When did Americans start mispronouncing Z (zet) as Z (zee)?

When did Americans start mispronouncing Z (zet) as Z (zee)?

Jan 27, 2018
This happened somewhere along the road.

I think I remember the right pronunciation (zet) was still used in the 90s, but I might be wrong.

» 23 Answers

  • FAST6191 Best answer
    Jan 27, 2018

    1827 according to that, so unless it was the 1790s you are referring to.

    Equally I recall seeing the problem of sesame street rear its head in the 80s.
  • Memoir
    Jan 27, 2018
    I'm not sure what you mean "mispronouncing"... Zzzzzz
  • ThoD
    Jan 27, 2018
    Could just be after the Germans fled to the US:P

    But in all seriousness, it's as FAST linked. In reality, it started by an idiot who couldn't spell right deciding to write a spelling book...
  • BlackWizzard17
    Jan 27, 2018
    To my knowledge both words were used commonly in America after both being used IN england. Which one was more adopted as of today in America would be the obvious Zee and you would most likely find the same reason from my links just at the one FAST has provided above.
  • Saiyan Lusitano
    Jan 27, 2018
    Correction, it's pronounced zed not zet (sounds like set with a strong punch on the s). In Japanese they do say Z as Zetto, so I guess you got the zet from JPN. And in Spanish as Zetta (among other Latin European languages pronounce it Zetta/Zed whilst in Portuguese it's ze so it's kind of like zee).

    For example, the English spoken in Canada is mix and match so there some say zed and others say zee. Such as, Centre and Center in US the latter is commonly used but a few places may use the former, too.

    America is a country of immigrants with the British having colonized it and making English its idiom. The whole Zed vs Zee was probably due to various folks speaking in different languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, etc) and it caused an issue in which should have (not should of) been the official way to pronounce it.
    Jan 27, 2018
    Zet is mispronounced it's Zee
  • sarkwalvein
    Jan 27, 2018
    @Saiyan Lusitano You can say I got "Zet" from "Zeta" (Spanish), or also because "d" at the end of a word in English sounds closer to the Spanish "t" than to the Spanish "d" (alveolar vs dental).
    Still my bad, you're right, it's "Zed".

    @SANIC my reason for saying "zee" is the mispronounciation is the lack of consistency along different languages that use the Latin script, AFAIK in most of them the letter is pronounced something like zet/zed/zeh.
  • Xzi
    Jan 27, 2018
    My name is not Xzeti. That is kind of a cool name though.
  • SirNapkin1334
    Jan 27, 2018
    @SANIC @sarcwalvein it's not a mispronounciation, it's simply a difference, like 'boot' and 'trunk' for England and U.S. respectively.
  • WeedZ
    Jan 27, 2018
    I thought it was 'zed'
  • Eix
    Jan 27, 2018
    its pronounced xhe
    your not allowed to spell a letter using the letter
  • mech
    Jan 28, 2018
    Yup it’s zed,
  • SG854
    Feb 10, 2018
    @sarkwalvein I wouldn't call it mispronunciation, just a natural evolution of English and language in general.

    @FAST6191 Wow, look at that first comment in the article you linked. The one criticizing Americans for changing it.

    There is this article here that says British Accent changed dramatically over the past 2 centuries while the American accent only subtly changed. Which means that if you want to see how the British originally spoke you have to look at Modern Comtemporary American English and not Modern British English, since modern American English Accent is closer to how both spoke.

    But there is more to it that the article it isn't mentioning. Both American and British English changed and are different then how they spoke in the 1700's. There are words British dropped and changed and there are words Americans dropped and changed. There were also new words for Americans since they were in a different region and had to describe things that didn't exist in Britain. Neither regions dialect was conservative and evolved in ways that were the same and also different.

    @ThoD Linguist's don't like the concept of the correct way to speak because there is no such thing. Langauge constantly changes and evolves. The way American and Brits spoke in the 1700's is different then how their ancestors spoke in the 13th century. And go back further in the past its different and so on. It's not because a idiot couldn't spell, its much more than that.

    Another comparison of words changing for my point.... Why did Brits started speaking in Received Pronunciation and started to drop the R in words? Like for the word "hard", why do British pronounce it a "hahd"? Was it because British are idiots and couldn't pronounce right? Rhetorical questions. Americans pronounce the R word like how the British originally spoke in the 1700's. Both Brits and Americans were rhotic speakers, but the British changed it and became non-rhotic speakers dropping the R. And the Americans kept it the same rhotic way how originally Brits spoke. And it goes back to the top comment I made to FAST6191. Linguist don't see it as idiots changing language. There is no right and wrong in dialects, that'll be elitism.
  • FAST6191
    Feb 10, 2018
    "Linguist's don't like the concept of the correct way to speak because there is no such thing."
    There are what are called prescriptive linguists (for others reading the "just note things down as they evolve" mindset being called descriptive), though they tend not to exist for English outside of snarky remarks in comment sections and letters to newspaper editors. Compare on the other hand French which very much has those, and if you want to get deep into it then Quaranic Arabic is a whole thing to dive into. That said it sounds like linguistics is at least a hobby for you as well.

    "There is this article here that says British Accent changed dramatically over the past 2 centuries while the American accent only subtly changed."

    There is
    Though that was a few more than two centuries.

    That said there is no one British accent (English is not even the only language on the British Isles) and it could quite well vary from village to village, much less region to region. Much of that has been lost or at least severely downplayed. Today regions might still retain an accent which was either the dominant version for that region or a merger of them, and might well be unintelligible to those not versed in it all.

    For an example of one of them
    While that accent is severely diminished there are a few words that crop up from time to time as remnants.
  • Thirty3Three
    Feb 10, 2018
    I don't know what's more unsettling... the fact that you claim Americans are "mispronouncing" the letter, or that you, yourself, mispronounced the letter...
  • shadoom
    Feb 10, 2018
    This triggers the "american"
  • Stephano
    Feb 10, 2018
    'Zee' rhymes with 'V' in the alphabet song so it's superior to 'zet' ;P
  • WiiU
    Feb 10, 2018
    Never heard anyone pronounce it as "zet".
    I pronounce it as zed except in the case of the Movie "World War Z" as zee rolls of better than zed
  • Jayro
    Feb 12, 2018
    You know the ABC song? It would sound totally wrong if they said ZED instead of Zee. I've never heard it mispronounced as zed until YouTube became a thing.
  • Jayro
    Feb 12, 2018

    See how just pronouncing one letter wrong throws off the entire song?
  • Sophie-bear
    Feb 12, 2018
    Most English speaking countries also have a tendency to pronounce "H" like "haych", while in the US (and perhaps more places in North America), we pronounce it like "aych".
  • FAST6191
    Feb 12, 2018
    The aych vs haych thing is not a country thing in the UK. It is more of a sub regional thing within it. Usually lines up pretty well with those that pronounce castle as car-sul and cass-ul or bath as barth and baa th but it gets fun these days -- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-11642588

    @Jayro clearly never heard of slant rhyming.
  • Sophie-bear
    Feb 14, 2018
    Interesting. Most English media I tend to consume online (albeit, there's not a lot that I do) must tend to be on the haytch side of things.

    I don't mind alternate pronunciations as long as it's clear what the person is trying to say, personally.