2-31. The Three Z-Lands


One aspect of being curious is asking simple questions. For example, if there is an England, surely there must be “Engs.” And is Ireland really a land of anger? The answer, it turns out, is yes, there were people called the “Engs,” roughly, who came from a land shaped like a fish hook, and no, Ireland is not named for induced rage but rather for a goddess.

New England gets it’s name from the old England. And there is actually a New Ireland, and it’s found in Papua New Guinea. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether the new is better than the old.

But one place that deserves a question is New Zealand. Where, exactly, is old Zealand? England and Ireland are more well-known than New England and New Ireland, though New England is doing OK for itself. But at least in the U.S., very few people have heard of old Zealand, making New Zealand the clear winner in popularity.

It turns out that there are three Z-lands. Zealand, spelled with an ‘A,’ is the largest island in Denmark. It’s also called Sealand, which, given that it it’s an island, is a fine name.

Zeeland, with an “E” is a province of the Netherlands. And despite the spelling, it’s this place that New Zealand is named for. Those of us who were on the recent College of Curiosity field trip to Oceania will note that I got this wrong during our scavenger hunt. Oh, and it’s almost completely below sea level, helping to give the Netherlands (the low-lands) its name.

New Zealand was named by Dutch explorers in honor of the province.

But there is an even simpler question that remains unanswered. It’s quite common in New Zealand to refer to their country as En Zed, as in .NZ for Internet domains. Yes USAians, most of the world says “zed” for “z.”

Given that, shouldn’t they call their country New Zedland? Well, no… because that’s someplace else. Zedland is the slang term for the West Country of England, including Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset.

So there you have it… a simple question can often lead to a complex answer, and of course, each answer leads to more questions. I wonder why that is…

(Some music from bensound.com)


Z. Yes, that's the flag for Z.

Z. Yes, that’s the flag for Z.

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