The Letter Z

March 30, 2008

The British call it “zed”. Americans call it “zee”. Filipinos, on the other hand, despite American indoctrination do not seem to agree how to call it. Some of us call it “zee” like the Americans. Some, however, call it “zay” (rhymes with ray).
I first noticed this fact back on my Freshman year in UP. I was staying at Kalayaan, a dormitory exclusive for freshmen. Residents of that dorm hailed from various regions of the country. So I decided to do a little data gathering to find out how others called it. This is the result of that sampling session:

Region I “zee” = 1 “zay” = 6
Region II “zee” = 0 “zay” = 2
Region III “zee” = 1 “zay” = 4
Region IV “zee” = 4 “zay” = 2
Region V “zee” = 3 “zay” = 2
Region IX “zee” = 1 “zay” = 0
Region X “zee” = 2 “zay” = 0
Region XI “zee” = 2 “zay” = 0
Region XII “zee” = 4 “zay” = 0
CAR “zee” = 0 “zay” = 1
NCR “zee” = 6 “zay” = 0

So it seems that nobody from the southern regions called it “zay” hence, my surprise then at hearing the letter pronounced that way. Truth be told, I felt as if fingernails were scratching at a blackboard whenever I heard “zay” being mentioned. I adapted after a long while. I no longer felt grossed out by it, only a little bit distracted, but I still had a slightly controllable urge to correct its pronounciation.
About 7 years later, I was reminded of this fact again after hearing Lozada testify about the ZTE deal. He always said “zay-tee-eee” instead of “zee-tee-eee”. It came as no surprise when I found out that he hails from Region V. This prompted me to dig out the mini survey I did 7 years ago.

PS NCR people should not feel cocky about their “proper” pronunciation of the letter Z. I have a friend who is a true blue Manila boy who pronounces it as “zay”.

PPS **y, if you’re still reading my blog, I’m referring to you. =P. I never told you that it felt a little distracting to hear you calling that letter as “zay”. So consider this as my succumbing to the “slightly controllable urge to correct its pronunciation”. Of course, you don’t have to follow it… ;p.

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