1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Did 17th century Americans say "zee"

Discussion in 'CycleChat Cafe' started by NickM, 16 Nov 2007.

  1. NickM

    NickM Veteran

    ...when they meant "zed"? Or is it just a modern American affectation?
     
  2. OP
    OP
    NickM

    NickM Veteran

    ...when they meant "zed"? Or is it just a modern American affectation?
     
  3. Tim Bennet.

    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.
     
  4. Tim Bennet.

    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.
     
  5. How do you know that Tim?
     
  6. How do you know that Tim?
     
  7. OP
    OP
    NickM

    NickM Veteran

    Well I knew somebody would know ;)
     
  8. OP
    OP
    NickM

    NickM Veteran

    Well I knew somebody would know ;)
     
  9. ChrisKH

    ChrisKH Shorts Adjustment Expert

    Location:
    Essex
    His uncle is Bill Bryson.
     
  10. ChrisKH

    ChrisKH Shorts Adjustment Expert

    Location:
    Essex
    His uncle is Bill Bryson.
     
  11. Tim Bennet.

    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.
     
  12. Tim Bennet.

    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.
     
  13. Fnaar

    Fnaar Smutmaster General

    Location:
    Thumberland
    Yes, and if you're ever working in the US, suspenders and pants are just fine for the office. ;)
     
  14. Fnaar

    Fnaar Smutmaster General

    Location:
    Thumberland
    Yes, and if you're ever working in the US, suspenders and pants are just fine for the office. ;)
     
  15. 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