Why is one man primarily responsible for the existence of the letter "J," and what letter did it split off from?

Recently we asked you to let us know which of the twenty-six letters of the alphabet you’d like us to investigate. A resounding number of you suggested the consonant /j/. From its humble beginnings as a Roman numeral to its eventual tenth position in the English alphabet, /j/ has had quite a linguistic journey.

“J” is a bit of a late bloomer; after all, it was the last letter added to the alphabet. It is no coincidence that /i/ and /j/ stand side by side – they actually started out as the same character. The letter /j/ began as a swash, a typographical embellishment for the already existing /i/. With the introduction of lowercase letters to the Roman numeric system, /j/ was commonly used to denote the conclusion of a series of one’s – as in “xiij” for the number 13.

(By the way, what’s the name of the dot over the “j” and “i,” and why do we use them? Find out here.)

J’s phonetic quest for independence probably began with the sound of the letter /i/. Originally a Phoenician pictogram representing a leg with a hand, and denoting a sound similar to the /y/ in “yes,” /i/ was later adopted by Semitic groups to describe the word “arm” which, in Semitic languages, began with a /j/ – also possessing the same /y/ sound as in “yes.”

Both /i/ and /j/ were used interchangeably by scribes to express the sound of both the vowel and the consonant. It wasn’t until 1524 when Gian Giorgio Trissino, an Italian Renaissance grammarian known as the father of the letter /j/, made a clear distinction between the two sounds. Trissino’s contribution is important because once he distinguished the soft  /j/ sound, as in “jam” (probably a loan sound), he was able to identify the Greek “Iesus” a translation of the Hebrew “Yeshua,” as the Modern English “Jesus.” Thus the current phoneme for /j/ was born.

The English language is infamous for matching similar phonemes with different letters (take a look at the letter “k” here) and /j/ is certainly no exception. In addition to the aforementioned soft /j/ sound, as in “jam,” which is phonetically identical to the soft /g/ as in “general,” the /j/ in Taj Mahal takes on a slight variation of that same sound and is probably the closest to Trissino’s original phonetic interpretation. And coming full circle, the /j/ sound you hear in the word “hallelujah” is pronounced “halleluyah.”

It’s your turn again. Tell us which letter you would most like us to pursue next, and we will go after the story behind the alphabet member that receives the most suggestions in the comments.


Bank Systems + Technology August 1, 1998 | Amato-McCoy, Deena Reflecting an industry focus on off-premises deployment, Citibank has signed a deal to install its ATMs in up to 3,000 Blockbuster Video stores across the nation. site citibanks ignon

The deal stands to balloon New York-based Citibanks ATM presence from nine states and the District of Columbia to 39 states and Washington, D.C., by mid-1999. NCR, Dayton, Ohio, supplies the $311 billion banks ATMs and, at presstime, was in talks to support the Blockbuster rollout, according to Mark Rodgers, Citibank spokesman.

We expect to make a lot of progress in our ATM installations by the end of 1998, Rodgers said. A bulk of the machines will be in place between the end of the year and early 1999. Once all 3,000 units are in place, we expect to begin evaluating feedback from our customers and improve even further from there.

Citibank tested the Blockbuster ATM concept in May at five stores: one in Westbury, N.Y., one in Las Vegas, one in Dallas and two in California. Rodgers said the new units would be installed in Blockbuster locations based on traffic patterns and proximity to other ATMs. Dallas-based Blockbuster has 6,000 video stores nationwide.

The Blockbuster ATMs are primarily cash dispensers, but as customer volume increases Citibank may add such functionality as deposits, funds transfers, multilingual touchscreens, and stock/mutual fund trading, Rodgers said.

Citibanks U.S. partnership with Blockbuster stemmed from a Latin American project with the video retailer last year.

We have a modest presence in the form of mini-branches in Lima [Peru]. Within four months [of going live], 44% of our total retail banking transactions were conducted at this Blockbuster location, Rodgers explained. This is a strong indication that customers enjoyed the convenience of doing business at this and other Blockbuster locations throughout Peru and Latin America because they are well-situated. That is when we looked at an alliance in the United States. citibanks ignon

Citibank, too, is launching retail banking outlets in Kinkos copy centers. It expects to test between up to eight sales and information centers in Kinkos stores over the next year, according to Rodgers. The first pilot was in Las Vegas and, based on the pilots results, the bank may open more of the 500-square-foot outlets in the 880-store chains locations, Rodgers said.

We will use these centers to do demos of our on-line banking products on PCs available at the sites and to distribute applications to open new accounts at our branches, he added. The extended-hours centers also will feature interactive video screens that allow customers to remotely interact with Citibank service staff and specialists for investment services.

Citibanks alliances with national retailers like Blockbuster and Kinkos are part of a grand consumer strategy stretching into the millennium.

We have a mind-set, or long-term goal, to reach 1 billion customers by 2010, Rodgers said. This is the best time for us to start expanding our customer base, not through brick and mortar but through electronic access. There are new ways to achieve this milestone, and by forming strategic alliances we can attract more customers.

