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Atomic number. (The number of protons in the nucleus of an atom of a chemical element.) [Etymology: presumably from German Zahl, `number.' (Irrelevant stuff about that in the Descuentos entry.) More appropriate semantically, but I suspect less influential, is Russian (and Bulgarian) zaryad, `charge.']

Z <--
North is to the left.

--> Z
North is to the right. Turn the map around, you're confusing me.

Scaled score or scaled deviation. A statistical variable expressed as a number of standard deviations away from mean.

Zeile. German, `line.'


A Scrabble tile worth ten points (or more, on a double- or triple- letter or word space, or if it's used in multiple words) (or negative ten, to the holder, if someone else uses up his or her tiles first). Therefore, it behooves you to study this important resource (words in the OSPD that contain the letter Z).

In every Scrabble set, exactly one of the 100 tiles is a Z. The other high-value letters (one tile each) are Q (also 10 pts.), and J and X (eight points each).

Many people judge the quality of an English-language crossword puzzle partly on the basis of the number of times any of these four letters occur in the solution. Matt Gaffney, for example. He's an old-fashioned composer of crossword puzzles: he eschews computer help in creating them. Here is a comment from ch. 6 of his book Grid Lock. [The chapter (``Are Humans Necessary?'') describes a Kasparov vs. Deep Blue sort of competition that Gaffney set up, two by-hand against two database creators.]

I wanted so many X's and Q's and J's and Z's in that grid that they'd catch the judges' eyes first thing, and hold so tight that they wouldn't notice the crosswordese that'd crept in to accomodate those high-value letters.

He didn't do very well, but he chose very strong competition, and one can't say the high-value-letters thing wasn't a winning strategy. It wasn't enough alone, but the judges' comments made clear that it mattered to them. [I imagine that the admiration for puzzles with these uncommon letters is more pronounced in the world of American-style crossword puzzles. In British-style crossword puzzles (a/k/a cryptics), fashioning a grid is much less demanding work, though creating clues is much more challenging.]

Zimmer. German `room.' That's room as a subdivision of a building; room in the sense of space is Raum. Zimmer is cognate with the English word timber (you know -- as in wood, lumber, stuff you might use to build a room). Zimmermann is an old word for `carpenter.' (The more common word now is Tischler, from Tisch, meaning `table,' cognate with English dish, from Latin discus, from Greek diskos.) Raum, of course, is cognate with room.

Zoll. German, `inch.'

Zulu. Colloquial for the Z (or `zee' or `zed') meridian through Greenwich, and thus for GMT. It is sometimes supposed that GMT is nicknamed Zulu because Zulus live on the meridian and keep GMT as ordinary time, but in fact Zulus live further east. It could as easily have been called Zebra.

During the middle ages, extra letters were added to the system of Roman numerals. In this extended system, which long ago fell out of use, Z stood for 2000. (Mnemonic: zwei or informal zwo, German cognates of English `two.')

More recently, nroff and troff have generally used Z and W to represent 10,000 and 5,000, respectively, so the largest number representable is 39,999 = ZZZMZCMXCIX instead of 3,999 as in Roman numerals as conventionally used in English today.

PizZA. I was pretty skeptical about this precious addition to the list of two-letter words allowed in Scrabble (according to the OSPD4, at least), but it seems to occur in the wild. Phrases like ``get your drunk on and eat some za'' have multiple ghits.

(Domain name extension for) South Africa. Azania? No: Zuid Afrika. Country code 27 for telephone. Oftentimes it has happened, that someone calls telephone information for the international calling code and gets Saudi Arabia's.

The government's main page is <http://www.gov.za/>.

Inoffensive data on South Africa is found in the factbook entry from the latest edition of the CIA Factbook

African Studies Center (at the University of Pennsylvania) offers a resource page. The Norwegian Council for Africa (NCA) has a Republic of South Africa page.

South Africa Internet Exchange (SAIX) says it built and ``owns the largest IP backbone infrastructure that connects South Africa to the world.''

Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik. A Quarterly of Language, Literature and Culture. Except for the four German words above (meaning `Journal of Englistics [pardon my neologism] and Americanistics'), some front matter, and the headings in the table of contents, everything is in English. ISSN 0044-2305.

One-word Modern Hebrew expression meaning `That's your problem.' A contraction of the phrase Zo ba'aya shelcha with that meaning. (Note that "ch" is the conventional transliteration of a kh sound.) The parallel female version (the second-person pronoun is gendered) ought to be zabashach, after shelach, but I don't know if this is used.

ZAngger Committee. See ZC.

Zinc Ammonium Chloride.

Zoapatle Aqueous Crude Extract.

(Geophysical) Zonal Available Potential Energy.

Zusammenkunft Aller Physik-Fachschaften

A Russian term for continual drunkenness lasting more than two days. Is it really necessary to point out that vocabulary reflects culture? Cf. kore. Have a look at Tears of a Komsomol Girl, too.

A cup-shaped holder for a hot coffee-cup, usually metal and ... why do I have this feeling that I'm repeating what I wrote before? Because I copied-and-pasted, that's why! Let's save a little bandwidth and have you read this stuff at the zurf entry, eh?

Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft. German, `Journal of Old Testament Studies.'

Zero Administration Initiative for Windows. A new improved way of administering (or ``administrating,'' as Microsoft has it) user accounts on a Windows system. It achieves in the twenty-first century the sort of security and streamlined installation that wasn't available on Unix or VMS systems until the 1970's.

zB, z.B.
German: zum Beispeil, meaning `for example.'

Zinc Bacitracin. An antibiotic used as a growth-enhancing food additive for livestock. (With deadstock it's generally too late.)

ZincBlende (q.v.) or (more commonly) zincblende's crystalline structure. This structure consists of two interpenetrating FCC sublattices, with one displaced relative to the other along a <111> direction. You can view and play with a unit cell of it with this applet. A very common structure for binary ionic compounds, particularly the III-V's, with anions on one sublattice and cations on the other. Silicon Carbide (SiC) and SiGe are covalently bonded materials with the ZB structure. When the two sublattices are occupied by the same atomic species, the structure is that of diamond, as in single-crystal (sc) silicon, germanium, or alpha tin, or in the eponymous carbon allotrope diamond.

Zone Boundary.

Zero-Base Budgeting. Annual rejustification of whole budget, as opposed to justification of changes in budget, or of changes that deviate from a stated overall percentage change.

Zero Body Bias[ing].

