Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Origins of "ZEE"

The majority of the English-speaking world has the same pronunciation of the letter "Z". "Zed," they say. Americans, however, have started pronouncing the letter as "Zee" which, by all accounts is incorrect. Why, you may ask, did America suddenly decide to pronounce a whole letter differently than the rest of the world? Well, based on my research, it has a lot to do with the education system. Kidding. It does have to do with a very simple song: THE ALPHABET SONG!!!!!! YAYYYYYY! As the result of "V" being the last syllable in the second last stanza "QRSTUV," the last stanza "WXYZ" sounds funny when you pronounce it "Zed" because it doesn't rhyme with "V." Believe it or not, the pronunciation is traced solely back to Sesame Street, 1971 when the song was purposefully changed to the incorrect "Zee." It was apparently a joke, but so many inner city children, who later became basketball players (probably) started to pronounce it that way that "The Man" couldn't change it back. And there you have it - Sesame Street changed the world!

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Rev. Qelqoth said...

Who'd have thunk it? :)

Ben said...

Your knock on the American education system makes allows me to poke fun at your Canadian "research."

Your end justifies the means, but it is, unfortunately, quite incorrect. Yes, the Sesame Street alphabet song was designed to change the pronunciation, but only because we wanted to avoid sounding like Brits, hippies, or Canadians.

Here's a quote from another site I like to visit. You should probably do some fact-checking there sometime prior to posting:

'Lye's New Spelling Book (1677) was the first to list "zee" as a
correct pronunciation, and it was pretty much firmed up by Webster, who, like grammarians all over the former Empire, wanted to put the kibosh on all this "izzard" nonsense, and decreed "it is pronounced zee" (1827).'


Do I need to call you out on some other stuff? I'd better go check.

Vlad said...

I checked out your claim - LIES! Nice try, Ben. We'll meet again...