1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Z

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20368711911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 28 — ZPeter Giles

Z the twenty-sixth letter of the English alphabet and the last, although till recent times the alphabets used by children terminated not with z but with &, or 🙵. For & the English name is ampersand, i.e. “and per se and,” though the Scottish name epershand, i.e.Et, per se and,” is more logical and also more clearly shows its origin to be the Latin et, of which it is but the manuscript form. To the following of z by & George Eliot refers when she makes Jacob Storey say, “He thought it (z) had only been put to finish off th' alphabet like, though ampusand would ha' done as well, for what he could see.” Z is put at the end of the alphabet because it occupied that position in the Latin alphabet. In early Latin the sound represented by z passed into r, and consequently the symbol became useless. It was therefore removed from the alphabet and G (q.v.) put in its place. In the 1st century B.C. it was, like y, introduced again at the end, in order to represent more precisely than was before possible the value of the Greek Ζ, which had been previously spelt with s at the beginning and ss in the middle of words: sona = ζώνη, “belt”; tarpessita = τραπεζίτης, “banker.” The Greek form was a close copy of the Phoenician symbol , and the Greek inscriptional form remained in this shape throughout. The name of the Semitic symbol was Zayin, but this name, for some unknown reason, was not adopted by the Greeks, who called it Zeta. Whether, as seems most likely, Zeta was the name of one of the other Semitic sibilants Zade (Tzaddi) transferred to this by mistake, or whether the name is a new one, made in imitation of Eta (η) and Theta (θ), is disputed. The pronunciation of the Semitic letter was the voiced s, like the ordinary use of z in English, as in zodiac, raze. It is probable that in Greek there was a considerable variety of pronunciation from dialect to dialect. In the earlier Greek of Athens, North-west Greece and Lesbos the pronunciation seems to have been zd, in Attic from the 4th century B.C. onwards it seems to have been only a voiced s, and this also was probably the pronunciation of the dialect from which Latin borrowed its Greek words. In other dialects, as Elean and Cretan, the symbol was apparently used for sounds resembling the English voiced and unvoiced th (ð, þ). In the common dialect (κοινή) which succeeded the older dialects, ζ became a voiced s, as it remains in modern Greek. In Vulgar Latin the Greek Ζ seems to have been pronounced as dy and later y; di being found for z in words like baptidiare for baptizare, “baptize,” while conversely z appears for di in forms like zaconus, zabulus, for diaconus, “deacon,” diabulus, “devil.” Z also is often written for the consonantal I (J) as in zunior for iunior, “younger” (see Grandgent, Introduction to Vulgar Latin, §§ 272, 339). Besides this, however, there was a more cultured pronunciation of z as dz, which passed through French into Middle English. Early English had used s alone for both the unvoiced and the voiced sibilant; the Latin sound imported through French was new and was not written with z but with g or i. The successive changes can be well seen in the double forms from the same original, jealous and zealous. Both of these come from a late Latin zelosus, derived from the imported Greek ζῆλος. Much the earlier form is jealous; its initial sound is the dz which in later French is changed to z (voiced s). It is written gelows or ielous by Wycliffe and his contemporaries, the form with i is the ancestor of the modern form. The later word zealous was borrowed after the French dz had become z. At the end of words this z was pronounced ts as in the English assets, which comes from a late Latin ad satis through an early French asez, “enough.” With z also is frequently written zh, the voiced form of sh, in azure, seizure. But it appears even more frequently as s before u, and as si or ti before other vowels in measure, decision, transition, &c., or in foreign words as g, as in rouge. For the ȝ representing g and y in Scottish proper names see under Y.  (P. Gi.)