Zr, Ba, La, Al, and Na fluoride glass. The material was discovered by Poulain and Lucas at the University of Rennes 1, France, in 1975. The discovery is often described as ``accidental,'' and without looking more carefully into the literature, I can't say that it wasn't. On the other hand, Poulain and Lucas had been publishing work on new transition-metal fluorozirconate glasses since at least 1970, so it's not as if they were just minding their own business when a gang of five fluorides came in through an unlocked lab door and mugged them. ZBLAN was apparently first reported in Poulain, M., Chanthanasinh, M., and Lucas, J., ``New Fluoride Glasses,'' Materials Research Bulletin, vol. 12, pp. 151-156 (1977).

ZBLAN, ZBLANP, and some other heavy-metal fluoride glasses (HMFG's) are of interest primarily as waveguides in the mid-infrared range. ZBLAN has a transmission maximum around 2.6 microns (vacuum wavelength) with a minimum loss of about 0.003 dB/m. The next-best choice (in terms of this parameter) among common fiber materials is single-crystal sapphire, with a minimum (at a slightly longer vacuum wavelength) above 0.1 dB/m.

Zr, Ba, La, Al, Na, and Pb fluoride glass. See ZBLAN.

Zero-Byte Time-Slot Interchange.

Zangger Committee. An informal group of nuclear supplier countries, named after its first chairman, Claude Zangger. Formally known as the NPT Nuclear Suppliers Committee. It was formed in the 1970's to establish guidelines to implement the export control provisions of the NPT.

Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines. A tiny bit of relevant discussion on copper production can be found at the AZ (for Arizona) entry.

Zero Core For the Hell of it. An Op code, sure. (The other codes here look okay.)

Zona de Commercio Libero. Italian, `[European] Free Trade Area' (that would be EFTA).

Zero Code Suppression.

Zero Defects. The level of perfection most easily achieved by having zero production.

Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen. `Second German Television.' The second public service TV station in Germany (est'd. 1961) and the largest in Europe.

Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken. `Central Committee of German Catholics,' literally. Die deutsche Katholiken refers to the German Roman Catholics, and not some local independent sect.

I haven't seen a direct statement of exactly when they were founded, but the 2009 edition of their Berichte und Dokumente (`Reports and Documents') included a May 2009 speech reporting something or other unprecedented in the organization's ``bald 150-jährigen Geschichte'' (`nearly 150-year history'). Also, in March 2011 when I browsed the über uns page, (©2011), it mentioned the ``über 150-jährigen Geschichte'' (`over 150-year history'), so I'm guessing they were founded in 1860. Look, I wouldn't expect you to simply take my word on a matter of this importance, so I've laid out the evidence.

Incidentally, uns above means `us.' The loss of proto-Germanic n before certain consonant sounds is widespread in Low German languages. Thus, modern German fünf is five in English and typically something like fif in Low German languages. [For many purposes it is useful to make a distinction between the English-Frisian branch of West Germanic on the one hand, and Low (i.e., lowland, northern) varieties of German on the other. Still, many of the changes that affected the languages now collectively called Low German also affected Germanic-speakers in Frisia and the regions inhabited by the Angles (a region shaped like a fishing hook, hence the name), the (Low) Saxons, and the Jutes. Moreover, ``Low German'' usually implicitly excludes Dutch and Luxembourgish. Here, however, the reason is often simply that it costs nothing to be more specific; these two languages and the western varieties of Low German are all derived from a common Franconian version of West Germanic. Dutch does not differ much more from the local languages of neighboring parts of Germany than it does from Flemish.]

Other examples of this n loss include ander, Mund, and Zahn (meaning, and cognate with, the English words other, mouth, and tooth). This shift (as such systematic sound changes are called) spread from the northern areas of the West Germanic Sprachraum, so the n is usually missing from the earliest Old English and North Frisian attestations, but is still present in some Middle Low German texts. [The three words given as examples just above are all ultimately derived from proto-Indo-European, corresponding to alter (probably, and certainly in the -ter part), mentum, and dens in Latin. Similarly über (meaning `about' in the phrase über uns) corresponds to over, super, and hyper in English, Latin, and Greek.]

An interesting special case is the English word tithe, originally meaning `tenth' in a general and not just a church context. The n had been lost there because it preceded th, even though the word ten (in its earlier forms) was present. (Often such word parallels will preserve a sound that would otherwise shift.) The spiffy modern word tenth (actually tenþe) first appeared in early Middle English, constructed anew from ten + -th.

Back on the continent, there was a sort of backwash from High German. (This was especially the case after a variety of High German became the prestige language and later the national language of the Germans.) Some of those lost n's were reinserted in the languages of the Low Germans and Frisians (the surviving Frisians, anyway; much of North Frisia disappeared in a catastrophic Burchardi Flood on the night of October 11, 1634). A parallel sort of n restoration thing happened on a smaller scale with English. For example, Frisian and Norse contributed -nd cognates of tithe that eventually went out of use. There were further influences in various directions, however. The word convent (along with related words) was borrowed from Old French at a time when the French pronunciation (if not the spelling) had apparently already dropped the n. The Anglo-French spelling omitted the n, and gave rise to such English as coven and Covent Garden. The n was restored in most other English terms from this root in a conscious return to the Latin root, starting around 1550.

I hope you enjoyed our brief aside. Getting back to the main topic of this entry... You know, I'm kind of exhausted from all that etymological heavy lifting. Let's just stop here and call it an entry.

Zero Delay Lockout.

And STAY out!

Zeitschrift der deutsch morgenländischen Gesellschaft. German, `Journal of the German Oriental Society.'

ZD Net
ZD stands for Ziff-Davis. Their Homepage gives access to a good sample of the stuff available in their line of computer magazines and their on-line service.

ZiDoVudine. Another name for AZT (q.v.), an AIDS drug. My impression is that AZT occurs more frequently than ZDV.

Zollinger-Ellison. Read something on the Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome.

  1. A rare medical disorder. Vide hoofbeats.
  2. An official (umpire, referee, etc.) at a sporting contest. Vide four zebras and ten yards of chain.
  3. An animal that looks like a striped horse. The answer to the canonical question is: white with dark stripes, not the other way around. At least, the dark stripes pale and taper and leave a light-colored belly. The bongo, on the other hand, is reddish with white stripes. [The bongo is not in the Equus genus but in Boocercus -- an antelope.] An animal similar to the zebra, Equus quagga, had brown stripes covering the head and fore part of the body. It got its name from the Zulu word for stripe (kwag). See also okapi and blaubok.

You know, back in the days before dyes were invented, probably the only way to get an interesting-looking fur was to hop a jet to Africa and kill something unusual. That's probably why the quagga is now extinct.

