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J j ȷ
(See below)
J cursiva.gif
Writing system Latin script
Type Alphabetic
Language of origin Latin language
Phonetic usage[ j ]
[ ]~[ ]
[ x ~ h ]
[ ʒ ]
[ ɟ ]
[ ʝ ]
[ dz ]
[ ]
[ ]
[ t ]~[ ]
[ ʐ ]
[ ʃ ]
[ ]
[ i ]
Unicode valueU+004A, U+006A, U+0237
Alphabetical position10
Time period1524 to present
Descendants  Ɉ
Sisters І



Variations(See below)
Other letters commonly used with j(x), ij

J is the tenth letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its normal name in English is jay // or, now uncommonly, jy // . [1] [2] When used for the palatal approximant, it may be called yod ( /jɒd/ or /jd/ ) or yot ( /jɒt/ or /jt/ ).

Letter (alphabet) grapheme in an alphabetic system of writing

A letter is a grapheme in an alphabetic system of writing. It is a visual representation of the smallest unit of spoken sound. Letters broadly correspond to phonemes in the spoken form of the language, although there is rarely a consistent, exact correspondence between letters and phonemes.

English alphabet Latin alphabet consisting of 26 letters, each having an uppercase and a lowercase form

The modern English alphabet is a Latin alphabet consisting of 26 letters, each having an upper- and lower-case form. The same letters constitute the ISO basic Latin alphabet. The alphabet's current form originated in about the 7th century from the Latin script. Since then, various letters have been added, or removed, to give the current Modern English alphabet of 26 letters:

The ISO basic Latin alphabet is a Latin-script alphabet and consists of two sets of 26 letters, codified in various national and international standards and used widely in international communication. They are the same letters that comprise the English alphabet.



Children's book from 1743, showing I and J considered as the same letter Childs new plaything 1743 alphabet.jpg
Children's book from 1743, showing I and J considered as the same letter

The letter J was used as the swash letter I[ citation needed ], used for the letter I at the end of Roman numerals when following another I, as in XXIIJ or xxiij instead of XXIII or xxiii for the Roman numeral representing 23. A distinctive usage emerged 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, 'I' and 'J' were different shapes for the same letter, both equally representing /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 initial sound in the English word "yet").

Swash (typography) A typographical flourish found on some letterforms, particularly in italics

A swash is a typographical flourish, such as an exaggerated serif, terminal, tail, entry stroke, etc., on a glyph. The use of swash characters dates back to at least the 16th century, as they can be seen in Ludovico Vicentino degli Arrighi's La Operina, which is dated 1522. As with italic type in general, they were inspired by the conventions of period handwriting. Arrighi's designs influenced designers in Italy and particularly in France.

Roman numerals Numbers in the Roman numeral system

The numeric system represented by Roman numerals originated in ancient Rome and remained the usual way of writing numbers throughout Europe well into the Late Middle Ages. Numbers in this system are represented by combinations of letters from the Latin alphabet. Roman numerals, as used today, employ seven symbols, each with a fixed integer value, as follows:

Use in writing systems


In English, j most commonly represents the affricate /dʒ/ . In Old English, the phoneme /dʒ/ was represented orthographically with cg and . [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/ in Old English (for example, iest and, later jest), while using dg elsewhere (for example, hedge). [5] Later, many other uses of i (later j) were added in loanwords 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 1633. [6] In loan words such as raj, j may represent /ʒ/. In some of these, including raj , Azerbaijan , Taj Mahal , and Beijing , the regular pronunciation /dʒ/ is actually closer to the native pronunciation, making the use of /ʒ/ an instance of a hyperforeignism. [7] Occasionally, j represents the original /j/ sound, as in Hallelujah and fjord (see Yodh for details). In words of Spanish origin, where j represents the voiceless velar fricative [ x ] (such as jalapeño), English speakers usually approximate with the voiceless glottal fricative /h/ .

Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest historical form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers probably in the mid-5th century, and the first Old English literary works date from the mid-7th century. After the Norman conquest of 1066, English was replaced, for a time, as the language of the upper classes by Anglo-Norman, a relative of French. This is regarded as marking the end of the Old English era, as during this period the English language was heavily influenced by Anglo-Norman, developing into a phase known now as Middle English.

Old French was the language spoken in Northern France from the 8th century to the 14th century. In the 14th century, these dialects came to be collectively known as the langue d'oïl, contrasting with the langue d'oc or Occitan language in the south of France. The mid-14th century is taken as the transitional period to Middle French, the language of the French Renaissance, specifically based on the dialect of the Île-de-France region.

A loanword is a word adopted from one language and incorporated into another language without translation. This is in contrast to cognates, which are words in two or more languages that are similar because they share an etymological origin, and calques, which involve translation.

In English, j is the fourth least frequently used letter in words, being more frequent only than z , q , and x . It is, however, quite common in proper nouns, especially personal names.

Letter frequency

The frequency of letters in text has been studied for use in cryptanalysis, and frequency analysis in particular, dating back to the Iraqi mathematician Al-Kindi, who formally developed the method.

Z Last letter of the Latin alphabet

Z is the 26th and final letter of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet.

Q letter of the Latin Alphabet

Q is the 17th letter of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. In nearly all languages using the Latin script it is a consonant, not a vowel.

Other languages

Germanic and Eastern-European languages

Pronunciation of written <j> in European languages Pronunciation of J in Europa.png
Pronunciation of written <j> in European languages

The great majority of Germanic languages, such as German, Dutch, Icelandic, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian, use j for the palatal approximant /j/, which is usually represented by the letter y in English. Notable exceptions are English, Scots and (to a lesser degree) Luxembourgish. j also represents /j/ in Albanian, and those Uralic, Slavic and Baltic languages that use the Latin alphabet, such as Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Polish, Czech, Serbo-Croatian, Slovak, Latvian and Lithuanian. Some related languages, such as Serbo-Croatian and Macedonian, also adopted j into the Cyrillic alphabet for the same purpose. Because of this standard, the lower case letter was chosen to be used in the IPA as the phonetic symbol for the sound.

Germanic languages sub-branch of the Indo-European (IE) language

The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family spoken natively by a population of about 515 million people mainly in Europe, North America, Oceania, and Southern Africa.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Dutch language West Germanic language

Dutch(Nederlands ) is a West Germanic language spoken by around 23 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting the majority of people in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is the third most widely spoken Germanic language, after its close relatives English and German.

Romance languages

In the Romance languages, j has generally developed from its original palatal approximant value in Latin to some kind of fricative. In French, Portuguese, Catalan, and Romanian it has been fronted to the postalveolar fricative /ʒ/ (like s in English measure). In Spanish, by contrast, it has been both devoiced and backed from an earlier /ʝ/ to a present-day /x ~ h/, [8] with the actual phonetic realization depending on the speaker's dialect/s.

Romance languages all the related languages derived from Vulgar Latin

The Romance languages are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin between the third and eighth centuries and that form a subgroup of the Italic languages within the Indo-European language family.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

In modern standard Italian spelling, only Latin words, proper nouns (such as Jesi, Letojanni, Juventus etc.) or those borrowed from 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. j is also used to render /j/ in dialect, e.g. Romanesque ajo for standard aglio (–/ʎ/–) (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, which still uses the letter j to represent /j/ (and sometimes also [dʒ] or [gj], depending on its environment). [9]


In Basque, the diaphoneme 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 Gipuzkoa).

Non-European languages

Among non-European languages that have adopted the Latin script, j stands for /ʒ/ in Turkish and Azerbaijani, for /ʐ/ in Tatar. j stands for // in Indonesian, Somali, Malay, Igbo, Shona, Oromo, Turkmen, and Zulu. It represents a voiced palatal plosive /ɟ/ in Konkani, Yoruba, and Swahili. In Kiowa, j stands for a voiceless alveolar plosive, /t/.

j stands for // in the romantization systems of most of the Languages of India such as Hindi and Telugu and stands for // in the Romantization of Japanese.

