Roman Numerial 4 and Jupiter?

If you look carefully at clocks with Roman numerals, you will find that some clocks use IIII instead of IV for the Roman numeral “4”. One explanation offered online is that (a) IIII can be shown by historians to be older than IV appearing on older artifacts, and (b) “IV” in Latin really is “JU” which was seen as being blasphemous.

It is well known that “V” is “U”, but is it correct that “I” had a “J” sound?

  • Jinx, or maybe that shoud be Ijnx?

P.S. FYI: It is also suggested that “IV” (a) is hard to decipher from “VI” due to its position on the clock and cna eb misread at a glance, and “IIII” keeps symmetry with 4 “I” numbers, 4 “V” numbers, and 4 “X” numbers.

Here’s a what Cecil says:

Um, what?

Latin didn’t have the letters U or J. V could be either a consonant or vowel, pronounced in Classical times as /u/, like the “oo” in “too”, or like an English /w/. The change that made Latin V sound like an English /v/ happened after the end of the Classical period. Similarly, I was used as both a consonant and a vowel. As a vowel, it sounded like /i/, like the “ee” in “meet”. As a consonant, it sounded like an English /y/ as in “year”. It wasn’t until the middle ages that people invented J and began to frequently spell Latin words with J in place of consonantal I.

Like** Excalibre** said, Romans didn’t have a “j” sound in their soundkit, the closest you could get to your name would be “Iinx”, I guess, but you’d pronounce it “Yinx” rather than “Jinx”. So, for instance, it’s “Yulius Kaesar” (also a hard “C”, like “Celeborn”, but I digress). It’s the same sound as for “J” in Afrikaans, interestingly enough. MAde school Latin a little bit easier.

I’m sure the “JU” being blasphemous is a made-up thing, though. We know the Romans did use IV, even if it took the stonecutters a while to realise they could save 1 chisel stroke that way. But more importantly, why would clockmakers care what the Romans considered blasphemous? It’s not like the Romans had clocks - unless the tradition continued directly from sundial faces, of course.

The symmetry idea sounds nice, but not convinced. And my fobwatch has “IIII”, BTW. just as a datum point.

I & J were considered as variants of the same letter as late as the 18th century. Same with U & V. Furthermore, it wasn’t until about 1800 that it was established for certain that I and U were vowels, and J and V were consonants. Early modern texts often contain spellings like “vniuersity”. And Dr Samuel Johnson, in his dictionary, ran I and J words into a single alphabetical sequence (so that “jam” came before “iambic”.

Are you calling the Bard a liar?:wink:

Julius Caesar

interestingly enough, in Afrikaans, the word for “bell” is “klok”, whereas the word for a clock, “horlosie”, seems to realate more to “hours”. I’m thinking it must be the same in German, with “glockenspiel”. It wouldn’t surprise me if the etymology of English “clock” came from a word meaning “bell”.

Well, since “cloche” is French, and what with the whole Norman Conquest thing, I shouldn’t be surprised.