Dictionary.com

While many languages, such as Arabic and Hebrew, add specific accents to the letters or characters throughout their alphabet – the English alphabet has only two letters that include a diacritic dot. This a mark added to a letter that is meant to signal a change in either the sound or meaning of a character. What is the additional name of this curious dot that hovers over the ninth and tenth lowercase letters of the English alphabet, and how did it get there?

The small distinguishing mark you see over a lowercase /i/ and a lowercase /j/ is called a tittle – an interesting name that seems like a portmanteau (combination) of “tiny” and “little,” and refers to a small point or stroke in writing and printing. Generally, a diacritic dot such as a tittle is also referred to as a glyph. However, in regards to /i/ and /j/ – the removal of the mark is still likely to be read as /I/ or /J/; as such, these are not examples of a glyph.

Derived from the Latin word “titulus,” meaning “inscription, heading,” the tittle initially appeared in Latin manuscripts beginning in the 11th century as a way of individualizing the neighboring letters /i/ and /j/ in the thicket of handwriting. With the introduction of the Roman-style typeface in the late 1400’s, the original large mark was reduced to the small dot we use today.

Many alphabets use a tittle specifically in the case of the letter /i/. For example, the absence or presence of a tittle over the /i/ in the modern Turkish alphabet, also Latin-based, helps to differentiate two unique letters that represent distinct phonemes.

The inclusion of a tittle over the capital /I/ represents the “close front unrounded vowel” sound while the absence of a tittle over the lowercase /i/ represents a “close back unrounded vowel” sound.

The phrase “To a T” is believed to be derived from the word tittle and the following passage from Edward Hall’s Chronicles circa 1548:

“I then… began to dispute with my selfe, little considerynge that thus my earnest was turned euen to a tittyl not so good as, estamen.”

Now that you’ve satisfied your desire to know the source of that little dot, consider this: Why does the letter Q almost never appear without a U right next to it? Find your answer, here.

What other mysteries of the alphabet would like us to explore? Let us know.

DANGEROUS DOWNLOADS: BE WARY OF PEER-TO-PEER PROGRAMS.

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by Capt. Carlos De Dios 341st Missile Wing Staff Judge Advocate Office Nothing in life is free. With the power of the Internet and peer-to-peer computer programs, many would disagree. here programs like limewire

Peer-to-peer programs like LimeWire, BitTorrent, and the infamous Napster have been around for many years. Users can type in their favorite song, movie, or picture and instantly download a “free” computer file copy from another person using that same program.

Worse yet, inadvertent downloads may place a user in danger of becoming a registered sex offender. For example, a user can enter a search term or terms and direct his peer-to-peer software to download all files that are found. Unknown to the user, such files may contain child pornography and this could result in the user being investigated for engaging in very serious criminal activity.

If you elect to use peer-to-peer programs, you should be aware these programs may give strangers using the same program access to your computer. Some programs use the “my documents” folder on a computer to share your information with the rest of the world. Computer hackers use this access to steal personal information and spread computer viruses to unsuspecting users. in our site programs like limewire

To prevent being suspected of criminal activity and to protect your personal information, it is critical that you act very carefully when using peer-to-peer programs. In fact, it may be wise to uninstall such programs from your computers to ensure users of your computers don’t engage in unwise activities.

If you have any questions regarding the potential legal pitfalls of peer-to-peer software, call the legal office at 731-2878.

69 Comments

  1. jetsonpaul -  February 20, 2014 - 10:27 pm

    Seen this? FavoriteWords.com – Totally genius!

    Reply
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  3. sudhir kumar -  September 5, 2013 - 8:20 am

    THANKS A LOT FOR THIS LITTLE i. ARTICLE

    Reply
  4. ravindra Paitl -  September 4, 2013 - 8:28 pm

    This is very interesting ……. Thanks for giving information like this…!!!

    Reply
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  6. Fun Facts: Tittle! | The Pond -  December 4, 2012 - 1:52 am

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  7. VIVIAN -  June 26, 2012 - 4:05 am

    I DONT UNDERTAND EVERYTHING

    Reply
  8. VIVIAN -  June 26, 2012 - 4:03 am

    K.DOT
    THANKS FOR THIS ARTICLE

    Reply
  9. UFC 147 live -  June 18, 2012 - 2:02 am

    Fantastic site you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any
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    I’d really like to be a part of online community where I can get comments from other experienced people that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Thanks!

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  10. Brian -  February 1, 2012 - 6:27 am

    Cyberquill could not think of a word with a triple tittle, how about Beijing.

    Reply
  11. MADHAV RAMIREDDY -  January 1, 2012 - 1:55 am

    EXCELLENT FEATURE. PLEASE CONTINUE.

    Reply
  12. Valérie -  April 10, 2011 - 9:01 am

    While this article helps me understand /i/ and /j/ typographically, I wonder about their differentiated pronunciation–especially with dramatic shifts from French and English to the “jota” of Spanish and its absence in Italian…

    Many thanks!

    Reply
  13. Squay -  April 9, 2011 - 2:06 am

    Most interesting. I love little tidbits like this.

    Visited all of the links provided. Interesting about portemanteau (French for “to carry” + “sleeveless cloak”) and its association with Lewis Carrol’s Jabberwocky. “Squay” is a portemanteau for “squared away”, a nickname I was given from fellow Marines while in Paris.

    I, already, have difficulty getting away from my computer due to Wikipedia’s links. Now, I can get lost in Dictionary.com’s links as well. Jeesh!

    Reply
  14. Pinki -  April 8, 2011 - 9:21 pm

    Cool, I’ve never thought of those little dots and stuff! :)

    Reply
  15. Dawn -  April 8, 2011 - 6:09 pm

    This is soo informative, thanks for telling this

    Reply
  16. anon-i -  March 9, 2011 - 1:00 am

    Still don’t get it. Must be needing sleep, after 48 hours of work.
    Anyone care to add “in other words” to summarize this tldr article?

    Reply
  17. Pamela -  March 8, 2011 - 8:04 pm

    So, let me ask this question, then? If, after talking about the importance of the tittle on the “i” and how it serves to differentiate the “l” from the “i,” why are so many posters not capitalizing the “i” when necessary? Writing in all lower case letters is as egregious as using all capitals (which is screaming on the Internet). I would have hoped that here at a grammar site, I would have seen “I like this…,” rather than “i like this.” And, an occasional apostrophe — used correctly! — would also be nice to see; for a change.

    Reply
  18. I'M KEWL YOUR NOT -  March 8, 2011 - 7:30 pm

    WAIT THATS SO WEIRD I NEVER KNEW THAT DOT EVER HAD A NAME

    Reply
  19. emily -  March 8, 2011 - 7:28 pm

    nice okkkkkk um i’ll keep that in mind……………

    Reply
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