This Is Why Americans Pronounce “Z” As “Zee” While British Pronounce It As “Zed”

Have you ever wondered why do Americans call “Z” as “Zee” when British call it “Zed”? Well, to be honest, it’s not just the British; the Americans are an exception here. The vast majority of English speaking countries will call it “Zed” and not “Zee”.

But how did we end up with this distinction?

Let’s find out. (the article continues after the ad)

Most languages will pronounce “z” as something close to “zed”; the French will say zède, the Spanish zeta and Germans zet. Of course, this comes as no surprise as all of these words are based on the Greek zeta (pronounced as zeeta, not zeta). This was also the case with English; the letter was pronounced as “zed” both in the United Kingdom and in all other English speaking countries. But then two important things happened in the US.

Influenced by the pronunciation of the letters “bee”, “cee”, “dee”, “eee”, “gee”, “pee”, “tee” and “vee”, Americans started to pronounce the letter “z” as “zee”. This was established in 1827 when Daniel Webster published the dictionary that would ultimately change the way British and Americans spell words (remember when we talked about Why British And Americans Spell Words Differently?) and would call it “zee” instead of “zed”. This was not the only reason though.

In 1835, the Alphabet song came out and, as we all know, it rhymed “z” with “me”. Because of the songs’ popularity the general public started massively calling “z” as “zee”. In fact, elementary school teachers had to re-teach children that “z” is correctly pronounced as “zed” despite previously teaching them the song that called it “zee”. However, because kids are naturally reluctant to these kind of changes, the pronunciation of “z” as “zee” grew up with generations and this is the reason why, even today, Americans call it that way when the rest of the English speaking countries call it “zed”.

If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: This Is Why British And Americans Spell Words Differently   

Photo: WestCoastPatriot
Photoshop: I’m A Useless Info Junkie
Sources: Zee vs. zed | The Wise Book of Why’s

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