Today’s the last day of April and the last day of the A-to-Z meme. I thought I’d pay tribute to the lowly ‘z’, last in line in the alphabet and at one point, eliminated from the alphabet by the Roman Censor Claudius Appius Caecus. According to an interesting article at dictionary.com :
His justification was that z had become archaic: the pronunciation of /z/ had become /r/ by a process called rhotacism, rendering the letter z useless.
Later, the Romans brought it back, but only for words of Greek origin. The letter ‘z’ is one of only two that came directly from Greek (the Greek letter ‘zeta’), rather than Etruscan.
In American English, the letter is pronounced “zee” — a pronunciation common in 17th century English English, which was probably brought here by the Pilgrims and their contemporaries. Of course, the rest of the English speaking world tends to pronounce it ‘zed’. This latter version is almost certainly a variant of ‘zeta’, and thus, perfectly understandable. A Canadian gentleman by name of Bill Casselman has a brief history of ‘zee/zed’ here
that you might enjoy reading. (I apologize for my idiot countrymen who ran the spelling bee, Mr. Casselman. We’re not all so Amerocentric.)
And that’s the end of the A-to-Z meme. I might go looking for another one to push me to post to this blog! 🙂 Thanks to everyone who took time to read my posts.