Z is the twenty-sixth and last letter of the modern
In most dialects of English, the letter's name is zed (pronEng|zɛd), reflecting its derivation from the Greek "zeta" (see below). In
American Englishdialects, its name is zee IPA|/ziː/, deriving from a late 17th-century English dialectal form. Another English dialectal form is izzard or izzed IPA|/ˈɪzɚd/, which dates from the mid-18th century and probably derives from the French "et zède" "and z". This is the predominant form in anglophone South Asia.
Indo-European languagespronounce the letter's name in a similar fashion, such as "zet" in Dutch, German, Romanian and Czech, "zède" in French, "zäta" in Swedish, "zeta" in Italian and Spanish, and "zê" in Portuguese.
In Chinese (Mandarin)
pinyinthe name of the letter Z is pronounced [tsɛ] .
In the Philippines, it is quite common to hear people pronounce the name of the letter Z as "zay" rhyming with "say".
The name of the
Semitic symbolwas " zayin", possibly meaning "weapon", and was the seventh letter. It represented either IPA|z as in English and French, or possibly more like IPA|/dz/ (as in Italian "zeta", "zero").
The Greek form of Z was a close copy of the Phoenician symbol I, and the Greek inscriptional form remained in this shape throughout ancient times. The Greeks called it "Zeta", a new name made in imitation of "Eta" (η) and "Theta" (θ).
In earlier Greek of
Athensand Northwest Greece, the letter seems to have represented IPA|/dz/; in Attic, from the 4th century BC onwards, it seems to have been either IPA|/zd/ or a IPA|/dz/, and in fact there is no consensus concerning this issue. In other dialects, as Elean and Cretan, the symbol seems to have been used for sounds resembling the English voiced and unvoiced "th" (IPA IPA|/ð/ and IPA|/θ/, respectively). In the common dialect (κοινη) that succeeded the older dialects, ζ became IPA|/z/, as it remains in modern Greek.
In Etruscan, "Z" may have symbolized IPA|/ts/; in Latin, IPA|/dz/. In early Latin, the sound of IPA|/z/ developed into IPA|/r/ and the symbol became useless. It was therefore removed from the alphabet around 300 BC by the Censor,
Appius Claudius Caecus, and a new letter, " G" was put in its place soon thereafter.
In the 1st century BC, it was, like "
Y", introduced again at the end of the Latin alphabet, in order to represent more precisely the value of the Greek "zeta" — previously transliterated as "S" at the beginning and "ss" in the middle of words, eg. "sona" = ζωνη, "belt"; "trapessita" = τραπεζιτης, "banker". The letter appeared only in Greek words, and "Z" is the only letter besides "Y" that the Romans took directly from the Greek, rather than Etruscan.
Vulgar Latin, Greek "Zeta" seems to have represented (IPA IPA|/dj/), and later (IPA IPA|/dz/); d was for IPA|/z/ in words like "baptidiare" for "baptizare" "baptize", while conversely "Z" appears for IPA|/d/ in forms like "zaconus", "zabulus", for "diaconus" "deacon", "diabulus", "devil". "Z" also is often written for the consonantal "I" (that is, "J", IPA IPA|/j/) as in "zunior" for "junior" "younger".
Until recent times, the
English alphabets used by children terminated not with "Z" but with "&" or related typographic symbols. George Eliotrefers to "Z" being followed by "&" 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."
A glyph variant of Z originating in the medieval
Gothic minuscules and the Early Modern Blacklettertypefaces is the "tailed z" (German "geschwänztes Z", also "Z mit Unterschlinge") In some Antiquatypefaces, this letter is present as a standalone letter or in ligatures. Together with long s, it is also the origin of the ßligature in German orthography.
A graphical variant of tailed Z is "Ezh", as adopted into the as the sign for the
voiced postalveolar fricative.
Unicode assigns codepoints for "BLACK-LETTER CAPITAL Z" and "FRAKTUR SMALL Z" in the
Letterlike Symbolsand Mathematical alphanumeric symbolsranges, at U+2128 script|Latf|ℨ and U+1D537 script|Latf|
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