Monday, January 10, 2011

Is Zebra Destined to Become Xebra?

The last letter of our Roman alphabet is Z, a consonant that can seem racy and elusive or just plain disadvantaged. – David Sacks

I evidently missed this announcement when it was first released, but it caught my attention when did the Best of Daily Writing Tips in 2010.

The article, “The Letter “Z” Will Be Removed from the English Alphabet,” by Daniel Scocco caused my mouth to gape in disbelief. “Tell me it isn’t so,” I whispered to my computer.

I happen to like the letters in our alphabet – all 26 of them. And who could not possibly love the Z? Part of the Phoenician alphabet, it’s been around since about 1000 B.C.

The article included a quote from the press release from English Language Central Commission (ELCC) saying,

“After carefully considering and debating the matter for over two years, the ELCC came to the conclusion that the letter “Z” should be removed from the English alphabet. The main objective of this change is to simplify the phonetic aspect of the language, and to unify the American and British spellings.”

According to David Sacks author of Letter Perfect,

“The potential indignity of being the alphabet’s caboose is compounded by one real weakness: Z is, on the average, the least-used letter in printed English. Of the 26 letters, Z finishes last in this race, too, behind Q and X, For every 1,000 appearances by E (our most-used letter), Q appears about 50 times, X 44, and Z a measly 22.

“No wonder Z has been called superfluous, mere excess baggage. In Shakespeare’s King Lear (A.D. 1605), the irascible Earl of Kent insults the fatuous courtier Oswald, calling by the British name for Z: ‘Thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter!’”

Is this how the ELCC felt about the last letter in our alphabet? Is this why they came up with the ridiculous idea of deleting “Z” completely?

Before allowing my blood pressure to climb to a deadly high, I decided to look up this commission. That’s when I discovered that Daniel Scocco is a bit of a jokester.

“Whew!” I said to the empty room. "That was a close one."

I know better than to believe everything I read online. I mean, I wasn’t born yesterday (what an understatement) and I fell for it big time. After all, I read the article on a site I visit often and trust, the press release looked legit, and there were examples such as how zero would become xero and visualize would soon be visualise.

What didn’t register was the date of the original article – April 1. The article was an April fool’s gag. Good one, Daniel!

So rest easy - the letter “Z” has nothing to fear.

Have you ever fallen for an internet gag?

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope to see you again next week.

Tags: David Sacks, King Lear, letter Z, English Language Central Commission, alphabet,


L. Diane Wolfe said...

For a moment, I thought it was for real, too!

Old Kitty said...

Well I fell for this as I was reading your blog!!! LOL!!!

Phew!!! I love the letter z!!!

Take care

Carol Kilgore said...

The best thing about an internet gag is they're easy to check out right away with just a click. And yeah, I've fallen for them, too. For a minute.

Karen Walker said...

Me, too, Jane. I am so gullible, I fall for pretty much everything I read. Sigh!

Joanne said...

That's a good one. I had my doubts, though, as I read along. I mean, what would happen to our Zoos? And Zebras? I'm glad it izn't true ;)

Darcia Helle said...

I thought it was true as I was reading your blog. Committees and various oddballs have pushed through crazier rules! After all, isn't it still illegal in some part of Kentucky to carry an ice cream cone in your pocket? :)

DazyDayWriter said...

An internet gag ... good way to put it, Jane! I'm sure I have fallen prey to internet gags ... and after reading this will be more alert! Thanks for the post. Hope your week is filled with joy! Daisy

Helen Ginger said...

I'm reading this and thinking, what the hay! I like the z and I can't imagine typing xebra.

Glad it was a joke!

Arlee Bird said...

I don't know if you'd call them internet gags, but I used to fall for those forwarded emails about various outlandish topics that sound feasible. Now I run everything like that thru or Google to make sure they're true before just accepting them.

I can see replacing words that start with "Z" with "X", but what about words the end in 'z' or have 'z' in them. How would you pronounce "fuzzy" if it were spelled "fuxxy"?

Tossing It Out

Hart Johnson said...

*snort* You had me going for a minute there... I could get on board with Xebra or Xen, but how on earth would we write such beauties as SPAZ?

I have a fairly international bunch of friends and often joke on the American fear of U and the British fear of Z.

Mason Canyon said...

Well, this one had me going for a minute. With all the crazy things going on in our world, some how I won't be that surprised that someone didn't try to remove the z. Great post.

