[Ads-l] Off-topic: Cyrillic vs. Roman Writing

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Mar 20 15:29:55 UTC 2022

I find this ironic in the worst sense. I immediately thought of the film Z
by Costa-Gavros from the late 60s, which recounts the battle in Greece
between the forces of democracy (embodied by the assassinated democratic
leader Lambrakis and the right-wing military junta ("the Colonels")
responsible for his death and a lot of other mayhem along the way after
they came to power. (It's based on a book that I haven't read.) I couldn't
remember what the Z stood for, but the Wikipedia synopsis (
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z_(1969_film)) provides the explanation:

*The film's title refers to a popular Greek protest slogan (Greek
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_language>: Ζει, IPA: [ˈzi]
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:IPA/Greek>) meaning "he lives," in
reference to Lambrakis.*

So "Z" honored someone who was the antithesis of "the Z-man" responsible
for the current bloodshed.


On Sun, Mar 20, 2022 at 11:11 AM Geoffrey Nathan <geoffnathan at wayne.edu>

> Here's a somewhat polemical discussion about the possible worldwide
> future semiotic trajectory of 'Z' from a Substack that I follow:
> https://www.arcdigital.media/p/generation-z
> Geoff
> Geoffrey S. Nathan
> WSU Information Privacy Officer (Retired)
> Emeritus Professor, Linguistics Program
> https://clasprofiles.wayne.edu/profile/an6993
> geoffnathan at wayne.edu
> From: Amy West<mailto:medievalist at W-STS.COM>
> Sent: Sunday, March 20, 2022 7:40 AM
> Subject: Off-topic: Cyrillic vs. Roman Writing
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Amy West <medievalist at W-STS.COM>
> Subject:      Off-topic: Cyrillic vs. Roman Writing
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On 3/20/22 00:00, ADS-L automatic digest system wrote:
> > Date:    Sat, 19 Mar 2022 15:17:37 +0000
> > From:    Geoffrey Nathan<geoffnathan at WAYNE.EDU>
> > Subject: Off-topic: Cyrillic vs. Roman Writing
> >
> > Not really in our bailiwick, but on a political posting on Facebook
> > by a pro-Ukraine friend there's a picture of a pro-Russian banner.
> > It reads Z=D0=B0 =D0=9F=D1=83=D1=82=D0=B8=D0=BD=D0=B0: [za putina] 'For=
>  Putin'. Now, for those
> > who don't read Cyrillic, the first letter isn't Cyrillic but Roman,
> > so this is (sort of) code-switched. And, for those following
> > the unpleasantness in Ukraine, the 'z' letter has become a rallying
> > symbol for the Russian troops (painted on their military
> > vehicles and aircraft). According to the Wikipedia entry on this
> > use of 'Z' (yes, there is one...) it's become quite common in
> > Russian pro-war propaganda.
> Thank you for this. I've been seeing the "Z" use in political cartoons,=20
> and I haven't been understanding the use or significance or origin.
> It's going to be in bailiwick soon enough as it gets picked up and=20
> appropriated.
> ---Amy West
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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