A quibble on Engl. _zap_

Larry Trask larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk
Thu Aug 26 13:28:35 UTC 1999

On Wed, 25 Aug 1999 CONNOLLY at LATTE.MEMPHIS.EDU wrote:

> In saying some eminently sensible things, Larry managed to pick
> first _pizza_ and then _zap_ as examples of words which might be
> ancient in English but aren't.

> But _zap_ is no more possible than _pizza_, since OE (a) had no
> phoneme /z/ and (b) did not use <z> in writing English words.
> Medially, [z] was common but is written <s>, as befits an allophone
> of /s/.

We seem to be talking at cross purposes here.  I picked `zap'
specifically because it has an anomalous form for a native word and
because an Old English *<zappian> would have been impossible.  That was
the point of the example.

> BTW, was there an "OE Bible" (as opposed to translations of
> individual books) in which a **zapian or **sapian might have
> occurred?

No, I'm not aware that there is a single `Old English Bible' on a par
with, say, the King James Bible.  But I've often seen the label `Old
English Bible' applied informally to the collective body of OE

Larry Trask
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH

larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk

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