One of the puzzles of biology is why certain animals or their bodies do apparently stupid things. For example, various male birds and insects make loud mating calls that increase their likelihood of becoming food; various species of birds and fish devote valuable nutrition resources to cultivating attractive plumage (think peacock) or coloration that is dangerous in the same way that camouflage is safe. More individual examples include the fact that when a lion approaches a herd of (say) gazelles, if one of the healthier males spots it he will jump up and down a couple of times to alert the group, instead of just getting a head start. This may seem like altruistic behavior, but altruistic behavior is ``selected out'' unless the animals helped share enough of the altruist's altruism gene. As it happens, the lion usually doesn't chase after the gazelle that wastes time jumping in place (echoes of the Matthew Principle). Another example is the time that my late friend Dean tried to knock down a lamp post and only managed to get a post-wide bruise across his body.

``Well,'' you're probably thinking, ``the answer is obvious. `The guy's always doin' it for some gal.' [It's in the Guys and Dolls script.]''

If you're not thinking this you should be. Take a moment now to think this if you have not already done so.

Good. Now this still leaves a question: why are female gazelles attracted to males that tempt fate (in the person of Mister Lion) instead of meek, responsible gazelles who majored in accounting? Recent research seems to indicate that the reason is, that's how they can tell they're strong and healthy -- in other respects that cancel the risk-taking behavior (either conscious or by their resource-wasting, pigment-splashed bodies).

Now you should be thinking (it's okay if you thought it before) ``This makes sense for peacocks -- pea hens are drab-looking. But what has this got to do with zebras? Male and female zebras both have stripes.'' Well, the answer (and it's been a while since I read about it) seems to be that often the females will use a dangerous trait for sexual selection, and the males won't, but the offspring both have it, and there you are. If it's not enough of a hazard to extinguish the species, the females can go on picking mates by comparing more and less hazardous versions of the trait, and the males can go on ignoring it.

I'm not sure if this really has anything to do with zebras, but what the hey. The quagga is now extinct.

One of the songs in the rock opera ``Hair'' has a lyric: ``There is a peculiar notion that elegant plumage / and fine feathers are not proper for the male / But actually / that is the way things are in most species.''

The sociobiological take on this is that females make a bigger biological investment in reproduction, so they're pickier about whose genes they share their reproductive resources with.

Zero-coupon Eurosterling Bearer or Registered Accruing Securities.

zebra stripes
A pattern of stripes painted on a road, indicating a pedestrian crossing.

The name of the letter zee (z) for Commonwealth countries and anglophiles. More information below.

The name of the letter zed (z) in the US, and for fans of Sesame Street or of products named using the ``abbreviation'' E-Z.

Sometimes the customs people at the border crossing in Niagara Falls would try to get you to read the letter out loud to see if you were really American or Canadian. That doesn't work as well as it used to.

A prisoner or former prisoner of the Gulag.

Zener diode
A diode designed to have a sharply defined reverse-bias breakdown voltage. These are frequently used to establish a fixed voltage level independent of temperature. Zener diodes are usually available for voltages greater than the forward on voltage up to about 15 or 25 volts, and less widely for values up to a few hundreds of volts. Zener diodes have a power rating, so the higher-voltage Zeners should be protected against high currents.

The name Zener is used somewhat loosely here. High conductivity for reverse biases smaller than about 5V typically occurs by Zener tunneling, but higher-voltage ``Zener diodes'' have reverse turn-on voltage determined by the avalanche breakdown process. (Avalanche also leads to a sharper turn-on.)

Zener diodes are widely used in handy little investments called voltage protectors, surge protectors, or surge voltage protectors (SVP's, q.v.).

The simplest surge protector you can make is simply a pair of opposed Zener diodes in parallel across the power supply. When the voltage exceeds a threshold, this pair shunts the excess. (The threshold is the sum of the forward and reverse turn-on voltages.)

Name of the small-minded provincial town where Sinclair Lewis's Babbitt is based. Pseudonym of Duluth, Minnesota.

Duluth now has a sort of Zen connection. It has a sister-city relationship with Ohara, Japan. ``Ohara''? Maybe they thought it was in Scotland.

The straight man and romantic lead among the Marx brothers who made movies. (A fifth brother, Gummo [Milton Marx], only acted in vaudeville.) Zeppo [Herbert Manfred Marx] performed in the first five Marx Brothers movies. The origin of his stage name is unknown, or at least disputed. He was the youngest of the brothers; his middle name was the same as the first name of the first born, who died in infancy.

Metric (SI-promulgated) prefix for 10-21. It's abbreviated z. The inverse factor, with a prefix zetta-, is abbreviated Z.

Japanese word meaning `gelatin.' In fact, it is the same word, borrowed into Japanese. It's the best single-word illustration I have come across of what can go badly wrong with the consonants of English loanwords in Japanese. For some other effects, the suchiru and suchîru are worth a look.

Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives.

You know, an ohmmeter isn't a device that magically queries the component you're looking at when you perform the ritual of touching its two ends with probes. It's just a bit of circuitry. In its simplest form, it's a fixed internal voltage source (a battery, say) in series with an ammeter. The two ends of this series run to the probes, and when you're holding the two probes apart in the air (or ideally in a vacuum, though this could be a hassle) the circuit is open, and no current flows. Unless, of course, you're touching the metal on both probes. As the old song says, ``you ain't no insulator, honey.'' You'll probably measure a resistance in the rough neighborhood of 100 kilohms. (What old song? You wouldn't know it. I don't think it's been written yet, but when it has, it'll be old soon enow. Then again, maybe it occurs in later verses of that bawdy ditty about cap and coil out by Wheatstone's Bridge.)

Anyway, as you've probably realized by now, the idea is to close the circuit through some resistance. Say the voltage source has a voltage V, and the unknown resistance (or known resistance, if you're just checking) is R. Then the current is I = V/R. Expressing what you want to find out in terms of the information directly available to the meter, that's

                        R = --- .

Notice that resistance varies inversely with the current. The fact is very obvious on the heavy old black VOM's like the Simpsons. The scales in ammeter mode are linear: on any given setting, the indicator needle turns through equal angles for equal current increments. Voltage measurement is measurement of current through a fixed resistance (the resistor is in series with the ammeter), so voltage scales are also linear. In resistance mode, one is still measuring current, but the scale is marked in the values of resistance implied by the VOM's voltage source. (If you like, it's a linear scale for conductance G = 1/R.)

One implication of this is that zero resistance corresponds to infinite current. This might be a problem, since real voltage sources can't drive infinite current, and real ammeters couldn't measure infinite current even if they could. This is only a theoretical problem, however, because the wires and probes in real VOM's don't have zero resistance. If we understand R to be the external resistance being measured, and r to be the combined internal resistance from probe tip to probe tip (including the internal resistance of the battery and the resistance of the ammeter), then

                        R = --- - r.

