j: Wikis

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Basic Latin alphabet

J ( /ˈ/ or /ˈ/; named jay or jy)[1][2] is the tenth letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet.



J originated as a swash character to end some Roman numerals in place of i. There was an emerging distinctive ue in Middle High German.[3] Gian Giorgio Trissino (1478–1550) was the first to explicitly distinguish I and J as representing separate sounds, in his Ɛpistola del Trissino de le lettere nuωvamente aggiunte ne la lingua italiana ("Trissino's epistle about the letters recently added in the Italian language") of 1524[4]. Originally, both I and J repesented /i/, /iː/, and /j/; but Romance languages developed new sounds (from former /j/ and /ɡ/) that came to be represented as I and J; therefore, English J, acquired from the French J, has a sound value quite different from /j/ (which represents the sound in the English word "yet").

Use in English

In English J most commonly represents the affricate /dʒ/ (as in jet). In Old English the phoneme /dʒ/ was represented orthographically as cg or .[5] Under the influence of Old French, which had a similar phoneme deriving from Latin /j/, English scribes began to use i (later j) to represent word-initial /dʒ/ of Old English (for example, iest, later jest), while using dg elsewhere (for example, hedge).[5] Later many other uses of i (later j) were added in loan words from French and other languages (e.g. adjoin, junta). The first English-language book to make a clear distinction between i and j was published in 1634.[5] In loanwords such as jam, "J" may be pronounced /ʒ/ by some, but not all, speakers. In some such cases, including raj, Taj Mahal and others, the regular /dʒ/ is actually closer to the original sound of the foreign language, making this realization a hyperforeignism.[6] Occasionally J represents other sounds, as in Hallelujah which is pronounced the same as "Halleluyah" (See the Hebrew yud for more details).

J is used relatively infrequently in the English language, though it is more commonly used than Q and Z.

Use in other languages

The great majority of Germanic languages, such as German, Dutch, Icelandic, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian use J for the palatal approximant /j/. Notable exceptions are English, Scots and Luxembourgish. J also represents /j/ in Albanian, and those Uralic, Baltic and Slavic languages that use the Latin alphabet, such as Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Latvian and Lithuanian. Some languages in these families, such as Serbian, also adopted J into the Cyrillic alphabet for the same purpose. Because of this standard, the minuscule letter was chosen to be used in the IPA as the phonetic symbol for the sound.

In the Romance languages J has generally developed from its original palatal approximant value in Latin to some kind of fricative. In Catalan, it has retained a palatal articulation as /ʝ/, while in French, Portuguese, and Romanian it has been fronted to the postalveolar fricative /ʒ/ (as in English measure). In Spanish, by contrast, it has been both devoiced and backed from an earlier /ʝ/ to a present-day /x ~ h/[7], with the actual phonetic realization depending on the speaker's dialect.

In modern standard Italian spelling, only Latin words, proper nouns (such as Jesi, Letojanni, Juventus etc.) or those of foreign languages have J. Until the 19th century, J was used instead of I in diphthongs, as a replacement for final -ii, and in vowel groups (as in Savoja); this rule was quite strict for official writing. And J is also used for rendering words in dialect, where it stands for /j/, e.g. Romanesque ajo for standard aglio (garlic). The Italian novelist Luigi Pirandello used J in vowel groups in his works written in Italian (he also wrote in his native Sicilian language, that still maintains the J).

In Basque, the sound represented by j has a variety of realizations according to the regional dialect: [j, ʝ, ɟ, ʒ, ʃ, x] (the last one is typical of the Spanish Basque Country).

Among non-European languages which have adopted the Roman alphabet, J stands for /ʒ/ in Turkish, Azerbaijani and Tatar. J stands for /dʒ/ in Indonesian, Somali, Malay, Igbo, Shona, Oromo and Zulu. It represents a voiced palatal plosive /ɟ/ in Konkani, Yoruba and Swahili. In Kiowa, J stands for a voiceless alveolar plosive, /t/. In Chinese Pinyin, J stands for /tɕ/, an unaspirated Q.

