“J” is for this late addition to the alphabet

JayDo you think I could find anything grammatical or similar that started with the letter ‘J’. I drew a blank. However, the letter itself has an interesting history. It was the last letter to join our modern alphabet between 400 and 500 years ago. Yes, long after ‘Jesus‘, ‘Joshua‘, ‘Jacob‘ and ‘John‘. These biblical names are actually anglicised versions of the original Hebrew names. The Hebrew was ‘Yeshua‘ which translated to the Greek ‘Iesus‘. No sign of a ‘J’ there, is there? But the clue is in the ‘I’ and it is no coincidence that ‘J’ comes after ‘I’ in the alphabet, taking its place as the 10th letter.

Roman numerals were expressed as a series of letters, such as in ‘xiii‘ for ‘13‘. The Romans embellished the last ‘i’ with a curve, and thus it became ‘xiij‘. The ‘j’ was associated with the ‘y’ sound and it was not until 1524 that an Italian fellow called Gian Giorgio Trissino decided to make the distinction and adopted the ‘j’ as in ‘jam’ sound. This information comes courtesy of Dictionary.com.

The ‘y’ sound still is alive today in words like ‘hallelujah’ and foreign names like ‘Jan’ (pronounced like ‘yarn’).

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