Modulo Alphabet Song

Between a Canadian flatmate, a South African study partner and a Canadian professor who talks about Z transforms three hours a week, I’ve been beaten. Outstubborned. De-vernacularized. I’ve started calling zee zed.

It may seem trivial—even mildly advantageous, given that problems with Cs and Zs can get confusing late at night—but it’s a bitter defeat. I have long defended the American use of “zee” based primarily on the fact that “zed” ruins the Alphabet Song, and secondarily on the fact that in principle, all language standards should come from the mouths of giant yellow bird-puppets. If we erode Big Bird’s alphabet hegemony, what’s stopping us from giving complete control over standard English usage to Elmo, or even the meep-meep muppets?

The E-Prime kidz might be happy – neither Elmo nor meep-meep muppets make much use of “to be”. But Yami sad! Yami like zee! Yami go do physics. Meep meep, meep, meep meep.


  1. Still Life wrote:

    Zee, zed, Zod… it’s all the same to me.
    What worries me is whenever I start adding those hashmarks to my handwritten 7’s and Z’s. (Although I gave up long ago re: zero’s — if I don’t slash those when I write, I’ll get confused [since yah never know when I might start using hexatrigesimal notation, y’all…])

  2. des wrote:

    My boss is American, but I only work in 2D (+ time) so we haven’t had the ‘z’ confrontation yet. The pronunciation of “tau” causes endless hassle, though, and there doesn’t even seem to be a geographical basis.

  3. yami wrote:

    I have to slash my Zs or they look too much like 2s. I’ve never quite gotten the zero-slashing, though, unless I’m writing passwords on post-its – maybe I just use phi too much.

  4. grid wrote:

    Yup yup yup yup yup yup yup yup.
    Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
    Yup yup yup yupyupyupyupyup.

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