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When was J invented?

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911012.  Tue May 22, 2012 1:51 pm Reply with quote

Just that...
Yer muddyevil, Tudor and early stuart writing and printing use an I instead (IHC on crucifixes, I R as Jamie I's livery etc) so when and indeed where did J come from?

911031.  Tue May 22, 2012 4:04 pm Reply with quote

Considering the huge difference between pronounciation of certain letters and the use of letters for certain sounds between German and French, my guess is that the modern use of J can be traced back to the start of Modern English, which would place it around late Tudor England.

911032.  Tue May 22, 2012 4:05 pm Reply with quote

You can also see the difference in how words from different origins were affected, with some being given "j" and others being give "dg".

dr bartolo
911075.  Tue May 22, 2012 5:48 pm Reply with quote

If I remember correctly, Johnson's dictonary treated i and j as the same letter, likweise for u/v. Therefore, the practice must have lasted for a very long time.

911080.  Tue May 22, 2012 6:20 pm Reply with quote

You remember entirely correctly, and this subject may come up at some point in J Series.

The letter <J> began life as a variant form of <I>. The first written language to use it as an entirely separate letter was Middle High German in about 1200. Italian too adopted it as a distinct letter quite early - although at some point the Italians changed their minds, because <J> is all but absent from the modern standard Italian language. (By now, it is found only in foreign words and in a handful of proper nouns eg Juventus.)

Not until 1634 does it appear at a distinct letter in an English work, and Queen Victoria had ascended the throne by the time that everyone was completely convinced that <J> should count as a letter of the alphabet in its own right.

911106.  Wed May 23, 2012 2:24 am Reply with quote

dr bartolo wrote:
If I remember correctly, Johnson's dictonary treated i and j as the same letter

Or Iohnson's Dictionary, as it is sometimes known.

912464.  Tue May 29, 2012 9:09 am Reply with quote

or Iohnson's Djctjonary ? :)

913662.  Sat Jun 02, 2012 10:35 pm Reply with quote

djgordy wrote:
dr bartolo wrote:
If I remember correctly, Johnson's dictonary treated i and j as the same letter

Or Iohnson's Dictionary, as it is sometimes known.

That reminds me of how in Swedish, the letters v and w are sometimes considered interchangeable for sorting purposes. I believe this is somewhat less common than it once was.

942469.  Sat Sep 29, 2012 6:29 pm Reply with quote

Which in turn reminds me...

In Swedish, there are three "extra" symbols, '', '' and ''. These are considered distinct letters, and are sorted separately from 'a' and 'o' (and anything else, indeed). This is different from "accented" letters in French or German, for example. But Swedish orthography also includes '', which is referred to as "German y", but which isn't considered a letter of the alphabet at all, and nor does it get its own collation. (They're either lumped with the y's or the u's (as they'd be in German), I forget which.)

That's not "English y", of course, but "German (Swedish y)". (German u-umlaut is either transliterated as "u" in English, guaranteeing mispronunciation, or more correctly as "ue", giving the reader a sporting chance, at least.)

English spelling would probably have a few more letters if the Saxon's Norman overlords weren't quite so free with the linguistic vetoes (and doubtless attendant beatings) concerning the likes of yog, eth, and thorn... (The mess of vowels and all those silent consonants are more self-inflicted.) I guess those will have to wait until after Series Z, to see if they get their own eps!

Spud McLaren
1017137.  Sun Aug 18, 2013 9:20 am Reply with quote

I've been dipping into a few, er, "dipping-into" type books recently. One is Accomodating Brocolli in the Cemetary by Vivian Cook, in which I found 3 alphabets. The first (The Story of an Apple Pye, 1750) lists both I and J - "I inspected it; J join'd for it." The second, dated 1796, does not list I; interestingly, neither list U. The third is "from different early sources", and lists all letters currently used.

Next, to Shite's Unoriginal Miscellany, which lists an alliterative poem (The Siege of Belgrade) in which each line contains only words beginning with one letter of the alphabet, each letter being dealt with in alphabetical order. There are 26 letters, yet the poet (Alaric Alexander Watts) needs to reiterate A in order to create an even number of lines because he doesn't have a line for J, despite using it in the text (line U). Again as an interesting aside, Suwarrow is his rendering of Suvarov.

Finally, from the same publication came the flag Semaphore system, in which the flag position for J is not in logical sequence. A-G are represented by one flag only; H-N are represented with one flag in the A position, except for J; O-S are represented with one flag in the B position. Which makes me think that J is a later addition. V, W and X are also out of sequence.

Last edited by Spud McLaren on Sun Aug 18, 2013 1:34 pm; edited 1 time in total

1017164.  Sun Aug 18, 2013 12:03 pm Reply with quote

So medieval Scrabble would have been pretty low-scoring?

Spud McLaren
1017181.  Sun Aug 18, 2013 12:59 pm Reply with quote

I imagine so, but since only a low proportion of the population could read, you could win just by telling them that you were winning.


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