ZA.

Thanks to a question at AskMetaFilter, I learned something I should have known years ago: the ISO country code for South Africa is .za because it’s from the Dutch Zuid-Afrika. The Wikipedia entry explains:

This is a legacy of when Dutch was an official language in South Africa, before being replaced by Afrikaans, in which the name of the country is Suid-Afrika. Afrikaans joined English and Dutch as an official language of the South Africa in 1925, and in the South African Constitution of 1961 Dutch was removed as an official language altogether, decades before .za was introduced. However, the .sa domain is used by Saudi Arabia and ZAR is also the ISO 4217 currency code for the South African Rand.

I had vaguely assumed it was based on some name comparable to Zaire and Zambia.

Comments

  1. The current list of official names for ZA is:
    * Republiek van Suid-Afrika (Afrikaans)
    * Republic of South Africa (English)
    * IRiphabliki yeSewula Afrika (IsiNdebele)
    * IRiphabliki yaseMzantsi Afrika (IsiXhosa)
    * IRiphabliki yaseNingizimu Afrika (IsiZulu)
    * Rephaboliki ya Afrika-Borwa (Sepedi)
    * Rephaboliki ya Afrika Borwa (Sesotho)
    * Rephaboliki ya Aforika Borwa (Setswana)
    * IRiphabhulikhi yeNingizimu Afrika (SiSwati)
    * Riphabuḽiki ya Afurika Tshipembe (Tshivenda)
    * Riphabliki ra Afrika Dzonga (Xitsonga)
    Before the end of apartheid there was talk of changing the name to Azania, but the ANC was against it.

  2. Azania, that must be what I was thinking of.

  3. So what are the suffices for Zambia and Zimbabve?
    The webcomic El Goonish Shive (that I won’t recommend) uses “Za!” as an exclamation. Don’t know why, so in my head I used to read it as « Zut alors ! ».
    On the topic of webcomics some people here might like Evil Inc. for the puns or Arthur: King of Time and Space for the ditto and the reïmagining of the Arthurian mythos.

  4. I have to admit when I saw the question I realized I had assumed the whole time that it was Zuid in Afrikaans also and had thought it was totally obvious.

  5. So did anything actually change in 1925? When will the U.S.’s English-only movement become the American-only movement?

  6. rootlesscosmo says:

    Azania was a name adopted for the country by the Pan Africanist Congress, which split off from the African National Congress in the 1960′s; as far as I know, only supporters of the PAC used it. There is or should be a term for usages of this kind, which imply a distinct political affiliation, something equivalent to Tendenzroman in the field of fiction.

  7. David Marjanović says:

    I have to admit when I saw the question I realized I had assumed the whole time that it was Zuid in Afrikaans also and had thought it was totally obvious.

    Me too.

  8. The currency codes use country codes, so ‘ZAR’ is not at all surprising.
    There’s a longer list of currency codes at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_4217

  9. El Goonish Shive aside, za is, of course, a Mongolian interjection meaning “ok”.

  10. And of course za is an acceptable Scrabble word, as it’s a slangy shortening of pizza.

  11. The one that really throws me is .ch for Switzerland. I assumed it comes from the German name of the country, Schweiz (which I realize does not make a whole lot of sense), but according to Wikipedia it has an entirely different origin: Confoederatio Helvetica. Who knew?

  12. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    The one that really throws me is .co.uk. Just because Britain is the running dog of the USA does that mean it’s become a corporation too? Sorry for being prescriptivist (I’m not really sorry, though; it’s insulting, or it would be if I lived in England — or gave a damn).

  13. n

  14. I’m not sure why it’s considered insulting. The two letters you complain about don’t have anything with the UK being a company. They are simply short for “company” and, are used in domains belonging to companies. Government, organisations, educational bodies have their own abbreviations. The same abbreviation is also used in New Zealand and Japan, and probably other places, too.

  15. No matter what I did, I was unable to post my comment above until I’d tried a few variations, because it included the words “d..main name” apparently.

  16. “The one that really throws me is .co.uk. Just because Britain is the running dog of the USA does that mean it’s become a corporation too?”
    As others have pointed out, “.co.uk” is for uk commercial domains. There are also .ac.uk, .org.uk and others. Similarly, here in Aotearoa we have .co.nz,.org.nz,.ac.nz, .mil.nz
    I’ll also throw my lot in with those who had just assumed that it was “Zuid” in Afrikaans. What really surprised me from this post was just how recently Afrikaans became an official language in the RSA. I was stunned to learn that Dutch was still official well into last century.

  17. I think Hat needs to make a short note above the comment field that the good dottore Krone is not to be taken altogether too seriously …
    Thank you for the answers to the Zambia and -imbabwe question – I hadn’t actually expected one since it’s so easy to check. And the Confoederatio Helvetica was news to me too.

  18. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    What do you mean??? Of course I should be taken seriously. I would love to be smart like MMcM, or Marie-Lucie or Language. I’m working as hard as I can.

  19. “The one that really throws me is .ch for Switzerland.”
    Confederation Helvetique or soem thing like that? You see it on car decals too.

  20. marie-lucie says:

    Jim: Confédération Helvétique it is in French, obviously a direct translation from Latin.
    Crown: Don’t underestimate yourself!