So zero measured resistance occurs at a finite value of current, namely Imax = V/r. There is a little problem with this: V is not fixed. As the battery in the VOM loses charge, V decreases by a few percent, and the scale is wrong. The solution to this is to change the sensitivity of the ammeter, so that Imax (whatever its value as V changes) corresponds to the needle deflection marked as zero resistance on the, uh, analog display. That fine adjustment in the ammeter current scale is controlled by the knob or wheel labeled Zero Adj or Ohm Adj or something.

I should probably shut up at this point, but I just can't help myself. There's a further little conplication. In the last paragraph I talked as if r were fixed, which is not quite true. The resistance of the ammeter is different on different resistance scales. A finer (lower) resistance scale corresponds to a measurement of larger current variations. This is all done with a single elementary ammeter, which has a single value of angular deflection for a single value of current. To measure higher currents, one uses a current divider. That is, one places a shunt resistance in parallel with the elementary ammeter. If the shunt resistance is smaller than the ammeter's by a factor of precisely 1/(K-1), then the measured current in the elementary ammeter will be only one Kth of the total current through the parallel pair. In other words, the meter display is scaled up by a factor of K.

One consequence of this is that in principle, the value of r depends on the scale, and the resistance zero has to be readjusted when the resistance scale is changed. Another reason the ohmmeter has to be rezeroed is that at higher scales, with lower ammeter resistance, the poor feeble battery that you refuse to replace has to drive more current, and its voltage decreases. (In other words, the battery's internal resistance increases as its charge decreases.)

The same mechanism for changing ammeter scale is used in the zero adjust: the zero-adjust knob fine-tunes the resistance shunting the elementary ammeter. So r isn't even sharply fixed at a particular scale. So look, it's never perfect. Do you really need to know that resistance to better than a tenth of an ohm? I should say that I've been using the present tense in this entry as if these old analog VOM's weren't obsolete, and also because I am the sort of obsolete person who actually has a few of these bakelite dinosaurs within reach as I type this. Modern VOM's (multimeters, also loosely called voltmeters) use op-amp circuitry and digital read-out, cost a pittance and don't need a zero adjust. Now what was the question?

Yes, it is now more useful, if it ever wasn't, to know more about zero-coupon bonds than about ohmmeter zero-adjust.

zero-coupon bonds
Bonds redeemable at a set price, a set time in the future. They appreciate as their price approaches their denomination. Like US treasury bonds. The UBS will tell you about it.

zero-ohm resistor
The shunts used to bridge over traces on PC board often look like resistors. This is because automated pick-and-place equipment is already designed to handle resistors, and the extra mechanical strength and insulation can hardly hurt. Sometimes the shunts are the easiest way to handle PCB layout, sometimes they're a work-around for a circuit that has been slightly redesigned, and occasionally they hold a place for a resistor that will be placed later to fine-tune the ciruit.

Back when I was young, which can't have been more than two or three years ago, a lot of the guys (it was almost only guys) who went into electrical engineering had played with electronic circuits as a hobby when they were in high school. They knew which end of a soldering iron was hot. They knew more advanced stuff too, like that you don't measure the internal resistance of a battery by putting an ohmmeter across it. Finally, they knew that if you measure the resistance of a resistor that's soldered on a circuit board, then you really measure its resistance in parallel with everything it is hooked to.

Nowadays, all that incoming EE freshmen know is C++, Java, and all that rot. I'm bummed.

You know, I have another tip that might be useful to anyone who found the previous paragraphs of this entry helpful: make sure you're measuring the resistance of a resistor. The ohmmeter is just a piece of circuitry. You close the circuit with a resistor, and it reads off a number that is the resistor's resistance value. If you close the circuit with something else, it may still read off a number that is the ratio of a voltage to a current, but that's no guarantee that you've got a resistor there. One way you notice that is by switching the ohmmeter probes. Passive devices (not counting leaky electrolytic capacitors) have resistance that is independent of polarity. Active devices generally do not. So if the two-terminal thingie has a very high resistance in one direction and a low resistance in the other, then it's probably a diode of some sort.

Getting back to the PCB context, if you think that the resistance you're measuring is just an isolated resistor, but you're not sure that the traces on the PCB don't go off and shunt the resistance elsewhere (you might have a doubt if the PCB is only partly populated), then switch the probes and check that you measure the same resistance. This train of thought, by and by, is continued at the zero-adjust entry.

zero tolerance
Zero judgment.

Metric (SI-promulgated) prefix for 1021. It's abbreviated Z. The inverse factor, with a prefix zepto-, is abbreviated z.

A figure of speech: two subjects used with the same predicate, often so that one of the applications is forced. Cf. syllepsis.

Zero-Emission Vehicle. Of course, back at the plant that's generating the power to charge the batteries, it's a less pristine picture.

Zentrales Verkehrs-Informations-System. German, `Central Traffic Information System.'

Zwischenfrequenz. German, `intermediate frequency' or IF.

Zentrum für Flugsimulation, Berlin. German, `Berlin Center for Flight simulation' at the TUB.

Zermelo-Fränkel set theory, with axiom of Choice.

Zero Failure Criteria. A google search in December 2003 found eight instances of this term. In all instances, the term occurred as the expansion of ``ZFC'' in an online reference. Now there will be at least nine. (One reference credited the expansion to the ``IEEE Standard Dictionary.'')

It seems that this sense of ZFC is currently a ``laboratory phenomenon'' -- an abbreviation without an independent existence in the real world. Part of the reason may be that the expansion ``zero failure criteria'' is not understood. Therefore, as a public service, we explain it here. To have zero failure criteria means to have no criteria allowing one to say that failure has occurred. This implies that, by the book, no failures can be said to occur. On the other hand, it also implies completely lax and failed quality control, and therefore complete failure. Thus we have a failure situation that we can call ``zero [i.e., total] failure.''

Zero-Failure Criterion. A criterion for nuclear fuel: that fuel pellets or rods should not be reused if they fail early. A fuel failure in a nuclear power plant requires a shut-down of one or two weeks -- to cool down after powering down, and then to power back up.

Zentrum für Netze.

One once-common abbreviation for Zeitschrift für Physik. More at ZP.

ZEV Fleet Requirement.

Zone Field Selection.

Zero Gravity. We have something on this at the Daedalus.

Zinc Germanium Phosphide. Nonlinear material used in laser OPO's.

German: zu Händen [von], meaning `to the attention of, attention.' Literally `to hands [of].' My friends in the business world tell me that standing alone, an expression like ``to the attention'' is not very useful. I wouldn't know. It sounds like a toast -- ``To Victory! To Fame! To the Attention!'' But they claim that following ``Attn.:'' one normally writes the name or names of recipients.

