CHAT letter names (was: CHAT Etruscana etc)
|From:||Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Monday, March 1, 2004, 6:38|
On Saturday, February 28, 2004, at 09:47 PM, Tristan McLeay wrote:
> --- Ray Brown <ray.brown@...> wrote:
>> On Friday, February 27, 2004, at 11:50 AM, John
>> Cowan wrote:
>>> It's also strange to realize
>>> that these letter-words have no standard spellings
>> whatsoever, yet they
>>> are standard words used (with the usual
>> variations) in all dialects.
>> Except 'zed'/'zee' :)
> And haich/aich.
No, no - that _is_ dialect variation or ideoloect variation. Both are
derived from the Old frencg [atS@]. The original Layin name was 'ha' which
would've given English *hay. But the Romans were dropping their aitches
like mad as early as the 1st cent. BCE. In an effort to keep [h] in the
name, it became [ahha]which became [akka] in the aitchless Vulgar Latin of
the 1st cent. CE.; and this had remained its name in Italy for the past
two thousand years.
This became [atS@] in Old French and our name is borrowed from the Norman
French. By normal sound changes it gives us our modern English /ejtS/, the
Welsh 'aets' and modern French [aS].
But, because the consonant is associated with /h/ in english (although our
spelling does make it do a lot of other jobs as well) some English
dialects and individual speakers have formed the hypercorrection /hejtS]
> But that's non-standard in most of the
> world so you'll all forget it, won't you? (It was, of
> course, till the abandonment of efforts of
> standardisation, non-standard here too, but it's
> considerably picked up among my age group in even the
> most formal of contexts, because we're never told it's
> wrong :)
It's not uncommon in Britain either. There was at time when pronouncing
the initial 'h' in 'hotel' was considered non-standard; now it would be
considered by most people no-standard not to pronounce the 'h' in that
word. So who knows? There may come a day when most of the anglophone world
does say [hejtS] and [ejtS] will be regarded as non-standard. You just
cant't tell with these things.
On Sunday, February 29, 2004, at 02:31 AM, John Cowan wrote:
> Ray Brown scripsit:[snip]
>> Except 'zed'/'zee' :)
> Umm, yeah. I wonder who invented "zee"? "Zed" is obviously < "zeta",
> so it must have been the older form.
Yes, zed is ultimately from Greek /ze:ta/ via Latin and Old French. Z was
originally part of the alphabet inherited from the Etruscans, being the
seventh letter; if the Romans had retained it, presumably the name
would've been *ez. But early and Classical Latin had no [z] sound, so the
letter was dropped and replace by the new letter G, formed by adding a
diacritic to C to denote the voiced sound.
Later, the Romans began borrowing words from Greek and the letters Y and Z
were also borrowed (or re-borrowed) and tacked onto the end with their
current Greek names /hy:/ and /ze:ta/. In Old French it was [zEd@]
(modern zède) and was introduce as such to English.
Old English did not have the phoneme /z/, the sound [z] being an allophone
of /s/ in Old English. It seems many dialects had trouble with initial [z]
(it's not exactly common even in modern English) and the names 'izzet'
and 'izzard' are recorded, but 'zed' has become standard in Britain.
'zee' seems to have been formed from dropping the [d@] of [zEd@], helped
obviously by analogy with names of B, C, D etc. I believe it was attested
as yet another variant here but has, of course, become standard in the US.
"A mind which thinks at its own expense will always
interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760