Amato-McCoy, Deena


  1. blurbismoreimportantthancover -  December 21, 2015 - 12:02 pm

    “jam” does not have /j/. /j/ is the sound in “you”

  2. Yvette -  June 13, 2015 - 10:47 am

    Yeshua is NOT a translation for Jesus! Yeshua is HIS original HEBREW name and it does NOT change. Jesus is a Greek Pagan name. Please research and you will see.

    • Zakkai -  August 6, 2015 - 9:32 am

      Jesus was closer to Joshua which is really Yahshua…

    • Charlie Pullman -  June 15, 2016 - 10:23 am

      And here I thought the letter /J/ was fashioned after Christmas candy canes! :-D

  3. Boone -  June 1, 2015 - 7:21 pm

    For a dictionary, you made a mistake: “one” plural is ones, not “one’s” with an apostrophe. With the aforementioned apostrophe, it indicates possession.

  4. Mkholisi -  November 4, 2014 - 8:08 am

    Nice posts. The J issue is kind of confusing. Nonetheless, can you please investigate W

  5. Name -  August 2, 2014 - 2:08 pm

    J am usjng a new typewrjter style. J do not ljke how jt makes my eyes look ljke jays.

  6. Watchmen Yisrayl -  January 13, 2013 - 6:08 pm

    I Would Like To Request The Order And Timeline History Of The Hebrew, Greek, Latin And English Alphabets Vs Language Sounds… Thank You In Advance…

  7. Watchmen Yisrayl -  January 13, 2013 - 5:53 pm

    Question??? Where Are My Previous Posts??? I Recently Submitted???

  8. Watchmen Yisrayl -  January 13, 2013 - 5:47 pm

    Hebrew 3063


    From 3034; celebrated; Jehudah (or Judah), the name of five Israelites; also of the tribe descended from the first, and of its territory:–Judah.

  9. Watchmen Yisrayl -  January 13, 2013 - 5:18 pm

    Hebrew 410


    Shortened from 352; strength; as adjective mighty; especially the Almighty (but used also of any deity):–God (god), X goodly, X great, idol, might (-y one), power, strong. Compare names in “-el.”

  10. Watchmen Yisrayl -  January 13, 2013 - 4:59 pm

    Hebrew 430


    Plural of 433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative:–angels, X exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty.

  11. Watchmen Yisrayl -  January 13, 2013 - 4:57 pm

    Hebrew 3050


    Contracted for 3068, and meaning the same; Jah, the sacred name:–Jah, the Lord, most vehement. Cp. names in “-iah,” “-jah.”

  12. Watchmen Yisrayl -  January 13, 2013 - 4:56 pm

    Hebrew 3068


    From 1961; (the) self Existent or eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God:–Jehovah, the Lord. Compare 3050, 3069.

  13. Watchmen Yisrayl -  January 13, 2013 - 4:51 pm

    Greek 2424


    of Hebrew origin (H3091); Jesus (i.e. Jehoshua), the name of our Lord and two (three) other Israelites:–Jesus.

  14. Watchmen Yisrayl -  January 13, 2013 - 4:49 pm

    Hebrew 3091


    From 3068 and 3467; Jehovah-saved; Jehoshua (that is, Joshua), the Jewish leader:–Jehoshua, Jehoshuah, Joshua. Compare 1954, 3442.

  15. ed -  February 3, 2012 - 8:07 pm

    Mr Benjamin, don’t complain about the pronunciation of your name,
    as far as I know in Spanish every letter is pronounce the same ,no matter where is place ,it will always have the same sound .
    if you prefer been call Ben Yamin them spelled that way.
    it just so happen the same way with the letter W
    they pronounce ( guater)they pronounce (vater)
    in this case is because there are no Spanish words with the latter W.

  16. Ebony -  February 2, 2012 - 5:41 am

    i think we all want q (including myself), although i am of the opinion that all the letters deserve to be investigated, as well as their use and pronunciation in languages other than English (like Spanish, or even pinyin, esp. for j because they are so different than English) and i think it would probably save time and effort to just do them, well, alphabetically.

  17. Vindu -  February 1, 2012 - 9:31 am

    The reason why I like this, Dictionary.com blog though a late newcomer!…. Forgive me I must need to state my Bengali (originating frm Sanskrit), heritage and here I noticed that there they have among many a letter similar to Y, yet they are need to be pronounced as J when, mind you, begins especially as proper noun; for example Yogesh… a male name (pronounced as Jogesh….), Yogamaya (Again Jogamaya, a female name)

    I very much like Q to be investigated. Why Q always has to have U in Eng? It does boggles my mind.

    Again thank you

  18. Ryan -  February 1, 2012 - 3:42 am

    It’s a useless letter. It only makes two sounds in English, and they are sounds that are already made by other letters – K and S. Its only purpose seems to be to combine with H to make the CH sound, which also sounds a little redundant – CH could easily be replaced with J.

    • court -  October 20, 2015 - 6:28 am

      This is stupid. lol Church would be Jurj. Doesn’t sound the same.

  19. j -  February 1, 2012 - 1:51 am

    j is a lovely letter

  20. Me -  January 31, 2012 - 7:20 pm

    In French W is called double v. Also in French, J is pronounced like the second g in some pronunciations of garage, also like in azure.