Hmmm, it turns out the Germans do something like this as well. In fact, just as in English, they do it in a few different ways. Written out the long way, following the grammar rules of almost ordinary language (omission of the definite article before hands or Händen is a sort of formulaic business brevity), one can write ``zu Händen von Herrn Zuker,'' or ``zu Händen von Frau Schade.'' The preposition von (`of') takes a dative object, which requires Herr (`Mr.') to be inflected to Herrn. This is abbreviated, to take the first example, as ``z.H. von Herrn Zuker'' or ``z.H.v. Herrn Zuker,'' or ``z.H. Herrn Zuker.'' In the last form, the von is understood. One can therefore regard the von as part of the abbreviation, and for that reason I've included it in square brackets in the expansion above. That's not the only way to look at it, however. One also sees ``zu Händen Herrn Zuker,'' with the von simply elided.

Zhao Ziyang
Why don't I see this guy around any more? What's the old guy up to? He used to be the head of China's Communist Party. He was named general secretary in November 1987 following the ouster of Hu Yaobang, who had been blamed for pro-democracy student unrest. Last time we saw Zhao was May 19, 1989, when he visited Tiananmen Square and talked with student hunger strikers. In tears, he was reported to have apologized to the protesters there, saying ``I have come too late.'' The following June 4, with the energetic assistance of the Red Army, the demonstrations at the square ended abruptly, as did the lives of an unknown number of student protesters, guesstimated in the hundreds. (There were military actions further afield that were even less well reported.) Zhao was purged on June 24 and placed under house arrest. Over fifteen years later, on October 17, 2004, he observed his 85th birthday under house arrest. He died in January 2005.

German: zu Händen, meaning `to the attention [of].' Details at z.H. entry.

German: zu Händen von, meaning `to the attention of.' Details at z.H. entry.

Zero Headspace Extractor. Max Headroom cries, ``Oh n'no, n'n'no no!''

Zeitschrift für historische Forschung. A German journal that would probably have been named `Journal for Historical Research' in English. See Stuart Jenks's page of Tables of Contents of Historical Journals and Monographic Series in German for tables of contents (deutsche Seite: Zeitschriftenfreihandmagazin Inhaltsverzeichnisse geschichtswissenschaftlicher Zeitschriften in deutscher Sprache).

z.H.v., zHv
German: zu Händen von, meaning `to the attention of.' Details at z.H. entry.

Züricher Handball Verein. German: `Zurich Handball Association.'

Although the programming language zinc is superficially similar to C in many ways, Zinc Is Not C.

Zinc Sulfide (ZnS) or sphalerite. [Sphalerite got the name ``zincblende'' from its resemblance to Galena (lead sulfide). ``Blenden'' is a (Middle High and Modern) German verb meaning to blind or deceive. No extra credit for figuring out that there are English words cognate to this. ``Sphalerite'' is also uncomplimentary.]

You guessed it: The uranium ore (`pitchblende') can look like hardened pitch. See also the AnH entry. No, I won't tell you why. Just go.

Zia International Airport. A naturally-occurring XARA. The airport at Dhaka, Bangladesh. Generally agreed to be the best airport in all of Bangladesh, and not as bad as some airports in India and Pakistan.

The airport was built during the presidency of Ziaur Rahman, which began in 1975 and ended with his assassination in 1981. The airport was named after him shortly afterwards. It was probably a good move on IATA's part, to give it the geographically-cued code DAC. You never know when the reigning honoree might fall from favor. In fact, President Zia's widow, Begum Zia, is a former Prime Minister and currently leads the parliamentary opposition. In 1997, the opposition protested when the government proposed that the airport be renamed ``Dhaka International Airport.''

ZISM Automatic Elevation Data Acquisition System.

Konrad-Zuse-Zentrum für Informationstechnik Berlin -- Berlin Center for Scientific Computing.

Zero Insertion Force. A ZIF socket, like most IC sockets, grabs a chip package by the pins. Unlike most, however, the grabbing is controlled by a lever or screw. In closed position, the pins are held to the socket. In open position, the pins are completely free, so the package can be inserted or removed with only the force necessary to pick it up.

Zygote IntraFallopian Transfer. Ein Art von ART.

Just like IVF, but the fertilized egg (the zygote) is injected into a fallopian tube and takes the scenic trip to the uterus, instead of being inserted directly (as in IVF).

ZIFT is generally regarded as the most, um, intrusive ART. It is also the most expensive, and rather rarer than IVF and GIFT. GIFT is like unsupervised ZIFT: the gametes are dropped off at a fallopian tube and left to fend for themselves. In principle, therefore, ZIFT should be slightly more successful, but the difference is swamped by clinic-to-clinic variations.

Z39.50 International: Next Generation.

Related entries: ST:NG, Z39.50.

Zig-zag Inline Pin. A style of package for integrated circuits.

Zig-zag Inline Pin. I don't know why this entry appears twice. I guess I must just have liked it.

(AppleTalk) Zone Information Protocol.

ZIP code
Zone Improvement Plan code. Instituted in 1963.

There's an intelligent Zip+4 Code query created by Ajay Shekhawat of UB's CEDAR.

zip cord
A kind of copper wire, sometimes (and improperly) used for house wiring, and sometimes for audio connections.

This was first patented as ``Clasp Locker or Unlocker for Shoes,'' US Patent #504,038 issued to W. L. Judson on 1893.08.29.

Zero Interest Rate Policy (of the US Federal Reserve).

Zone Information Socket.

Zhengzhou (PRC) Institute of Surveying And Mapping.

Zone Information Table.


What's this entry doing here? I thought I got rid of it yesterday!

Zentralkomitee. German, `central committee.' German dictionaries try to define Zentralkomitee in general terms (as, for example, Führungsgremium, `controlling body') but typically qualify that by ``bes. einer kommunistischen Partei'' (`esp. of a communist party'). I used to suppose that they were just covering their semantic asses, but it turns out that the term is used for other universalists than just communists -- see ZdK.

(Geophysical) Zonal Kinetic Energy.

Zentralkomitee Mitglied. German, `[usually communist] central committee member.''

(Domain name extension for) Zambia. This page lists current status of internet connectivity there. ZAMNET, the Zambian National WWW Server, is Zambia's first (and as of May 1997 only) Internet service.

Inoffensive data on Zambia is found in the factbook entry from the latest edition of the CIA Factbook

African Studies Center (at the University of Pennsylvania) offers a resource page. The Norwegian Council for Africa (NCA) has a Zambia page.

Zona Militare. Italian, `[Restricted] Military Area.'

Zone Marker.

Zona Metropolitana de la Ciudad de México. `Mexico City Metropolitan Area.'

ZaMbian Kwacha.

Zone Melt Recrystallization.

Chemical element abbreviation for ZiNc. Atomic number 30. In the first period of transition metals.

Learn more at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.

The American Zinc Association has a site.

