Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Missing J

Today I pondered why in the world the Dutch alphabet I'm stitching has a missing J. I've had this pattern for over a year now and just figured out in the past week that the J is missing. After doing some research and asking an expert on samplers and history, I found out that the J and I used to be interchangeable and actually it wasn't until the past the medieval times did the J get created into the alphabet. So, this explains from the Websters International Dictionary as quote:

J is a comparatively late variant from the Latin I which was used indifferently as a vowel or consonant, its consonantal value being that of English Y in yet. The form J was developed from i during the Middle Ages, and it was long used in certain positions in the word merely without regard to the sound as a consonant or vowel. But the lengthened form was often initial, and the initial was usually consonantal, so the j gradually became differentiated from i in function as well as form. It was not, however, until the 17th century that the distinction of j as a consonant and i as a vowel was fully established and the capital J introduced. In English, the regular and practically uniform sound of j as in "jet" (dzh), the same as g in "gem," dates from the 11th century, that being the sound represented by i when consonantal in words then introduced from old French.

And seeming that my first word as a baby was "why" I had to find out the why of the missing J today. I asked The Sampler Girl as I knew she would be an expert on this and she helped me start searching for more information. Thanks, Tanya!!

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