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Why so much variation in the letter "j"?

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outcast
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 Message 9 of 20
21 August 2012 at 3:05am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
So does Finnish. Indonesian uses it the English way, btw.
Nice to see you refer to the Spanish sound as h. to me the English/Scandinavian/Finnish h is as similar to the German ch/Spanish j/Russian x as much as the Slavic hard and soft consonants are similar to each other. It's variation, not entirely different sounds!!!


They are hard to distinguish, but if you train yourself enough there is a difference. Plus as you probably know, /h/, /x/, and /ç/ are formed in different areas of the oral cavity. I can tell the difference in isolation, but yeah kinda hard in regular speech especially since of course not every time that, even natives, pronounce these sounds will they articulate them exactly in their correct locations.
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Hertz
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 Message 10 of 20
21 August 2012 at 7:19am | IP Logged 
IronFist wrote:
Why is there so much variation?

That's a really good question. I have not formally studied either language, but my understanding is that Latin letters inherit from the Greek. Latin I (as in IVLIVS CAESAR) descends from Greek ι, which we in English call iota (eye-OH-ta).

If you listen to the way a modern Greek pronounces it (and a sample word, ιστὀς) you'll notice it sounds less like eye-OH-ta than like ZHO-ta. Also, though we spell the letter iota they spell it γιώτα, with a gamma leading.

Once Rome fell, or perhaps even before (for they had no way to record sound) it would have been a simple matter for the letter I to fragment into different local dialects of Latin, possibly influenced by whatever was spoken in those areas at the time. I'm only making an educated guess; others more educated than I can correct me or fill in the blanks.

Edit: some people might find this image interesting. I started looking at the development of letters from Phoenician to Latin.

Edited by Hertz on 21 August 2012 at 7:37am

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Serpent
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 Message 11 of 20
21 August 2012 at 10:55am | IP Logged 
outcast wrote:
Serpent wrote:
So does Finnish. Indonesian uses it the English way, btw.
Nice to see you refer to the Spanish sound as h. to me the English/Scandinavian/Finnish h is as similar to the German ch/Spanish j/Russian x as much as the Slavic hard and soft consonants are similar to each other. It's variation, not entirely different sounds!!!


They are hard to distinguish, but if you train yourself enough there is a difference. Plus as you probably know, /h/, /x/, and /ç/ are formed in different areas of the oral cavity. I can tell the difference in isolation, but yeah kinda hard in regular speech especially since of course not every time that, even natives, pronounce these sounds will they articulate them exactly in their correct locations.
I didn't say I'm unable to hear the difference. I said I consider them more similar than many people seem to. Maybe the hard and soft consonants were a bad example because they're known to be difficult - though if you look at the actual topics, the main problem seems to be producing them correctly, not telling them from one another. And I can recognize them pretty easily hehe.
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Josquin
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 Message 12 of 20
21 August 2012 at 1:49pm | IP Logged 
Hertz wrote:
That's a really good question. I have not formally studied either language, but my understanding is that Latin letters inherit from the Greek. Latin I (as in IVLIVS CAESAR) descends from Greek ι, which we in English call iota (eye-OH-ta).

If you listen to the way a modern Greek pronounces it (and a sample word, ιστὀς) you'll notice it sounds less like eye-OH-ta than like ZHO-ta. Also, though we spell the letter iota they spell it γιώτα, with a gamma leading.

This is only partially correct. "Eye-oh-ta" is the English pronunciation of the letter Iota. The Greek pronunciation would have been "ee-oh-ta", which later became "yo-ta".
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tractor
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 Message 13 of 20
21 August 2012 at 5:19pm | IP Logged 
IronFist wrote:
Compare to other letters, which are pretty much always the same.

What makes J so special that it gets pronounced differently in different languages?

It is not special. Many letters are pronounced differently in different languages. It is also quite normal for one letter
to have several pronunciations within a single language. Take the letter a for example. In 'hat' it is [æ], in 'same' it is
[eɪ], in 'woman' it is [ə], in 'father' it is [ɑː], in 'garage' it is [æ] in the first syllable and [ɑː] or [ɪ] in the second, in
'goal' it is part of the diphthong [əʊ], in 'seam' it produces [iː] together with the letter e, in 'all' it is [ɔː] etc. And
that's just in English.
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LaughingChimp
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 Message 14 of 20
22 August 2012 at 9:58am | IP Logged 
You missed one: [ɛ] in "many".
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onurdolar
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 Message 15 of 20
23 August 2012 at 9:13am | IP Logged 
In Turkish J is somewhere between french J and English G ( as in gender ). I find it interesting Italians call it "i lunga" but the sound has nothing to do with i, or does it? I am not sure.
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vonPeterhof
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 Message 16 of 20
23 August 2012 at 2:45pm | IP Logged 
onurdolar wrote:
I find it interesting Italians call it "i lunga" but the sound has nothing to do with i, or does it? I am not sure.
As I said in my previous post, I and J used to be alternative forms of the same letter, just like U and V: in the times of Caesar the name "Julius" was spelled "IVLIVS". Unlike French, Spanish and Portuguese, Italian didn't retain the letter J for native Italian words, while the sound it represented seems to have shifted from [j] (English y) to [dʒ] (English j): Julius -> Giulio.


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