  21. I was proud as a child to know that “SF” on a car meant “Suomi Finland”. Recently I was dismayed to find they’ve changed to “FIN”.

  22. David Marjanović says:

    za is, of course, a Mongolian interjection meaning “ok”.

    Ha! An opportunity! :-)
    Is that pronounced with [z] or with [dz]? I’ve found contradictory… hints at what з (and for that matter ж) is really used for in Mongolian.

  23. My ear tells me it’s [dz], but it shades towards [z] because there’s no actual distinction between the two. And I’m pretty sure ж is [dʒ].

  24. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    Thank you, Marie-Lucie.

  25. Siganus Sutor says:

    Bathrobe: The same abbreviation [.co] is also used in New Zealand and Japan, and probably other places, too.
    Other places like… South Africa.
    e.g.
    The South African Broadcasting Corporation: http://www.sabc.co.za/
    The Mail & Guardian: http://www.mg.co.za/
    The Cape Times: http://www.capetimes.co.za/
    The Johannesburg Stock Exchange: http://www.jse.co.za/
    The South African Weather Services: http://www.weathersa.co.za/
    etc.

  26. Siganus Sutor says:

    By the way, one can check on David Marjanović’s e-mail address that Austria’s domain is .at, which sounds fairly weird for a country calling itself Österreich (.ek would have made more sense). It’s nearly as weird as Algeria’s .dz :-)

  27. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    The Johannesburg Stock Exchange: http://www.jse.co.za/
    Thanks for providing those links. I was wondering how my krugerrands were doing.

  28. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    Here’s what I got when I first tried to post that,
    Your comment could not be submitted due to questionable content: dia monds
    (Written as one word in the original, obviously.) What’s wrong with dia monds? They’re a girl’s best friend.

  29. OK, I removed “diamonds” from the blacklist. I must have gotten a bunch of spam using that word and figured that was the easiest way to get rid of it all. Thanks for the heads-up! (In general, anyone who finds a comment blocked because of some common word should let me know so I can remove it from the blacklist.)

  30. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    Ah-ha! So it was you, Language.
    In general, anyone who finds a comment blocked because of some common word should let me know so I can remove it from the blacklist.)
    Oh yeah, sure. Like, how are we going to let you know when word is blocked? Sounds like…

  31. David Marjanović says:

    Thanks, bathrobe!

    Austria’s domain is .at, which sounds fairly weird for a country calling itself Österreich

    Well, it’s evidently derived from Austria, with .au already being occupied by Australia.

    (.ek would have made more sense).

    Does not compute. .oe would have made sense (Ö being a very common abbreviation).

    It’s nearly as weird as Algeria’s .dz :-)

    That comes from writing the Arabic name the French way: El-Djazaïr.

  32. (.ek would have made more sense).
    Does not compute.

    Oh, it was just a tentative to make fun with some sort of literal translation: Eastern Kingdom or something like that.
    Yes, golden Australia took it first, but why did you Austrians had to use the English name? After all it is Gambia and not Germany which has the .gm domain today. (Funnily enough, the Australian territory of Xmas Island took the .cx domain.)

  33. John Emerson says:

    And why is Österreich “Austria”, which seems austral, like that country below Indonesia? Why not “Eastria”.

  34. John Emerson says:

    And why is Österreich “Austria”, which seems austral, like that country below Indonesia? Why not “Eastria”.

  35. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austria
    The name was erroneously Latinized as “wikt:Austria” (Latin auster “south wind”, metaphorically “south” thus austrālis “southern” and so on. There is no evidence for the region being called “South” anything in any other language).
    Caueat Uicipaedor

  36. John Emerson says:

    The people of Österreich/Austria, like the people of Hellas/Griechenland and maybe even the Dutch in The Netherlands/Holland, seem to have a grievance of sorts. But I can see why Hat doesn’t take these grievances seriously. I don’t know why anyone would really want to be called “nether”, though.

  37. John Emerson says:

    The people of Österreich/Austria, like the people of Hellas/Griechenland and maybe even the Dutch in The Netherlands/Holland, seem to have a grievance of sorts. But I can see why Hat doesn’t take these grievances seriously. I don’t know why anyone would really want to be called “nether”, though.

  38. Crown, A.J.P. says:

    Coleridge was born in Nether Stowey, if I’m not mistaken. Somerset: lovely part of the world.

  39. David Marjanović says:

    why did you Austrians had to use the English name?

    I have no idea who actually got to choose.
    Sili is right on the misunderstanding in Medieval artificial Latin. That said, the etymology must have vanished from everyone’s awareness pretty soon; if the word were created today, it would be Ostreich, with [ɔ] rather than the rather puzzling [øː].

  40. David Marjanović says:

    In fact, Ostern “Easter” and Österreich are the AFAIK only exceptions to the rule that vowels in front of consonant clusters are short in Standard German, if we don’t count the regional pronunciation of Erde, Pferd and the like in northern Germany.

  41. marie-lucie says:

    The Netherlands, previously also called Low Countries (French Pays-Bas), have a large portion of their territory below sea level, hence the name. I know several people from there and they don’t like to use the name Holland, which they say only refers to one part of their country. In French, even though most people call the inhabitants of the Netherlands Hollandais, the official name of the people and their language is Néerlandais.

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