  21. me -  January 31, 2012 - 6:58 pm

    W, Q, X, or Y. :))

  22. Brendah -  September 1, 2011 - 3:11 pm

    I too, Drex0131, was curious about the origin of the letter, “W.” My research provides the following information:

    “W” the 23rd. letter of the English alphabet: its sound was represented in Anglo-Saxton manuscripts by “uu,” or “u” until about 900 A.D., then by (wen) borrowed from the runic alphabet, or sometimes by “v.” In the 11th. century a ligatured “VV” or “vv” was introduced by Norman scribes to replace the “wen.” The “wen” is an Old English (rune), replaced in the 11th. century by the letter “W.” A “rune” is defined as a secret, a mystery, a “runic” character; readopted in the 17th. century in form of Old Norse. Also, any of the characters of an alphabet used by the ancient Scandinavians and other ancient Germanic peoples. It is something inscribed or written in such characters/similar character or mark attributed to it having some mysterious meaning or magical power attributed to it.


  23. Jake Campbell -  April 26, 2011 - 4:43 am

    I wouldn’t mind hearing about all the letters, really. They all have their own fascinating and intriguing history. I would also like to know about how the order of the letters in the alphabet (abcde… etc) came to be, and why it isn’t organized in order of frequency in the English/Roman alphabet (etaoi… etc), or the order of when they came to be (j at the end instead of z). Great article.

  24. noypi -  April 25, 2011 - 12:31 am

    Start with letter A.

  25. Irvin -  April 23, 2011 - 11:20 pm

    Do Q!!!
    Or X!!!

  26. JahfroJahvid -  April 23, 2011 - 10:16 am


    I understand your point of view. Modern hebrew does not acknowledge the letter ‘J’ nor it’s sound. But in my studies I have found this to be very erroneous by those the scholars of today who profess to speak real hebrew. The modern hebrew they speak today is NOT the ancient hebrew that was spoken in Biblical times; it’s more Yiddish. I believe they are suppressing the real truth about allot of things including the ‘J’ sound in the true hebrew language……..

    When you even begin to investigate the letter ‘Y’ and it’s sound, you will find it very suspect. As i mentioned, If you take a look at the 1611 Edition of the King James Version of the Scriptures, you will clearly see that the letter ‘i’ was used to carry the ‘J’ sound, not the ‘y’ sound. For examples words like Jerusalem, JAH, Judah, Judges, Jesus, Jebusi, Jericho, Joshua, Jordan, Jebusite, Journey, jaws, joyful and many more words are spelled…..Ierusalem, IAH, iudges, Iesus, Iebusi, Iericho, Ioshua, Iordan, Iebusite, Iourney, iaws, ioyful etc…..Should all the words be pronounced with a ‘y’ sound?

    According to the Funk and Wagnall’s Standard dictionary the letters “I” and “J” derived from the Greek “Iota” which in turn derived from the Phoenician consonant “Yod” (Jod). What is surprising to me is that the letter “Y” did not derive from the Phoenician “Yod”.

    I understand that the Sephardic so-called “Jews” had preserved the original pronunciation of the Hebrew letters and that their phonetic system classifies “JOD” as an affricative palatal giving the Hebrew letter (Jod) the consonantal sound of “J”.

    When we look up the word “YAH” by itself in the standard dictionaries it is negative concerning the Originator’s name and when we look up the name “JAH” by itself it is positive concerning His Name. From the look of things according to the dictionaries it seems that the name “JAH” has the preeminence above the word “YAH”.

    The letter “Y” came in barely 200 years before letter “J”, in the late 1300′s! So what’s the point of stating that the letter “J” came into the English language in the 1500′s? Most letters of English are of modern origin anyway; But they got their sounds from the ancient languages.

    I will agree it can get confusing, but there is no doubt that these letters and sounds have been manipulated by those who claim to be the authority on the Hebrew Language and such…..


  27. ImStill08 -  April 19, 2011 - 1:13 pm

    How about “M”, because my name starts with letter “M”. Investigate! now… lol!

  28. ajulik1997 -  April 17, 2011 - 12:02 pm

    Q, X or W

  29. Noelia -  April 15, 2011 - 11:45 pm

    The letter N or the letter R should be investigated

  30. Maggie -  April 13, 2011 - 10:19 am


  31. Oh so Pogi -  April 11, 2011 - 5:22 pm

    People here obviously don’t read when I said Q had already been investigated. People! Read first before you talk! You might look more dumber than you are! sheesh.

  32. Zupa -  April 11, 2011 - 12:27 am

    Is there a similar story connecting the origins of C and S? Does it have anything to do with Ancient Greek σ and ς?

  33. Edward -  April 10, 2011 - 11:14 am

    I think Q should be investigated next

  34. grrrrrrrr -  April 10, 2011 - 11:10 am

    or what about “!” or”_” or ” ” ” but finding out about “letter” would be really cool too

  35. RRR -  April 10, 2011 - 11:10 am

    The letter R please!

  36. grrrrrrrr -  April 10, 2011 - 11:08 am

    why hasnt anyone say g? but w,x, y, z and q sound cool too. nobody has said g though(or a, b,c,e,and i dont thik f

  37. Brad -  April 10, 2011 - 11:00 am

    “a series of one’s – as in “xiij” for the number 13.”

