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Old 04-29-2005, 03:55 PM
Jim B. Jim B. is offline
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What is the Dot Over the 'I' and 'J' For?

It is called a tittle, according to an email I once received. And it is over both the "I" and "J" probably because they once were the same letter, I assume. And that is about all I know.

I recall reading once a long time ago that uppercase letters were once all we had. Then some monk or someone in the middle ages developed our lowercase letters, but I'm not sure how or from what.

Could someone tell me what exactly is the dot over the lowercase "I" and "J" for? Or at the very least, could someone tell me where it came from?

Thank you in advance for your help
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Old 04-29-2005, 04:20 PM
tim314 tim314 is offline
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tittle
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Old 04-29-2005, 04:23 PM
tim314 tim314 is offline
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So the short answer seems to be that because an i is just one line, it's easy to mistake it for part of an adjacent letter. E.g., confusing "in" for "m". Hence, the tittle, to make the i stand out more.
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Old 04-29-2005, 07:59 PM
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RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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Medieval lettering was generally made up of specific downstrokes and upstrokes, something like the slash and backslash. Spaces weren't used between letters. Thus, the word "minum" would be done as follows:

\\\\\\//\\\

The "MIN" thus is six downstrokes. It also looks exactly like "NIM." So to tell the difference, scribes put a dot above the I.

\\\i\\//\\\

The dot makes the word clear (It's easier to see in actual script than on a computer, of course).

When "j" was added to the language (it is the newest letter in the alphabet), it was added just after i, and was based on the i, so it kept the dot.
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Old 04-29-2005, 08:17 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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Now that we've got "tittle" all thrashed out - what's a "jot"?
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Old 04-29-2005, 08:24 PM
jasonh300 jasonh300 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Piper
Now that we've got "tittle" all thrashed out - what's a "jot"?
Wasn't Jot a short cartoon that came on Saturday mornings back in the 70s with some kind of moral or religious message? (Mormon maybe?)
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Old 04-29-2005, 08:25 PM
Mr. Blue Sky Mr. Blue Sky is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Piper
Now that we've got "tittle" all thrashed out - what's a "jot"?
Jot
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Old 04-29-2005, 08:42 PM
jasonh300 jasonh300 is offline
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Originally Posted by Mr. Blue Sky
Hey there, Mr. Blue....

Thanks for the link. I've never seen that site before....looks like I'll be sitting here for a while now.
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Old 04-29-2005, 09:30 PM
Mr. Blue Sky Mr. Blue Sky is offline
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Originally Posted by jasonh300
Hey there, Mr. Blue....

Thanks for the link. I've never seen that site before....looks like I'll be sitting here for a while now.
I remember watching those shorts as a kid and getting creeped out.
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Old 04-30-2005, 07:06 AM
Peter Morris Peter Morris is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Piper
Now that we've got "tittle" all thrashed out - what's a "jot"?
I thought it was the cross bar on the letter t, but I can't find a cite for that.
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Old 04-30-2005, 07:53 AM
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Johanna Johanna is offline
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"Jot" and "tittle" refers to Hebrew and Aramaic writing. Jot comes from the letter name yod, which is the smallest letter. It's only a small mark compared to the other letters. "Tittle" in Hebrew and Aramaic writing, IIRC, is the tiny serif sticking up from the top of the letter. You know how Hebrew square writing has a horizontal top line? The tittle would be that little serif that begins or ends the pen stroke and points up from the top line. There's also a tittle at the lower right corner of the letter bet, which is the only way to tell it apart from the letter kaf.

Is anyone tittering?
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Old 04-30-2005, 08:07 AM
Eurograff Eurograff is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Piper
Now that we've got "tittle" all thrashed out - what's a "jot"?
Jot comes from Greek iota. Note that when "jot" is used to denote character "j", it's pronounced as how you would say "yot" in English. This is because in Latin, from which the difference originates, and in most languages in Europe, letters i and j sound very similar, as ii and jii, and jot sort of underlines the fact that they are, indeed, two different letters. I understand that French language at some point changed the letter j to sound like dz and this, like other pronunciation weirdnesses, then migrated to English. Thus German words "Ja" and "Jahre" have English equivalents "Yes" and "Year", as y has to be used in the place of j. See German alphabet for more. Other languages influenced by German at some point, like Estonian, can also use the jot.
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Old 04-30-2005, 08:12 AM
Eurograff Eurograff is offline
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Quote:
Jot comes from Greek iota.
Which of course has it's origins in Middle East, and at least partly in Semitic yod, as Johanna stated.
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Old 04-30-2005, 11:55 AM
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Johanna Johanna is offline
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It's my initial in Hebrew, I better know it! My name spelled in Hebrew is yod-vav-het-nun-heh.
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Old 04-30-2005, 12:35 PM
Otto Otto is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck
Medieval lettering was generally made up of specific downstrokes and upstrokes, something like the slash and backslash. Spaces weren't used between letters. Thus, the word "minum" would be done as follows:

\\\\\\//\\\.
So leetspeak is really a throwback to the Dark Ages?
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Old 04-30-2005, 04:22 PM
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Johanna Johanna is offline
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If you could consider the Carolingian mini-renaissance the "Dark Ages." It was a little burst of literacy in the 9th century, when the book hands were developed. The credit traditionally goes to an English monk named Alcuin who was hired by Charlemagne as something like the Minister of Literacy.
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Old 04-30-2005, 04:26 PM
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By "book hands" I mean the type of script they used that was supposed to be both easily writable and legible. Such scripts included the rounded uncials that developed into our modern lower-case letters. It seems the Roman alphabet was all uppercase until Alcuin's time. If I'm not mistaken, I think the comparable Greek lowercase script was being developed in Byzantium around that time, or was it earlier? I wonder if knowledge of Byzantine script might have inspired Alcuin.
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