly became more unified (and settled on "zed") the same thing happened in American English, but we did it away from the British influence that settled the question in most other english-speaking nations.
     
  8. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

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    I dunno but I don't like Americans hiring in Canada trying to correct my english. "Honours vs Honors", when in Rome guys...

    I think I'm done with working for American companies anyway.
     
  9. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

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    The "u" in words like "honour" and "color" were dropped in various places at various times, but became standard in America as a result of Websters 1828 English dictionary and a related grammar book, which became the staple by which children were taught.

    Be glad, as the British wanted you to use "neighbour," "behaviour," "emperour," "armour" etc. I am not sure why they adopted changes so piecemeal.
     

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