    “Ones” is plural here, not possessive. No apostrophe is needed.

  38. SMBC!! -  April 10, 2011 - 10:34 am

    dare you people to find out what SMBC stands for! ;)

  39. angel -  April 10, 2011 - 9:51 am

    do the letters n and m

  40. Johnnie Sanchez -  April 10, 2011 - 9:49 am

    I want the letter C or Z por favor!

  41. Curly -  April 10, 2011 - 9:23 am


    You wrote,

    “What they fail to realize is that the J sound was very much apart of the Hebrew language; and the letter ‘i’ was used to carry this sound before the letter ‘j’ came into existence.”

    It seems to me that what you are trying to say is that these names were not Hebrew and were indeed pronounced with a J sound, but as there is no J in the Hebrew language, the Y sound was used instead.

    If that is what you are saying, I disagree. Most of the J names in the Bible are Hebrew names. They were most definitely pronounced like a Y, not a J. Joshua is actually Yehoshua. Jeremiah is Yirmiya. Jacob is Yaakov.

    On the other hand, interestingly enough, the Hebrew Yitzkhak became Issac, not . . . Jissac.

  42. JahfroJahvid -  April 10, 2011 - 9:01 am

    The English language is arguably one of the most confusing languages in the world. Why? It has always been an evolving language…a language that has borrowed linguistics from many other languages to make it what it is today. It has many rules when it comes to grammar but when it is spoken amongst the common people in the real world, those rules are broken all the time; which makes it confusing for those trying to learn it for the first time. With that being said English is most difficult language to learn to speak and write for those who are not native to it. It is also the most important language to be learned and spoken in the world. All foreign diplomats, government officials and the like must be able to speak English. Many foreigners realize this fact and integrate ESL classes into their education.

  43. Melz -  April 10, 2011 - 8:40 am

    Investigate “M” please! And perhaps touch on it’s visual similarity to the letter “W”?

  44. DJ -  April 10, 2011 - 8:37 am

    Z and why it is pronounced differently between US ans UK.

  45. marcus -  April 10, 2011 - 7:16 am


  46. Amanda-Liana -  April 10, 2011 - 6:19 am

    What about /e/? I want to know why it’s the most common letter in the English language; why do we use it so much?

  47. Colin -  April 10, 2011 - 4:36 am

    W! the letter W!

  48. Nico -  April 10, 2011 - 3:33 am

    w please!
    In German it makes the “v” sound, in English “w” (and it’s a semi vowel), most languages don’t have it, and on top of all that it sometimes makes the “oo” sound in other languages!

  49. Linda -  April 9, 2011 - 10:14 pm

    Many early American documents have the letter ‘f’ used as a ‘s’. Where did this originate??

  50. TARDIS!!! -  April 9, 2011 - 9:59 pm

    i reccon T,A,R,D,I or S!!!!
    or even W, H or O!!!

  51. Tina -  April 9, 2011 - 9:08 pm

    I’d definitely be really interested to see some history on Q or X

  52. lmfao -  April 9, 2011 - 9:05 pm

    what about V, guys?! I never really think about it

  53. Zippi -  April 9, 2011 - 8:41 pm

    How curious. In Italian, “J” is callèd “i lunga” (long i) so I find it strange that an Italian used it to represent a sound that is now represented by “J” in English and not in Italian.
    I have not seen the history of “X” or that of “Q” here. I would, however, like to see an explanation of the evolution of the letter “C.” How is it that “C” can create so many different sounds?

  54. Phil -  April 9, 2011 - 8:40 pm

    You should investigate Q and/or X.

  55. Kitty -  April 9, 2011 - 7:16 pm

    Here’s a noodle scratcher: why is pudgy a word but pudge is not?

  56. Tobias Mook -  April 9, 2011 - 4:24 pm

    Q. In my old age, I’ve taken a liking to the so called, “O Aristocrat”

  57. Scarlett -  April 9, 2011 - 4:13 pm

    Q, definitely. Its a weird letter and I don’t know why U has to follow it…

  58. Daniel -  April 9, 2011 - 4:06 pm

    I think that the letter “W” or “X” should be investigated because the letter “W” should be called double-V instead of double-U and why does it use a letter in its pronounciation? The letter “X” should be investigated because of the letter shape. Why does it use a symbol as its shape of the letter?

  59. Rick -  April 9, 2011 - 3:47 pm

    I’d like my parents investigated

  60. Jenn -  April 9, 2011 - 3:40 pm

    the letter c, and why it doesn’t have its own sound

  61. Dana -  April 9, 2011 - 3:20 pm

    OK you scrabble players: tranq, qat, qi , qanat, qoph, qaid, qindar, qiviut, qwerty

  62. Krishna -  April 9, 2011 - 2:53 pm

    letter Q

  63. PineTreeGirl -  April 9, 2011 - 2:36 pm

    I think I agree with a lot of people when I say “Q”. Why does it carry “U” with it all the time? And why, then, can “Qi” be valid in Scrabble, since “U” is not there?
    A mysterious letter, indeed…

  64. Natalie -  April 9, 2011 - 2:04 pm

    Q absolutely. It is the most curious looking letter and is a pretty rare one too. I’d live to know why it must be followed by a “U” most of the time, and why it sometimes sounds like “kwuh” and othertimes (like when it isn’t proceeded by a “U”) it sounds like “kuh”.

