My search for a topic associated with J never materialized till evening and the panic pangs slowly started saying hello to me. When I asked one of my colleague to suggest something from J, he strongly said Justice. I was starting at him with big eyes, speechless! I pleaded with him to try again and think something on more interesting and creative stuff. He did not budge a bit but urged me to go for Justice. His reasons were, why should you always write lighter, funny stuff? Be more serious and justice is such a serious stuff. It took me exactly 1.5 seconds to disagree on that. Hope my colleague doesn’t get to read this post though. 🙂
There is absolutely no dearth of words from letter J. Finally, inspired by my post written on A, I decided to learn more about the alphabet J itself. As expected, the learning came as a surprise.
We learn English alphabets as soon as we step into the school as part of English medium schooling systems, but we are never told about the history and origin of these 26 alphabets. How many of us actually know that even though Z is the last letter in the order of alphabets, actually the letter J was the last one to join the group of alphabets. English alphabets have their origins from the Roman alphabets. History mentions that in Roman letters, J was never an alphabet but it was a fancy calligraphic way to write I with a swash or a little slant given to the letter I at the bottom. It wasn’t until 1524 when Gian Giorgio Trissino, an Italian Renaissance grammarian known as the father of the letter J, made a clear distinction between the two phonetic sounds of “i” & “j”. By then all the other alphabets were already formed and used. J came as a last entry although it gained the tenth place in the series of English alphabets.
Trissino must have done lot of research to actually differentiate between an i and j. I had always heard of scientific research and the likes but never imagined there could be a linguistic research as well. If not for the thoughtful Trissino, then jolly Jack and jubilant Jill couldn’t jump joyfully and juggle in the jungle while jostling Jim for his jingles. What a boring and gloomy scene that would be?!
Another interesting thing to note is that in English alphabets, unlike Arabic, Hebrew or Chinese only the letter i & j have the dot hovering on top.
This tiny dot mark you see over a lowercase i and a lowercase j is called a “tittle” which is actually a combination of “tiny” and “little,” and refers to a small rounded mark or stroke used while writing the 2 letters. Technically speaking i and j do not lose their meaning even when written without the tittle.
It is an interesting and informative experience to take a casual walk through our linguistic history! Hope you enjoyed the joys of J just like me. Please feel free to share any other alphabetical astonishes which you might have come across.