Thoughts in Progress

Linda Leszczuk said...

Okay, you had me going. There are so many lists going around these days about words and phrases people would like to see eliminated from the English languages, for a moment it seemed logical that someone would have attacked our alphabet, too.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Of course, with a last name like mine, I was doubly frightened.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Diane and Old Kitty – I’m glad to hear it wasn’t just me that fell for it.

Carol - I’m glad I took the time to check the story or else I would have felt pretty silly when someone pointed out that the piece was a joke.

Karen –I like to think I’m trusting, but gullible is probably a better word to describe me, too.

Joanne – Can you imagine the expense of all the signs that would have to be changed! I’m glad it isn’t true, also.

Darcia, that Kentucky law is funny – mainly because they thought they needed to make it in the first place.

Daisy, I think it’s a good illustration of how easy it is to pull a fast one on the internet on unsuspecting souls.

Helen, I don’t think I’d ever get the hang of saying, “X is for Xebra.”

Lee, I think one would have to pronounce “fuxxy” very carefully! )

Hart, I would have to go back to school if anyone ever changed our alphabet . “Spaz” is a great word. It wouldn’t be the same without the z.

Mason, glad you enjoyed the post. You’re right - there are lots of crazy things going on these days.

Linda, I never gave a thought to names. I have a feeling there would be a huge backlash if something like this did ever happen.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm far too skeptical, although you did make me wonder there for a moment.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

That was a good one! Ha! Not sure what would have happened to my name, since I have a z right in the middle. :)

Maryann Miller said...

OMG, I always fall for gags like this. My husband loves that I am so naive, as that gives him rich fodder for jokes. And I was believing this as I read most of your blog.

I came over after reading your comment on Helen Ginger's review of my book, and I am so glad I did. I love Internet connections that lead to something of interest and fun.

If you do order Open Season, I would be happy to send you a signed bookplate. Just e-mail me at with your address and I will send one.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Of course, there is always the difference between British and American spelling, which causes the 'z' to appear or disappear in words like analyse (UK) or analyze (US) depending on how you were taught. I'm constantly looking it up!

N. R. Williams said...

I'm so glad my ZZZZZZZZZZZ's are safe.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Alex, I think being a skeptic is a good thing.

Elizabeth, thank goodness we now know your that “z” in your name is safe.

Maryann, I’m glad you stopped by. I completely fell for the article when I read it, too. I’ll let you know as soon as I place my next book order as I’d love to have a signed bookplate.

Elspeth, I guess that’s the issue the make believe comission was trying to fix – unified spelling between the U.K. and the U.S.

Nancy, we can all sleep better at night now: )

Jan Morrison said...

Totally naive, I fell for it - then zap! my brain fizzed! A little bee buzzed as I wondered. Gadzooks, could it be true? Luckily Zena the Warrior Queen came into my cave. "Nah, that is the very zenith of craziness! why Zen Buddhists won't go for it. It has zero chance of being brazened through. Zilch in fact. Don't worry - go back to your nap." "zzzzzzzz" I replied.

Kerrie said...

Thanks for the great zeal in your post. If we got rid of "z" how would we know when a character in a cartoon strip is sleeping? There would be no ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Glynis said...

Gosh, I thought it was a true story! I also thought there would be no more Zzzz's in the afternoon!

Stephen Tremp said...

We used to fall for Internet gags but have wised up. Smoking Gun is a good site to verify many of these claims. Now I have to go and wire money to a Nigerian organization that promises a 200 fold return!

Laura Marcella said...

Lol, that's awesome! But I am oh-so glad it was a joke. I'd be really bumming hard if all my zebra stuff suddenly became xebra stuff. That just looks weird!

Jen Chandler said...

That's too funny!

Google did an April Fool's release a couple of years ago that I totally believed until I finished reading it.

I did almost believe this one, though. In light of the astrological signs changing, why not get rid of a letter?


Patricia Stoltey said...

That's funny. The reason we get drawn into these facetious articles is because so many real proposals are just as ludicrous...

Christina Rodriguez said...

That's too funny! As someone with the last name "Rodriguez," I'd be pretty upset if I had to start putting an "X" at the end!

Rayna M. Iyer said...

It is easy to fall for these internet gags because some of the stuff that actually happens is even more ridiculous than anything anyone can think of.
But you did have me scared for a bit. I love my ZZZZZZs. If there are XXXXXXs hovering over me as I sleep, the sound it makes is going to keep me awake.

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