EZARD is a difficult name – if people hear it, they cannot spell it; and if they see it, they cannot pronounce it. (It is Ee-zard in British English; it was my maiden name.) This recurring problem and my own background in English-language teaching make me keenly aware that pronunciation, and dialect, will have had a great impact on how the name has developed in different areas. Then throw into the mix the the scribes and clerics who, centuries ago, were the first to write down the name – they would have written how they heard it, perhaps spoken in a heavy ‘dialect’ voice.
The z and d in EZARD are ‘voiced’ consonants, i.e. they are strong sounds that you can ‘feel’. If you put your finger on your voicebox and say EZARD, you will feel it vibrate. This form of the name is found strongly in the East and North Ridings of Yorkshire.
However, s and t sounds are ‘unvoiced’, i.e. they are softer and you cannot ‘feel’ them – try it and see. The further north you go in Britain, the more likely you are to hear the unvoiced t (in preference to the voiced d) at the end of a name, e.g. Stewart/Stuart is the usual form of that name in Scotland but it tends to be Steward in England. (Figures from the 1881 census: Stewart – 46,914, predominantly in Scotland; Steward – 3,847, predominantly in East Anglia.)
In 1881, the variant EZART was found mainly in Co Durham and the West Riding.
But language is a fluid medium – it changes and develops in its travels. And this is one reason why names change too. Has EZARD been influenced in this way? How is the name pronounced in the States, in Canada, in Australia, in New Zealand, in South Africa? I’d love to know.