15 Nov 2012
THE ORIGIN OF "Z"
more participants at Jenny Matlock's Alphabet Thursday
Thanks to Alphabet Thursday my general knowledge was enlarged tremendously ! And if you read this post, yours will be too !!
I knew that Z (named zed) is the twenty-sixth and final letter of the (ISO ???) basic Latin alphabet. What I didn't know was the abreviation ISO. Madame Wikipedia knew of course ! It's the abreviation from International Organization for Standardization ! I feel already less stupid.
Continuing my investigations I also learned that Z is a Semitic symbol and was the seventh letter, named zayin which possibly meant "weapon". Now I had another problem what is "Semetic" ? Madame Wikipedia explained "In linguistics and ethnology, Semitic (from the Biblical "Shem", Hebrew: שם, translated as "name", Arabic: ساميّ)! Fortunately Blogger accepts Hebrew and Arabic writing ! What I couldn't find out was if the Z semitic symbol was at the end of a seven letter long alphabet, but I don't think this will cause me sleepless nights. For a chatterbox like me I only find it a little short.
In the 1st century BC, Z was introduced again at the end of the Latin alphabet to accurately represent the sound of the Greek zeta. The letter Z appeared only in Greek words, and is the only letter besides Y that the Romans took directly from Greek ! It was certainly not used very often if it was only used in Greek words, as more people spoke latin or latin dialects, which are called today French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. I too find it rather difficult to find nice words starting with a Z, which is the reason for this post.
In earlier times, the English alphabet used by children terminated not with Z but with & ! Now I wonder how & became the symbol of "and" ??? like Jones & Co ?
It's also an enigma to me why Z meant "weapon" in a semetic alphabet, and became the symbol for sleeping people or animals in the latin alphabet ?