In Chinese Pinyin, j stands for //, the unaspirated equivalent of q.

The Royal Thai General System of Transcription does not use the letter j, although it is used in some proper names and non-standard transcriptions to represent either [tɕ] or [tɕʰ] (the latter following Pali/Sanskrit root equivalents).

In romanized Pashto, j represents ځ, pronounced [dz].

Computing codes

Unicode 74U+004A106U+006A567U+0237
UTF-8 744A1066A200 183C8 B7
Numeric character reference &#74;&#x4A;&#106;&#x6A;&#567;&#x237;
EBCDIC family209D114591
ASCII 1744A1066A
1 Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.

Unicode also has a dotless variant, ȷ (U+0237). It is primarily used in Landsmålsalfabet and in mathematics. It is not intended to be used with diacritics since the normal j is softdotted in Unicode (that is, the dot is removed if a diacritic is to be placed above; Unicode further states that, for example i+ ¨ ≠ ı+¨ and the same holds true for j and ȷ). [13]

In Unicode, a duplicate of 'J' for use as a special phonetic character in historical Greek linguistics is encoded in the Greek script block 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. [14] [15] An uppercase version of this letter was added to the Unicode Standard at U+037F with the release of version 7.0 in June 2014. [16] [17]

Wingdings smiley issue

In the Wingdings font by Microsoft, the letter "J" is rendered as a smiley face (note this is distinct from the Unicode code point U+263A, which renders as ☺). In Microsoft applications, ":)" is automatically replaced by a smiley rendered in a specific font face when composing rich text documents or HTML email. This autocorrection feature can be switched off or changed to a Unicode smiley. [18] [19]

Other uses

Other representations

NATO phonetic Morse code
Juliet ·–––
ICS Juliet.svg Semaphore Juliet.svg Sign language J.svg Braille J0.svg
Signal flag Flag semaphore American manual alphabet (ASL fingerspelling) Braille

Related Research Articles

Fricatives are consonants produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the back of the tongue against the soft palate, in the case of German ; or the side of the tongue against the molars, in the case of Welsh. This turbulent airflow is called frication. A particular subset of fricatives are the sibilants. When forming a sibilant, one still is forcing air through a narrow channel, but in addition, the tongue is curled lengthwise to direct the air over the edge of the teeth. English, ,, and are examples of sibilants.

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabetic system of phonetic notation based primarily on the Latin alphabet. It was devised by the International Phonetic Association in the late 19th century as a standardized representation of the sounds of spoken language. The IPA is used by lexicographers, foreign language students and teachers, linguists, speech-language pathologists, singers, actors, constructed language creators and translators.

N Letter of the Latin Alphabet

N is the fourteenth letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet.

T letter of the Latin alphabet

T is the 20th letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. It is derived from the Semitic letter taw via the Greek letter tau. In English, it is most commonly used to represent the voiceless alveolar plosive, a sound it also denotes in the International Phonetic Alphabet. It is the most commonly used consonant and the second most common letter in English-language texts.

An affricate is a consonant that begins as a stop and releases as a fricative, generally with the same place of articulation. It is often difficult to decide if a stop and fricative form a single phoneme or a consonant pair. English has two affricate phonemes, and, often spelled ch and j, respectively.

A caron, háček or haček also known as a hachek, wedge, check, inverted circumflex, inverted hat, is a diacritic commonly placed over certain letters in the orthography of some Baltic, Slavic, Finnic, Samic, Berber, and other languages to indicate a change in the related letter's pronunciation.

Labialization secondary articulatory feature of sounds in some languages

Labialization is a secondary articulatory feature of sounds in some languages. Labialized sounds involve the lips while the remainder of the oral cavity produces another sound. The term is normally restricted to consonants. When vowels involve the lips, they are called rounded.

Ll/ll is a digraph which occurs in several natural languages.

Digraph (orthography) pair of characters used to write one phoneme

A digraph or digram is a pair of characters used in the orthography of a language to write either a single phoneme, or a sequence of phonemes that does not correspond to the normal values of the two characters combined.