  65. :o) -  April 9, 2011 - 1:54 pm

    How about “A”? It’s the first letter of the alphabet, so I feel that it is a pretty important letter

  66. The Night Flower -  April 9, 2011 - 1:45 pm

    The dot above both the i and j is called the “tittle”.

  67. Razimus -  April 9, 2011 - 1:35 pm


  68. Gloria -  April 9, 2011 - 1:34 pm

    I would love to hear about the letter W, E, X, or Q.
    W mainly because of it’s name – why double-U?
    E because it’s so very common.
    X because of how it looks.
    And Q because its so interesting – it’s O with a funny tail. And it always before a U.

  69. Josie -  April 9, 2011 - 1:32 pm

    Q and why it needs the little comma like structure in it (and what it is called)
    and why it is an O with a comma and sounds like Kyu.

  70. Tray -  April 9, 2011 - 1:11 pm

    Did you really use an apostrophe in the plural word ” ones ” in the second paragraph?

  71. Neto -  April 9, 2011 - 12:52 pm

    Maybe the relation of U, V, W, B and F. ‘Cause in spanish, the B and V are almost the same sound, like in the word “vivo” (live in spanish), they pronounce as “beebo”. And F because of @Corlyss said. Why W didn’t exist in latin? And why most of latin words that, now, in spanish or portuguese (romance languages) are written with U were written with V?

  72. tim -  April 9, 2011 - 12:41 pm

    T it should be but really its just a letter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  73. cas -  April 9, 2011 - 12:21 pm

    do the C. sometimes its sound is that of a K and sometimes its an S.

  74. Persona -  April 9, 2011 - 12:13 pm

    z really needs to be investigated. along with A and T

  75. JahfroJahvid -  April 9, 2011 - 11:40 am


    Since the letter j was not invented until the 1500′s, In Old English, the letter ‘i’ was used to represent the ‘J’ sound as in “jump, jam, judge etc….This can be clearly seen in the 1611 Version of the King James Bible. Thus in Psalms 68:4, the Name of JAH is spelled IAH. Also, the name Jesus is spelled Iesus. Some say that there was no letter J in the Hebrew, therefore the names Jah and Jesus could never have existed; this is only partly true. What they fail to realize is that the J sound was very much apart of the Hebrew language; and the letter ‘i’ was used to carry this sound before the letter ‘j’ came into existence.


  76. MOOT -  April 9, 2011 - 11:07 am

    On tenterhooks for Q

  77. Corlyss -  April 9, 2011 - 11:05 am

    How about the V and W relationship? And why the Germanic languages pronounce V as F (they have F in their vocabulary) and W as V. Enquiring minds want to know.

  78. Chaza -  April 9, 2011 - 10:52 am

    the letter P

  79. Kareem -  April 9, 2011 - 10:37 am

    Q, because it should be removed from the English alphabet. ‘kw’ is a valid replacement. Who ran with such a useless letter! Who’s the progenitor!?

  80. Thomas -  April 9, 2011 - 10:18 am

    As others have said, what is the use and origin of the letter X.

  81. Mauricio, Cuenca. -  April 9, 2011 - 10:12 am

    W!! It’s just a funny letter, in Ecuador we call it double “V” in Spain they call it “Uv double” and in Mexico double “U” I am sure they use different terms for it in different countries. It will be interesting to see if it came from U or V in reality. Thanks for the article, very interesting one. Cheers!.

  82. koni q -  April 9, 2011 - 10:10 am

    Interesting to learn about J to be sure. The capital letter J is used as part of Canada’s postal code system. When J is handwritten in a rather sloppy way it begins to look like a V. The J codes are used for the western part of the province of Quebec and the V codes are used for all of British Columbia. As a long time employee of Canada Post, I have seen hundreds, if not thousands of letters travel all the way out to BC for a round trip. It’s just one of those things.:-)

    The letter Q would be my choice for investigation too.

  83. ENTOMB | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  April 9, 2011 - 10:07 am

    [...] open to interpretation with protective antiseptic meanings. — Even for a Natural like Raymond J Johnson, Junior — Communication overload is a taxing situation — and the rich always [...]

  84. Niddhi -  April 9, 2011 - 10:01 am

    Couldn’t open the link given in the above article for the letter ‘k’.

  85. vanessa -  April 9, 2011 - 10:00 am

    “V” …and not just because i’m vain about my name.

  86. Niddhi -  April 9, 2011 - 9:59 am

    Would like to know about ‘Q’. Its unique and different from rest of the alphabets….. Almost always followed by ‘u’.

  87. Nina -  April 9, 2011 - 9:54 am

    I am curious about why U often appears as a V when it has been carved in stone. Was U once written as V and V did not exist as a letter? Was it just easier for the stonemason to make straight lines? How did we develop two letters when it seems that there used to be one?

  88. Jay -  April 9, 2011 - 9:50 am


  89. Jay -  April 9, 2011 - 9:25 am

    As a person named Jay I would like to thank Mr. Trissino. Otherwise I would be Iay.

