I Heart Indies

Thursday, November 10, 2011

J, j: The Alphabet Project

All November I'll be blogging about the alphabet and word origins.

J, j Originally a variant style of I, J did not appear as a letter in its own right until 6th Century Spain where it was pronounced as /h/ as in junto. In England, adoption was spotty and uneven; in his Dictionary of the English Language (1755) Johnson omits both J and V, leaving a twenty-four letter alphabet. Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language (1828) includes all twenty-six letters, but on the other side of the Atlantic, the twenty-four letter alphabet still had prominent defenders until the middle of the 19th century.

Jehovah: One of the variant pronunciations, along with Yahweh, of the tetragrammaton, (יהוה‎) the ineffable name of God. Perhaps deliberately so, the word’s etymology is as obscure as its pronunciation. Possibly derived from a Western Semitic root meaning “to bring into existence,” but with equal likelihood coming from a Southern Semitic root, “to destroy or bring low.” Some scholars argue it means simply “to be,” an explanation supported by God’s impatient retort when asked his name by Moses, “I AM THAT I AM… Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Exodus 3:14)

Jupiter: The greatest Roman god takes his name from the Greek god Zeus and the epithet, “father,” as in “Father of the Gods,” or “Father of Earth.” Zeus + pater → zeupater → Jupiter


Coming November 30th, the RETURN OF THE STOOPID CONTEST!

1 comment:

  1. The practice of using I for J gives us one of the great arguments in Shakespearean scholarship. At the end of Othello, when Iago's betrayal is laid bare, Othello gives his death soliloquy.

    And is the disputed phrase:

    "...of one whose hand,
    Like the base Iudean, threw a pearl away
    Richer than all his tribe"
    (A reference to Judas's betrayal of Christ)

    or is it:

    "...of one whose hand,
    Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away
    Richer than all his tribe"
    (A reference to an ancient legend of a savage casually tossing away a large pearl because...to him...it seems worthless.)

    The majority of scholars go with the second variation, and that's the version usually used...but the "First Folio" type is unclear. Most British scholars think the first version is the original one as Shakespeare intended.

    Iust wanted to point that out.