The letter J is generally not used in the modern Celtic languages, except in loanwords. It is also not used frequently in the Native American languages; Gwich'in, Hän, Kaska, Tagish, Tlingit, Navajo, Northern and Southern Tutchone.

Codes for computing

Alternative representations of J
NATO phonetic Morse code
Juliet ·–––
Signal flag Flag semaphore Braille

In Unicode the capital J is codepoint U+004A and the lowercase j is U+006A. Unicode also has a dotless variant, ȷ (U+0237) for use with combining diacritics.

The ASCII code for capital J is 74 and for lowercase j is 106; or in binary 01001010 and 01101010, respectively.

The EBCDIC code for capital J is 209 and for lowercase j is 145.

The numeric character references in HTML and XML are "J" and "j" for upper and lower case respectively.

In Unicode, a duplicate of j for use as a special phonetic character in historical Greek linguistics is encoded as ϳ (Unicode U+03F3). It is used to denote the palatal glide /j/ in the context of Greek script. It is called "Yot" in the Unicode standard, after the German name of the letter J.[8][9]


  1. ^ "J", Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989)
  2. ^ "J" and "jay", Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993)
  3. ^ Mittelhochdeutsches Handwörterbuch von Matthias Lexer (1878)
  4. ^ Ɛpistola del Trissino de le lettere nuωvamente aggiunte ne la lingua italiana, photographic reproduction by Turin Univerisity, page 5 of PDF file; publishing date in on the last page.
  5. ^ a b c Hogg, Richard M.; Norman Francis Blake, Roger Lass, Suzanne Romaine, R. W. Burchfield, John Algeo (1992). The Cambridge History of the English Language. Cambridge University Press. pp. 39. ISBN 0521264766. http://books.google.com/books?id=CCvMbntWth8C. 
  6. ^ Wells, John (1982). Accents of English 1: An Introduction. Cambridge, UN: Cambridge University Press. pp. 108. ISBN 0521297192. http://books.google.com/books?id=Ty5RoXyTKQsC. 
  7. ^ Penny, Ralph John (2002). A History of the Spanish Language. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521011841. 
  8. ^ Nick Nicholas, "Yot"
  9. ^ Unicode code chart for Greek
The basic modern Latin alphabet
Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv Ww Xx Yy Zz
Letter J with diacritics

history palaeography derivations diacritics punctuation numerals Unicode list of letters ISO/IEC 646


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

The Universal Character Set
Basic Latin U+006A



Wikipedia has an article on:



j lower case (upper case J)

  1. The tenth letter of the basic modern Latin alphabet.

See also

Other representations of J:





  1. The tenth letter of the English alphabet.
  2. (slang) A term for a marijuana cigarette ('joint').
    "I went outside to smoke myself a J" — Paul Simon, from the song "Late in the Evening" from the album, "One Trick Pony."
  3. (mathematics) An alternative version of i, the positive square root of -1; used in the context of electronics.
  4. (mathematics) The second unit vector, after i



  • (letter name): IPA: /jeː/


j (lower case, upper case J)

  1. The tenth letter of the Dutch alphabet.

See also

  • Previous letter: i
  • Next letter: k



j m. and f. inv.

  1. See under J




j (lowercase, capital J)

  1. The tenth letter of the Romanian alphabet representing the phoneme /ʒ/. Preceded by î and followed by k.



  • (phoneme) IPA: /j/


j (lower case, upper case J)

  1. The 14th letter of the Serbian Latin alphabet.

See also

  • Previous letter: i
  • Next letter: k



j (lower case, upper case J)

  1. The eleventh letter of the Spanish alphabet.

Simple English

The Latin alphabet
Aa Bb Cc Dd
Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj
Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp
Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv
Ww Xx Yy Zz

J is the tenth (number 10) letter in the English alphabet. It comes before the letter K and after the letter I.

Meanings for J

  • In calendars, J can sometimes mean these months - January, June, or July.
  • In a deck of playing cards, J is used to mark each of the jacks.
  • It can also be used as a middle initial for people with middle names such as Jack, James, John, Jesus, or Jason.

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