The following paragraph appears in ``How Tina Brown Moves Magazines,'' an article by Elizabeth Kolbert for the December 5, 1993, New York Times Magazine.

Brown is intensely aware of the criticisms of her work and even guides the conversation around to them at several points, prodding me to tell her anything negative I have heard. When I comply, she does not so much answer her critics as flatten them. When, for example, I point out that many readers, both professional journalists and ordinary subscribers, have told me they find her New Yorker more readable but less thoughtful and ultimately less memorable, she responds with a breezy putdown: ``I think that's a kind of fakery. There is a kind of snobbery about `Oh, you should have seen the south of France when it was a fishing village.' The 50,000-word piece on zinc -- did anyone really read it?''

She has some admirable talents, but they don't do much to account for the great run she had. She had a string of successes as the editor of various high-brow magazines that she made more, uh, accessible. She charmed a small number of powerful men in the business, and terrorized a large number of subordinates. She generated a lot of commercially valuable buzz. Then she launched Talk magazine in 1999. It was a good magazine and a spectacular failure, and since it folded in 2001 the world of print journalism doesn't seem to have had any attractive opportunities for her to pursue. Oh yeah, she writes a weekly column for the Washington Post and hosts the talk show ``Topic A'' on CNBC. Did anyone really watch CNBC?

Zinc Oxide. Infrequently-studied direct gap II-VI compound semiconductor. Lattice constant of 4.580 Å and whopping bandgap of 3.35 eV at room temperature.

Zinc Phosphide. A semiconductor with a direct gap of about 1.5 eV and metal-semiconductor barrier heights in the range of 0.7 to 0.8 eV. Native defects determine the carrier concentration of the normally p-type material. By 1978 (no that's not up-to-date, it's just what I happen to be reading), solar cells made with this material had achieved 6.1% AM1 efficiency.

ZeNeR. Panasonic part label for voltage surge suppressor. See the Zener diode entry.

A music label for progressive rock.

Zeitschrift für Neuere Rechtsgeschichte. You can subscribe here, where the journal is described: ,,Die ZNR analysiert die Rechtsgeschichte im deutschen Sprachraum unter Einbeziehung der europäischen Tradition. Sie enthält besonders Themen des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts und greift entwicklungsgeschichtliche Probleme aller Rechtsgebiete auf. Die ZNR fördert die Methodendiskussion in Form von Aufsätzen, Sach-, Forschungs- und Länderberichten sowie durch Rezensionen einschlägiger Literatur.''

Okay, here's my contribution, since the Z's are really very thin:

One time that my great uncle Fritz was testifying in an American court as an expert witness on German law, his credentials were challenged on the grounds that Germany is governed by ``Roman law.'' [The objection is a silly one, since most of the continent is governed by some local variant of Roman code.] He replied simply that his degree was ``Doctor of German and Roman Law.''

``Uncle Fritz'' was a grand uncle and a great uncle, and he was a granduncle and a great-uncle (also ``great uncle'') of mine, so it follows that he was a great granduncle. From this one might draw incorrectly the correct conclusion that I have first cousins once removed.

The most interesting thing uncle Fritz ever told me about his university years was the attitude among his classmates in advance of the World War (WWI). They all scoffed at the notion that there could be another major European war -- they supposed that Europe was too civilized, by that point in history, to descend to such barbarity...

Once I noticed some United Nations (UN) documents on Uncle Fritz's bookshelves. When I pointed them out, he remarked that they were written on very good paper.

Zinc Sulfide. A direct-gap II-VI compound semiconductor with a wide bandgap of 3.06 eV and a lattice constant of 5.409 Å.

Zinc Selenide. A direct-gap II-VI compound semiconductor with a fairly wide bandgap of 2.70 eV and a lattice constant of 5.671 Å.

Zinc Telluride. A direct-gap II-VI compound semiconductor with a bandgap of 2.4 eV and a lattice constant of 6.101 Å.

Zionist Organization of America.

Z.O.B., Zob
Zebu Overseas Bank. Of Madagascar. (Official name in French: Zébu Overseas Bank. If it has an official name in Malagasy, I don't know it.)

Unlike any other bank in the world, the Zebu Overseas Bank invites you to invest in a Zebu, the hump-back cattle of Madagascar. Your Zebu will be placed with a Madagascar family to either provide milk, work the land, produce calves or pull a wagon.

You will be the owner of a Zebu. It will be regarded as a direct, working investment in our economy rather than a financial gift.

Your investment gives you the right to open a Zebu Saving-Bank Plan (Z.S.B.P.) giving interest on savings.

If anthrax becomes a big problem, Zob derivatives might be interesting: sell the hump-back cattle short.

Zentral Omnibusbahnhof. German: `Central Bus station.' The one in Berlin is by the Funkturm (broadcast tower) near the Kaiserdamm.

The ZOB is often found on Bahnhofsstraße. Gee.

Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa. Polish: `Jewish Fighting Organization.' Name of the underground organization that staged the Warsaw ghetto uprising in WWII.

Zionist Organization of Canada. Old name of CZF.

Zero Of Incorporation.

A cross between and a portmanteau of Zebra and dONKEY.

Rita Rudner has established scientifically that single men are, in her words,
bears with furniture.

[column] An old joke:
Circe was a mighty sorceress who had the power to change men into swine. This was a very dirty trick, because ever since then, millions of women have spent countless hours in a vain attempt to change them back.

Zorn's Lemon
A yellow fruit equivalent to the Axiom of Choice. (The seedless variety is called Zorn's Lemma.) The plural of Zorn's Lemma would be Zorn's Lemmata. Zorn's Lemonade is equivalent to the axiom of no choice between a rock and a hard place.

There's a small academic industry dedicated to proving theorems without using the axiom of choice that were originally proven using it. There's no Axiom of No Choice in most zoological gardens of mathematical beasties. There's just math with the axiom and without it.

Zeeman[-shift[ed]] Optical Trap. Obsolete name for MOT.

Zinc-Oxide (ZnO) Varistor.

One once-common abbreviation for Zeitschrift für Physik, the pre-eminent journal of physics in the first decades of the twentieth century, when Germany was the pre-eminent center for advances in physics. The Physical Review, its American counterpart (roughly speaking), was in those days something of a backwater. Came Hitler, and in about 15 years the roles and relative standings of those two journals more or less flipped. See ZS for details on the word Zeitschrift (`journal').

Zambia Printing Company. Part of the Zambia Publishing Company, now defunct. You know, if just one or two select sub-Saharan economies were to pick up steam, it could really reinvigorate this entire letter of the alphabet!


Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik. For other epigraphy sites, go to the AIEGL entry. Journal catalogued by TOCS-IN.