  90. Alan Darvill -  April 9, 2011 - 9:06 am

    Why is the letter of me, ie I, a capital letter (upper case), yet the word “you” “me” “us” is a small letter (lower case)

  91. Jeff -  April 9, 2011 - 8:58 am

    I am also interested the connection amoung U, V and W.

  92. Karen -  April 9, 2011 - 8:49 am

    Couldn’t get to the website explaining the letter k…

  93. Craig -  April 9, 2011 - 8:43 am

    I would like to know about the letter X. W would be interesting too.

  94. Fleming -  April 9, 2011 - 8:11 am


  95. Goma -  April 9, 2011 - 7:52 am

    One thing that is missing in this interesting article is how ‘j’ acquired ‘h’ sound as in ‘jose’.

  96. Horseman1212 -  April 9, 2011 - 7:51 am

    I would also like to see a discussion of the punctuation mark known as the “Interrobang”.

  97. Horseman1212 -  April 9, 2011 - 7:39 am

    I would like to see the background of Z. Which in English English is pronounced Zed; and which is pronounced in American English as Zee.

  98. Goofy_Charli -  April 9, 2011 - 7:20 am

    I’d love to learn about the letter “C”. It sometimes seems like a bit of a pointless letter, in the English alphabet anyway, since “K” and “S” can make the same sounds a “C” can. Also, why do so many words have to end in “-ck”? Why not just a “k”? Doesn’t change the sound at all, “trak” would still be pronounced the same as “track”. Words with “C” in it could become “sity” instead of “city”, “kan” instead of “can”, “kreek” instead of “creek”, “sertain” instead of “certain”, what difference does it make? I suppose there are cases like “-ice” and “-ise” where rice and rise are different words that already exist and replacing “C” with “S” wouldn’t work. You could redefine sounds though…it’d be too hard to do now but if the alphabet was already that way, it’d certainly save time if “C” didn’t exist. Then there’d be a lovely 25 letters, which looks nicer than 26. Though, every Scrabble lover probably disagrees with me, “-ck” words are easy to win points on. :)

    I may be completely wrong, but I still think “C” is a silly letter. Maybe learning how it came to be might change my opinion.

  99. Sapna -  April 9, 2011 - 7:15 am

    why not investigate on letter ‘S’.

  100. Chris Broe -  April 9, 2011 - 6:42 am

    The letters do have fathers and their childhoods are all very interesting. But my admonition to writers is, “Look to the umlaut!”

    Look to the Umlaut.

  101. Ole TBoy -  April 9, 2011 - 6:33 am

    Take an obvious cue
    From readers more than a few
    And give us what we are due:
    An investigation of Q.

  102. Vivian -  April 9, 2011 - 6:27 am

    How about V?

  103. Zahra -  April 9, 2011 - 5:38 am

    Letter z awes me; its eccenric sound and extreme position in the line of letters of English alphabet are mysteries to me. Could you tell me more?

  104. Marc -  April 9, 2011 - 5:32 am

    And don’t let’s forget Captain Flewellyn (in Shakespeare’s “Henry V”), whose chosen outburst is frequently: “By Jesu!” (which he usually pronounces /J/eezoo)

  105. Alex -  April 9, 2011 - 5:13 am

    I was thinking q. I mean, why does “u” always have to come after it even in other languages. For example, in french when asking the the season we are currently in you would ask ‘En quelle saison sommes-nous, maintenant?’ or in spanish when asking the time, “que hora es?”. Also why do we have a letter “q”. It just confuses me a bit. Thank you!

  106. Heidi -  April 9, 2011 - 5:01 am

    I would be interested in hearing the history of the letters A & H please.

  107. Graham Jordan -  April 9, 2011 - 4:21 am

    Is the letter ‘Y’ regarded as the 6th vowel

  108. divz -  April 9, 2011 - 4:20 am

    q i would want too know about the letter q and ya w also if possible..

  109. Adrian -  April 9, 2011 - 4:16 am

    Letter ‘x’ shold b da next target. No answr hs yt been found to da ques y it sounds like ‘z’ in xylophone however ‘z’ is sufficient 4 da uterance of that sound? Mystery OF ‘x’ should b uncovrd bcz it hs a questionable identity!

  110. Deepak Shakalya -  April 9, 2011 - 3:21 am

    Good one!

  111. Paul K.Joseph -  April 9, 2011 - 2:17 am

    Very good

  112. Nabuqudurizhur -  April 9, 2011 - 2:04 am

    How about “tvordisnyak”, or the Russian “hard sign”… :)

    Seriously, how about “Q”?

    No relation to John De Lancie…

  113. Andrew -  April 9, 2011 - 1:24 am

    Dictionary.com has already covered the Hotword Q in their topic “Why does the letter Q almost always need to appear with a U in order to be useful?” =/

    I’d like to learn more about IPA characters instead.

  114. mishel macwan -  April 9, 2011 - 12:08 am

    It will be interesting to know about the letter ‘Q’. It has quite an artistic design aand quite a cunning name and spelling!

  115. Lucas -  April 9, 2011 - 12:07 am

    The letter ‘q’ might be adapted from ‘o’, or ‘q’ from ‘p’.

