JJ or j is the tenth letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its usual name in English is jay (pronounced ), with a now-uncommon variant jy . When used in the International Phonetic Alphabet for the y sound, it may be called yod (pronounced or ).
HistoryThe letter J was used as the swash letter I, used for the letter at the end of Roman numerals when following another , as in or instead of or for the Roman numeral representing 23. A distinctive usage emerged in Middle High German. 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. Originally, 'I' and 'J' were different shapes for the same letter, both equally representing , , and ; but, Romance languages developed new sounds (from former and ) that came to be represented as 'I' and 'J'; therefore, English J, acquired from the French J, has a sound value quite different from (which represents the initial sound in the English language word "yet").
Use in writing systems
EnglishIn English, most commonly represents the affricate . In Old English, the phoneme was represented orthographically with and . Under the influence of Old French, which had a similar phoneme deriving from Latin , English scribes began to use (later ) to represent word-initial in Old English (for example, iest and, later jest), while using elsewhere (for example, hedge). Later, many other uses of (later ) were added in loanwords from French and other languages (e.g. adjoin, junta). The first English language book to make a clear distinction between and was published in 1633. In loan words such as raj, may represent . In some of these, including raj, Azerbaijan, Taj Mahal, and Beijing, the regular pronunciation is actually closer to the native pronunciation, making the use of an instance of a hyperforeignism. Occasionally, represents the original sound, as in Hallelujah and fjord (see Yodh for details). In words of Spanish origin, where represents the voiceless velar fricative (such as jalapeño), English speakers usually approximate with the voiceless glottal fricative .
In English, is the fourth least frequently used letter in words, being more frequent only than , , and . It is, however, quite common in proper nouns, especially personal names.
Germanic and Eastern-European languages
The great majority of Germanic languages, such as German, Dutch, Icelandic, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian, use for the palatal approximant , which is usually represented by the letter in English. Notable exceptions are English, Scots and (to a lesser degree) Luxembourgish. also represents 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 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.
Romance languagesIn the Romance languages, 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 (like in English measure). In Spanish, by contrast, it has been both devoiced and backed from an earlier to a present-day ~ , with the actual phonetic realization depending on the speaker's dialect/s.
In modern standard Italian spelling, only Latin words, proper nouns (such as Jesi, Letojanni, Juventus etc.) or those borrowed from foreign languages have . Until the 19th century, was used instead of in diphthongs, as a replacement for final -ii, and in vowel groups (as in Savoja); this rule was quite strict for official writing. is also used to render in dialect, e.g. Romanesco dialect (garlic; cf. Italian aglio ). The Italian novelist Luigi Pirandello used in vowel groups in his works written in Italian; he also wrote in his native Sicilian language, which still uses the letter to represent (and sometimes also [dʒ] or [gj], depending on its environment). The Maltese language is not a Romance language but has been deeply influenced by them (especially Sicilian) and it uses for the sound /j/ (cognate of the Semitic yod).
BasqueIn Basque, the diaphoneme represented by has a variety of realizations according to the regional dialect: (the last one is typical of Gipuzkoa).
Non-European languagesAmong non-European languages that have adopted the Latin script, stands for in Turkish and Azerbaijani, for in Tatar. stands for in Indonesian, Somali, Malay, Igbo, Shona, Oromo, Turkmen, and Zulu. It represents a voiced palatal plosive in Konkani, Yoruba, and Swahili. In Kiowa, stands for a voiceless alveolar plosive, .
stands for in the romanization systems of most of the Languages of India such as Hindi and Telugu and stands for in the Romanization of Japanese.
For Chinese languages, stands for in Mandarin Chinese Pinyin system, the unaspirated equivalent of (). In Wade–Giles, stands for Mandarin Chinese . Pe̍h-ōe-jī of Hokkien and Tâi-lô for Taiwanese Hokkien, stands for and , or and , pending on accents. In Jyutping for Cantonese, stands for .
The Royal Thai General System of Transcription does not use the letter , although it is used in some proper names and non-standard transcriptions to represent either จ or ช (the latter following Pali/Sanskrit root equivalents).
In romanized Pashto, represents ځ, pronounced .
In the Qaniujaaqpait spelling of the Inuktitut language, is used to transcribe .
Computing codes: 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).
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 in the context of Greek script. It is called "Yot" in the Unicode standard, after the German name of the letter J. 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.