Zero-Point Energy. The energy of the quantum ground state: GSE. The GSE tends to be designated ZPE most often in the case of discrete harmonic-oscillator systems and their continuous generalizations, boson fields. In these cases, zero is the oscillator quantum number or the number of free bosons.

The STAFF entry mentions an instance of zero-point fluctuations.

Zero Population Growth. It is claimed that the sociologist and demographer Kingsley Davis, dead in 1997 at age 88, coined the term ``Zero Population Growth.''

Zentralstelle für Psychologische Information und Dokumentation. (The German Center for Documentation and Information in Psychology.') At Universität Trier. ``ZPID documents German and English psychological literature, tests, and audiovisual media from authors in the German-speaking countries and provides a number of products and services which are a valuable information resource for both scientists and practitioners''

Typically expanded ZEH Plotting Software, where ZEH stands for Mr. Zeh.

Zuclopenthixol Decanoate. Used to treat schizophrenia.

(Old top-level domain name ) Zre, back when that was the name of a country. The old Belgian Congo. Renamed the Democratic Republic [République Démocratique] of the Congo (DRC) by Laurent Kabila, in his first official act on taking power in May 1996. Kabila remained dictator while I wrote a few more paragraphs.

For the thirty-one years preceding, the country had been ruled by Mobutu Sese Seko et cetera, the world's most famous and avaricious kleptocrat, particularly when you normalize the theft to the national product, if any. [Technically, it's a (mineral-)rich country. We have a somewhat newsy entry on one of the minerals -- coltan.] The renaming to Z&uïre was part of an ``authenticity'' campaign that began in 1971. (For more on the name changes, follow the Mobutu Sese Seko link.)

Here's a page on Zaire from City.Net. Here's a color map. Here's a bigger, less colorful, more detailed map, scanned in complete with paper crease from the CIA map, which is considerably less irritating than that picture eczema that's called watermarks. Water damage, more like.

Kinshasa is the capital. (Its name was not returned to the earlier Leopoldville.)

Hmmm, now that Mr. Kabila is no longer very useful to his former supporters, his Rwandan troops have gone home, things have haven't looked so good for him. Oh, wait! Good news for Mr. Kabila: a rebellion against him begun in early August 1998, very successful in early days, led by Tutsi. Maybe ethnic pride and resentment will save him. Or maybe he'll just fall.

Newt Gingrich (Speaker of the US House of Representatives for a while, R-Ga., widely credited for the Republican takeover of the House in the 1996 elections) did his doctoral dissertation at Tulane (History, 1971) on ``Belgian Education Policy in the Congo, 1945-1960.'' (The country gained independence in 1960.) You could order it from University Microfilms.

Inoffensive data on DR Congo is found in the factbook entry from the latest edition of the CIA Factbook

African Studies Center (at the University of Pennsylvania) offers a resource page. The Norwegian Council for Africa (NCA) has a Congo-Zaïre page.

Laurent Kabila was murdered in January 2001, and succeeded by his son Joseph (estimated to be the philandering Marxist's eldest). Within months, he has made Western diplomats cautiously optimistic. After a century of autocrats Belgian and home-grown, one dares not hope, but one dares not not hope.

Oh, great, Mount Nyiragongo erupts in January 2002, displacing half a million people and not completely destroying the country's central trading city Goma, still in the hands of anti-government rebels. Residents return to the city before the volcano quiets, not feeling safe (from Rwandans) in UN camps. Just another disaster. It would be a comedy if it weren't a tragedy. In fact, it's been a famous novella. In 1890, Joseph Conrad went into the Belgian Congo to work as a steamship captain, and came out with Heart of Darkness in 1902.

Let's have more about Laurent Kabila's alleged progeny. According to another work of fiction (some 419 spam I received today), I am to understand that an illegitimate half-brother of Joe Kabila is Emmanuel Kishali Kabila. Following up (hey, it's investment research!), I found ``just one more collection point of close to 2000 Nigerian Advance Fee Scammer names which have been compiled.'' On the page of names K-L, Kabila is the only surname with, for convenient reference, given names subdivided into sections (three: A-L, M, N-Z). The other Kabila names beginning in E are Eddy K. Kabila, Edward Kabila, Ejike Kabila, and Elvis Kabila. The only other name to be similarly subdivided was Williams (though that was fortified with William names). (It should be conceded that there were also sections in separate tables for Mobuto, Sese and Seko.) The only personal image on the entire K-L page was ``Titi Kabila although the file name was originally edith.jpg.''

Chemical symbol for Zirconium, atomic number 40. A transition metal in the group of titanium. Learn more at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.


Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte. A German classics journal catalogued in TOCS-IN.

Airport code for Zurich, Switzerland.

Zero Risk Level.

Zirconia. Cubic zirconia is used to dissimulate diamond.

ZeitSchrift. German: `Journal.'

Zebu Savings-Bank Plan. A financial hippogriff. Read about it at the Z.O.B. entry. P.E.Z. in French.

A figure of merit for thermoelectric devices. I suppose I could say more, later.

Zulu Time. Same as GMT.

ZorTec C (compiler). Available for MS-DOS. For other C compilers, see cc.

Zeptojoule, TeraScale Integration.

A cup-shaped holder for a hot coffee-cup, usually metal and somewhat decorative. Then again, it's more functional than a toaster-cosy. Apparently these things were quite fashionable eastern levant of the Mediterranean, at least into the nineteenth century. The Arabs take their coffee-drinking rather seriously.

An alternate spelling and pronunciation of zurf is zarf. Zurf and Zarf sound like twin lead characters in a cartoon about the daily grind of living on planet Erf. But zarf is recognized as a real word by the OSPD4, whereas zurf isn't. Oh sure, that sounds minor, but if you were a word you wouldn't laugh. To a word, that kind of endorsement can mean the difference between appearing on movie marquees and being scratched out on a cheap notepad and going to bed hungry.

Zimbabwe Veterinary Association.

Zeitschrift des Vereins für Hamburgische Geschichte. A German journal that would probably have been named `Journal of the Hamburg Historical Society' in English, passing up a wonderful opportunity to pun on Hamburger. See Stuart Jenks's page of Tables of Contents of Historical Journals and Monographic Series in German for a table of contents since 1974 (vol. 60) (deutsche Seite: Zeitschriftenfreihandmagazin Inhaltsverzeichnisse geschichtswissenschaftlicher Zeitschriften in deutscher Sprache).

Zeitschrift des Vereins für Lübeckische Geschichte and Altertumskunde. A German journal that would probably have been named `Journal of the Luebeck Society for History and Old-time Studies' or Archaeology or something like that in English. See Stuart Jenks's page of Tables of Contents of Historical Journals and Monographic Series in German for tables of contents (deutsche Seite: Zeitschriftenfreihandmagazin Inhaltsverzeichnisse geschichtswissenschaftlicher Zeitschriften in deutscher Sprache).

