H and Z

vn23   Wednesday, September 15, 2004, 16:18 GMT
Hi I was just interested in how native speakers say these letters out loud and where they come from.

I'm from NZ and say "aytch" and "zed"
In Australia and England I have now heard "Haytch" which sounds weird to me but may be 'normal'??
I'm sure Sesame Street used to say "aytch" when I was a kid, it was only "zee" that I remember being different in the US.
Mxsmanic   Wednesday, September 15, 2004, 18:41 GMT
In American English, they are pronounced [eItS] and [zi].
vn23   Wednesday, September 15, 2004, 22:07 GMT
Well thats interesting, I wonder why we say it like you do in America and not like the English!??
Smith   Wednesday, September 15, 2004, 23:45 GMT
I say ''zee'' and ''aitch'' for ''z'' and ''h''. I'm from the United States.
Jim   Thursday, September 16, 2004, 02:45 GMT
In Aussie it's /eitS/ and /zed/. I'd always thought that /heitS/ was just substandard like "brung" for the past participle of "bring".
Smith   Thursday, September 16, 2004, 02:50 GMT
I think [heitS] would be substandard for the letter ''h''. Some people might think that the letter ought to start with it's own sound like most of the other letters do such as b, d, t, p, z, k, j etc. [heitS] is never heard in North America.
vn23   Thursday, September 16, 2004, 10:39 GMT
Well welcome to England where [eitS] seems to be substandard! Would any Brits care to comment?

Oh yeah Jim I definitely heard [heitS] in Australia, on the west coast though.
Mi5 Mick   Thursday, September 16, 2004, 14:38 GMT
Is a haitch as good as an aitch?


"Although nothing much is certain in matters of language these days, the prevailing view, perhaps illogically, supports the pronunciation aitch. The Oxford English Dictionary gives it thus, and does not recognise haitch as an alternative. I say this is illogical, because it might be expected that the name of a letter of the alphabet would give a clue about the sound normally associated with it."...
Easterner   Friday, September 17, 2004, 14:54 GMT

>>where they come from<<

I suppose they must come from anglicized pronunciation of the French names of these two letters: "h" is called "hache" there (pron. "ahsh", with the "h" being mute), while "z" is "ze'de" (the apostrophe standing for the grave accent). These names were most probably introduced by the Norman scribes after the Norman Conquest, when the Norman variety of French was the official language in England.