Did 17th century Americans say "zee"

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NickM

NickM

Veteran
...when they meant "zed"? Or is it just a modern American affectation?
 

Tim Bennet.

Entirely Average Member
Location
S of Kendal
Lye's New Spelling Book (1677) was the first to list "zee" as a correct pronunciation.

It's generally assumed to be the result of the post revolution enthusiasm to embrace anything that differentiated the new American citizens from the 'official' British Colonial position on nearly everything. So adopting the speech idiosyncrasies of perhaps west country migrants or even immigrants from non English speaking areas, was done in a hope they could quickly sound as different as possible to their enemies 'the English'.

Obviously the reverse pressures where in play in Canada, so Zed has remained.
 

Tim Bennet.

Entirely Average Member
Location
S of Kendal
Lye's New Spelling Book (1677) was the first to list "zee" as a correct pronunciation.

It's generally assumed to be the result of the post revolution enthusiasm to embrace anything that differentiated the new American citizens from the 'official' British Colonial position on nearly everything. So adopting the speech idiosyncrasies of perhaps west country migrants or even immigrants from non English speaking areas, was done in a hope they could quickly sound as different as possible to their enemies 'the English'.

Obviously the reverse pressures where in play in Canada, so Zed has remained.
 
Tim Bennet. said:
Lye's New Spelling Book (1677) was the first to list "zee" as a correct pronunciation.

It's generally assumed to be the result of the post revolution enthusiasm to embrace anything that differentiated the new American citizens from the 'official' British Colonial position on nearly everything. So adopting the speech idiosyncrasies of perhaps west country migrants or even immigrants from non English speaking areas, was done in a hope they could quickly sound as different as possible to their enemies 'the English'.

Obviously the reverse pressures where in play in Canada, so Zed has remained.
How do you know that Tim?
 
Tim Bennet. said:
Lye's New Spelling Book (1677) was the first to list "zee" as a correct pronunciation.

It's generally assumed to be the result of the post revolution enthusiasm to embrace anything that differentiated the new American citizens from the 'official' British Colonial position on nearly everything. So adopting the speech idiosyncrasies of perhaps west country migrants or even immigrants from non English speaking areas, was done in a hope they could quickly sound as different as possible to their enemies 'the English'.

Obviously the reverse pressures where in play in Canada, so Zed has remained.
How do you know that Tim?
 

ChrisKH

Veteran
Location
Essex
His uncle is Bill Bryson.
 

Tim Bennet.

Entirely Average Member
Location
S of Kendal
A a long term resident of the US I was interested in why there were so many differences in the way we spoke. Although you are often greeted by 'hey I love your accent', in many situations the differences were a real block to effective communication. Words like traffic light, bumper, foul weather gear, casualty department, etc are not just different but are instead completely unintelligible. So I had to learn what was in effect, (albeit an easy) foreign language.

In the UK, we are now so exposed to these differences, that we are all intrinsically bilingual to a degree. But in the rural deep south, there has been no reciprocality to this exposure, and I was as foreign as anyone they had ever met. Learning useful phrases in local parlance, such as 'your dog sure has got a pretty arse', was a way of ingratiating myself with the locals.

Then what was a practical requirement, became an interest.
 

Tim Bennet.

Entirely Average Member
Location
S of Kendal
A a long term resident of the US I was interested in why there were so many differences in the way we spoke. Although you are often greeted by 'hey I love your accent', in many situations the differences were a real block to effective communication. Words like traffic light, bumper, foul weather gear, casualty department, etc are not just different but are instead completely unintelligible. So I had to learn what was in effect, (albeit an easy) foreign language.

In the UK, we are now so exposed to these differences, that we are all intrinsically bilingual to a degree. But in the rural deep south, there has been no reciprocality to this exposure, and I was as foreign as anyone they had ever met. Learning useful phrases in local parlance, such as 'your dog sure has got a pretty arse', was a way of ingratiating myself with the locals.

Then what was a practical requirement, became an interest.
 
Tim Bennet. said:
In the UK, we are now so exposed to these differences, that we are all intrinsically bilingual to a degree.
No, I fear that we're actually ending-up with people in this country becoming illiterate and inarticulate because they adopt US spellings and pronunciations

e.g. spelling it as 'curb' when they mean 'kerb' (and don't mean 'curb')
pronouncing 'defence' as DEEfence rathe than deaf-ence
 
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