Zentralstelle für die Vergabe von Studienplätzen.

A fertilized ovum, particularly before it has begun to cleave and develop.

The Sinclair ZX80 and ZX81 computers had nothing to do with the Zilog Z80 chip. The ZX80 was based on the 780-1, a different 8-bit uP from NEC. Both computers (computres?) were brought out in early 1980 by Sinclair Research, a company founded by Clive Sinclair (1940-). The ZX80 sold for under 100 quid in the UK, and US$200. It was also sold by Timex under its brandname.

(Domain name extension for) Zimbabwe. The region that is now the nation of Zimbabwe was gradually taken over by the British Empire starting in 1888. In that year, Cecil Rhodes won agreements with local chieftains to allow mining, and Northern and Southern Rhodesia (modern Zambia and Zimbabwe) were declared by Britain to be in its sphere of influence. A referendum of Southern Rhodesia settlers in 1922 rejected incorporation with the Union of South Africa, and in 1923 it was granted a separate local administration. For some subsequent history, see the NIBMAR and UDI entries.

Back during the civil war, there were a couple of different liberation movements. People in the West often had difficulty distinguishing the two -- ZAPO and ZANO, or something, I think they were called (for Zimbabwe African People's/National Organization, vel sim.). They seemed to differ mostly on the basis of leadership personalities. In fact, the main difference was ethnic: the smaller older (ZAP) organization had an Ndebele leader (Joshua Nkomo) and mostly Ndebele following, and the larger organization (ZAN) had a Shona leader (Robert Mugabe) and majority-Shona following.

In the first elections of the postwar period, voting for the guerrilla-organizations-turned-political-parties observed the same division, and Mugabe became president. Mugabe has made some efforts over the years to create a unity government, including naming Nkomo to an evidently ceremonial/advisory rôle (Co(!)-Vice President) in every government. Now seats in the unicameral legislature (House of Assembly) are filled by direct vote. Almost all the seats are ZANU-PF.

This one-party business does not bode well. Is this one of those nation-wide deals, where a large minority is disenfranchised by the technicalities of ``district-wide'' voting? I don't know, I haven't been following the story. Neither have US news media. After Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, the action moved to South Africa, and by the time South Africa moved to majority rule, the cold war was cold and dead in its grave, good riddance. The Marxist and Marxist-sympathetic leaders of African countries discovered that development rubles had dried up and quickly became converts to the virtues of a mixed economy. This story has been repeated.

Harare, the capital, is in Mashonaland.

Inoffensive data on Zimbabwe is found in the factbook entry from the latest edition of the CIA Factbook

African Studies Center (at the University of Pennsylvania) offers a resource page. The Norwegian Council for Africa (NCA) has a Zimbabwe page.

The Stammtisch has been visited from the University of Zimbabwe.

ZimbabWe Dollar.

German: zur Zeit, meaning `at present.' Literally `to the time.' (Zur is zu + der; zu, the cognate of English `to,' takes a dative object; der in this instance* is the female singular definite article; Zeit is a feminine noun meaning `time,' cognate with English tide -- think of tidings.) Also abbreviated z.Zt. of English `to,' takes a dative object; der is the dative female singular definite article; Zeit is a feminine noun meaning `time,' cognate with English tide -- think of tidings.) Also abbreviated z.Zt.

* Here is why I write ``in this instance'' above: German noun phrases are declined according to case (nominative, accusative, dative, or genitive) and according to grammatical gender and number. (Masculine, feminine, and neuter are destinguished in the singular, but not in the plural, and brevity in describing declined forms, ``singular'' is understood when a gender is given.) This yields up to 16 distinguishable situations (nominative masculine or dative plural, say). Nouns, adjectives, and determiners are all subject to declension. However, there are only 6 distinct forms of the definite article -- der, die, das, den, dem, and des (all meaning `the') -- so there is some overlap of functions. For example, der is the dative female (singular) form, as above, but it is also the nominative masculine form and the genitive female and plural form.

Bonus information: There are many situations in which the grammatical case of a noun phrase cannot be determined directly from its declined form, and contextual clues are necessary. (I mean, they're necessary if you're trying not to be confusing.) Often the singular and plural forms of a noun are identical, and if the noun is feminine the declension provides no clarification except in the dative. (A noun phrase in the nominative is normally the subject of some verb, and the verb's conjugation then supplies the missing number information.)

I suppose the similarity of plural and feminine forms in German is not entirely coincidental. In Latin, the (mostly feminine) ``first declension'' (``declension'' here is a class of similarly-declined nouns) resembles the plural forms of the (mostly masculine and neuter) second declension. This seems natural because in proto-Indo-European, it seems that the female gender first arose as a class of nouns to describe abstractions, and plurals are often used for the same purpose.

The assignment of nouns for the biologically female (i.e., nouns of female ``natural gender'') to this declension only came later. A few old female words have forms indicating (in languages other than English) an originally ``masculine'' morphology. That's why ``sister'' and ``mother'' have endings like ``brother'' and ``father.''

The association of the female with abstract is noticeable in the female gender of all -tio and -tas nouns in Latin (ultimate source of most -tion and -ity nouns in English). Similarly in German, all -ung and -heit nouns are feminine. The -heit ending is cognate with -hood in English. The -ung ending, like the -ing of Dutch, is cognate with the -ing of English, but the situation is confused because the -end ending of German -- and the -and of Scottish before the Scottish and English (or ``British,'' in one sense: English and Welsh) kingdoms were united -- merged with -ing in English. Congratulations if you parsed that in one pass.

German: zur Zeit, meaning `at present.' See z.Z.

That's ANSI/NISO Z39.50, or equivalently ISO 23950. The Library of Congress is the maintenance agency and registration authority for both ``standards, which are technically identical (though with minor editorial differences).'' The standard specifies a client/server-based protocol for searching and retrieving information from remote databases.

A microprocessor (uP) loosely related to the Zilog Z80. A composite of several different achitectures. Not really compatible with the Z80 peripherals. Has a unique architecture with three memory spaces: program memory, data memory, and a CPU register file. On-chip features include UART, timers, DMA, up to 40 I/O lines. Some versions include a synchronous/asynchronous serial channel. Features fast interrupt response with 37 interrupt sources. The Z8671 has Tiny Basic in ROM. The Super-8 is just that, a super version of the Z8 with more of everything.

An early (first released July 1976) 8-bit microprocessor from Zilog. Instruction set is a superset of Intel 8080. Still extensively used in microcontroller applications.

At geocities, Thomas Scherrer maintains a Z80-Family Official Support Page.

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