Ezh, also called the "tailed z", is a letter whose lower case form is used in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), representing the voiced postalveolar fricative consonant. For example, the pronunciation of "si" in vision and precision, or the "s" in treasure. See also Ž, the Persian alphabet letter ژ and the Cyrillic ж.

When used as a diacritic mark, the term dot is usually reserved for the Interpunct, or to the glyphs 'combining dot above' ( ◌̇ ) and 'combining dot below' ( ◌̣ ) which may be combined with some letters of the extended Latin alphabets in use in Central European languages and Vietnamese.

In phonetics, palato-alveolar consonants are postalveolar consonants, nearly always sibilants, that are weakly palatalized with a domed (bunched-up) tongue. They are common sounds cross-linguistically and occur in English words such as ship and chip.

Ž letter of the Latin alphabet

The grapheme Ž is formed from Latin Z with the addition of caron. It is used in various contexts, usually denoting the voiced postalveolar fricative, a sound similar to English g in mirage, or Portuguese and French j. In the International Phonetic Alphabet this sound is denoted with, but the lowercase ž is used in the Americanist phonetic notation, as well as in the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet. In addition, ž is used as the romanisation of Cyrillic ж in ISO 9 and scientific transliteration.

History of the International Phonetic Alphabet History of the IPA phonetic representation system

The International Phonetic Alphabet was created soon after the International Phonetic Association was established in the late 19th century. It was intended as an international system of phonetic transcription for oral languages, originally for pedagogical purposes. The Association was established in Paris in 1886 by French and British language teachers led by Paul Passy. The prototype of the alphabet appeared in Phonetic Teachers' Association (1888b). The Association based their alphabet upon the Romic alphabet of Henry Sweet, which in turn was based on the Phonotypic Alphabet of Isaac Pitman and the Palæotype of Alexander John Ellis.

The Uralic Phonetic Alphabet (UPA) or Finno-Ugric transcription system is a phonetic transcription or notational system used predominantly for the transcription and reconstruction of Uralic languages. It was first published in 1901 by Eemil Nestor Setälä, a Finnish linguist.


  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. "Wörterbuchnetz" . Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  4. De le lettere nuωvamente aggiunte ne la lingua Italiana in Italian Wikisource.
  5. 1 2 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. p. 39. ISBN   0-521-26476-6.
  6. English Grammar, Charles Butler, 1633
  7. Wells, John (1982). Accents of English 1: An Introduction. Cambridge, UN: Cambridge University Press. p. 108. ISBN   0-521-29719-2.
  8. Penny, Ralph John (2002). A History of the Spanish Language. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN   0-521-01184-1.
  9. Cipolla, Gaetano (2007). The Sounds of Sicilian: A Pronunciation Guide. Mineola, NY: Legas. pp. 11–12. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
  10. 1 2 Constable, Peter (2004-04-19). "L2/04-132 Proposal to add additional phonetic characters to the UCS" (PDF).
  11. 1 2 Everson, Michael; et al. (2002-03-20). "L2/02-141: Uralic Phonetic Alphabet characters for the UCS" (PDF).
  12. Ruppel, Klaas; Rueter, Jack; Kolehmainen, Erkki I. (2006-04-07). "L2/06-215: Proposal for Encoding 3 Additional Characters of the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet" (PDF).
  13. The Unicode Standard, Version 8.0, p. 293 (at the very bottom)
  14. Nick Nicholas, "Yot" Archived 2012-08-05 at Archive.today
  15. "Unicode Character 'GREEK LETTER YOT' (U+03F3)" . Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  16. "Unicode: Greek and Coptic" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-06-26.
  17. "Unicode 7.0.0". Unicode Consortium . Retrieved 2014-06-26.
  18. Pirillo, Chris (26 June 2010). "J Smiley Outlook Email: Problem and Fix!" . Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  19. Chen, Raymond (23 May 2006). "That mysterious J". The Old New Thing. MSDN Blogs . Retrieved 2011-04-01.
  20. "Car Registration Years | Suffix Number Plates | Platehunter". www.platehunter.com. Retrieved 2018-12-20.