  116. Desihasbangs -  April 8, 2011 - 11:42 pm

    The letter “D” should be investigated! I always thought the sound “D” makes is very interesting… but then again, maybe it wouldn’t be that interesting of a letter. Errr, I agree with a lot of the others: you guys should investigate the letter “Q”.

  117. Abram -  April 8, 2011 - 11:15 pm

    Very interesting, but by taking off the J out of Jesus it will spell Esus. Esus is a God from methodology.

  118. François -  April 8, 2011 - 11:11 pm

    First of all, thanks for this very interesting article!
    Then I would be interested in knowing the rapport between the letters V and U, as apparently in Latin the letter V was representing the sound that U is assigned to today. ex: Senatvs Popvlvs Que Romanvs

  119. Love2Learn -  April 8, 2011 - 10:21 pm

    Q, W, X or Z would be nice. Thank you.

  120. Kelli Glesige -  April 8, 2011 - 9:50 pm

    I would like to know the history of letter X.

  121. a -  April 8, 2011 - 9:22 pm

    letter Q !!
    letter X !!

  122. Pinki -  April 8, 2011 - 8:50 pm

    Cool article!! Dictionary.com seriously is one of the most interesting websites that I’ve used so far.
    Anyways, what I wanna know is why is the letter U always followed after Q? (I’m not sure if this was asked in the above comments; oh well)
    I also wanna learn more about the letter P, since it’s the first letter in my name :D And F and A (my middle and last initials) Actually, I want to learn about all the letters!!! All of them are very fascinating, each with its own unique story.
    P.S. Why is a letter named a letter? Who came up with the name “letter”? I’m very curious!!!
    P.S.S. And who came up with the other kind of letter, the kind that you mail and stuff…..0.o

  123. Al -  April 8, 2011 - 8:41 pm

    I teach English to Japanese students, who bedeviled by /l/ and /r/. While I’ve been able to figure out the origin of their difficulties, I would like to know the origin/relationship of these two letters (I vaguely recall reading the /r/ is more recent).

  124. The Doctor of Trafalgar Law -  April 8, 2011 - 8:13 pm

    The letter “D” is probably the most fantastic letter in the Latin derived languages, as well as the Germanic Languages. Please study its roots down to the mantle.

  125. Amy -  April 8, 2011 - 7:50 pm

    I agree X

  126. theresa -  April 8, 2011 - 7:42 pm

    Oh, @Jennifer check the Scrabble rules booklet -they have a list of “Q without U” words at the bottom of one of the pages. And you guys should investigate the letter Y!!!!! I know I’m a grammar newb, but why is it only sometimes a vowel?

  127. Jumman Surender -  April 8, 2011 - 7:32 pm

    Q must be the next one!!!!! Though very Happy with “J”, very, very special to me :-)

  128. kksledge -  April 8, 2011 - 7:25 pm

    i have two: i want to hear about the letters “F” and “S” .

  129. margret -  April 8, 2011 - 7:10 pm

    that is sooooo intersting =)

  130. Adrian -  April 8, 2011 - 7:02 pm

    The letter Q sounds extremley interesting

  131. Googleyhead -  April 8, 2011 - 6:49 pm

    Thanks, Eyewitness, for that extra bit of info!

  132. bigrob -  April 8, 2011 - 6:13 pm

    the letter z.its not used in very many english words.
    thats all i could think of

  133. Panama -  April 8, 2011 - 6:11 pm

    Q or X. I wouldn’t mind learning about either.

  134. Lizzy -  April 8, 2011 - 6:04 pm

    Q Q Q!!!!!

  135. Oh so Pogi -  April 8, 2011 - 5:40 pm

    oh, and they already tackled W also.

  136. Oh so Pogi -  April 8, 2011 - 5:37 pm

    to those who asked for Q or X, they have already tackled those topics. and X has been tackled twice, if I remember.

    how about A or E or Z? i know they are not hard to find letters, not scrabble high-scoring, but do we really know their history?

    to get the right answer we need to use both stupidity and intelligence. We don’t have to find hard things, but try to know simple things, and know what simple really means. :)

  137. Kuya Jobert -  April 8, 2011 - 5:29 pm

    i love letter J because my name is JOBERT = JAKUL :)

  138. kuya jobert jr. -  April 8, 2011 - 5:27 pm

    you should also try Ñ..

  139. Benjamin -  April 8, 2011 - 5:09 pm

    It always bothers me that Spanish speaking people say Benjamin with the raspy jota sound. As this article mentions, the J sound comes from a Y sound in Biblical Hebrew. The way English people pronounce J doesn’t exist in Hebrew, so it’s obviously very English. But the way Spanish people say it – with a jota – it sounds like Ben-Khamin, which in Hebrew means “Son of a Meat Stew!”

    The correct way of pronouncing it is Ben-yamin, meaning “Son of the right hand” or “Son of the south”!

  140. Dane -  April 8, 2011 - 4:35 pm

    The letter Q! I’m with Jennifer, totally screws up my scrabble game.

  141. Kathleen -  April 8, 2011 - 4:35 pm

    Everyone seems to be agreeing on “Q”

  142. Matt J. -  April 8, 2011 - 4:20 pm

    I want to know about the letter L. Not just any old L, but the funny looking L with the slash through it in Polish; how ARE we supposed to pronounce the logician’s name, ‘Łukasiewicz’?

