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. 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…

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

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.”

  5. 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.

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