  143. me -  April 8, 2011 - 4:08 pm

    anyone have something else to say?

  144. me -  April 8, 2011 - 4:07 pm

    well i think that the letter /z/ should be investigated [ again ] because it is the last letter of the alphabet, but i was not added on the alphabet last [ as said above, /j/ was added last]

  145. me -  April 8, 2011 - 4:03 pm

    i’m just a kid but, i think that the letter /z/ should be investigated. It is so zig-zag shaped. i’m just curious. I wonder where it came from. I wonder who made the letter.

  146. Hsojua -  April 8, 2011 - 3:46 pm

    You should investigate the letter X

  147. Dale -  April 8, 2011 - 3:39 pm

    I would like to hear about the letter ‘z’ please.

  148. edward -  April 8, 2011 - 3:30 pm

    what about the letter V

  149. ira -  April 8, 2011 - 3:17 pm


  150. Sebastienne Frogington III -  April 8, 2011 - 3:16 pm

    the lower case y kinda looks like a conjoined i and j…

    Learn me about Q!!!

  151. Eyewitness -  April 8, 2011 - 3:15 pm

    This was simply fascinating.

    To further illuminate (split infinitive, I know) a point made in “today’s lesson,” let me add the following historical note:

    In certain learned, english-speaking parlance, the plosive english language /j/ as in “Jesus” can be found pronounced much as it was in Trissino’s Italian Renaissance day, like the less plosive /jsh/ in “Taj Mahal,” to wit, the famous aria written by Johann Sebastian Bach and transliterated into english by Victorian poet laureate Robert Bridges is entitled, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’ but is to this day properly pronounced J/jsh/esu, J/j/oy of Man’s Desiring.

  152. Peter -  April 8, 2011 - 3:05 pm

    Some backstory on the letter ‘Q’ would be very interesting to read about, it’s a strange letter.

  153. THE_JEDI_MASTER -  April 8, 2011 - 2:51 pm

    To Jennifer: Try qi.

  154. grr -  April 8, 2011 - 2:43 pm

    oh q, nevermind

  155. grr -  April 8, 2011 - 2:43 pm

    J isn’t nearly always followed by a U


  156. Sudo Nim -  April 8, 2011 - 2:01 pm


  157. Ray Robson Roland -  April 8, 2011 - 2:00 pm

    I’d like to get the letter R investigated, my name is full of Rs and I kind of love it.

  158. Linda -  April 8, 2011 - 1:58 pm

    Fascinating article! I think that the letter “Z” (zed/zee), being the last letter in the English alphabet, deserves a bit of attention in the limelight!

  159. Rob -  April 8, 2011 - 1:39 pm

    U or Double U

  160. Drex0131 -  April 8, 2011 - 1:36 pm

    I want to find out about “W” because it should be interesting on how it came about.

  161. Ian -  April 8, 2011 - 1:33 pm

    X – the letter X, because it’s cool.

  162. Christopher -  April 8, 2011 - 1:31 pm

    The lettter X.

  163. Abdel Shilbaya -  April 8, 2011 - 12:44 pm

    Please explain the letter X and it relations to letters such KH and S.

  164. Kumann -  April 8, 2011 - 12:34 pm


  165. Heather -  April 8, 2011 - 12:29 pm

    How about the letter X? It’s so weird.

  166. Frank -  April 8, 2011 - 12:27 pm

    I second (or third or fourth… not sure) Q. Maybe V and W could be explained in one article since they’re closely related.

  167. patro g -  April 8, 2011 - 12:27 pm


  168. Jo -  April 8, 2011 - 12:23 pm

    Q my son’s name is Quinten and we call him Q.

  169. Katrena -  April 8, 2011 - 12:18 pm

    The letter N would be nice

  170. TH -  April 8, 2011 - 12:17 pm

    Do the letter Q! and in fact, contrary to the above comment, QI is a valid scrabble word – perhaps something that could be explored further.

  171. Silver Fang -  April 8, 2011 - 12:16 pm

    How about the letter W and its relationship to the archaic Greek letter digamma?

  172. Alex Damon -  April 8, 2011 - 12:15 pm

    The letter Q or the letter W!

  173. QT -  April 8, 2011 - 12:04 pm

    In the Dutch language, we use the “ij” as one vowel. Written as two separate letters. The pronounciation is similar to the English “y”.

  174. eyesflux -  April 8, 2011 - 12:02 pm

    Would want to regarding the letter “N”

  175. A B -  April 8, 2011 - 11:54 am

    I’d love to learn about the letter Q. (it’s my favorite letter)

  176. Unbelievibly plausable -  April 8, 2011 - 11:47 am

    Q, it looks funny

  177. Marin -  April 8, 2011 - 11:47 am

    I studied Latin for a couple of years and have always been curious about W, particularly since we were taught the Romans pronounced V as we pronounce W. And why double-u and not double-v (both because of the way many people write a W and the way it was purportedly pronounced)?

  178. ranjeet rana -  April 8, 2011 - 11:44 am

    letter R should be investigated.

  179. Jennifer -  April 8, 2011 - 11:25 am

    Q. And why does it (*almost) always have to be followed by a u. Ruins my Scrabble game every time.


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