J or j (pronounced [ jɔt ] in Austria [as ː ] ) is the tenth letter of the Latin alphabet and a consonant. The letter J has in German texts an average frequency of 0.27 %, which is the 24 most frequent letter.

In the development of the Latin alphabet were different than today I and J long used side by side as mere graphic variants of the same character without a phonetic distinction was associated with it. The character itself, however, was partially used for different sounds.


The Phoenician Alphabet Yodh the character to play the semivowel [j ] was used, which can be described both as a palatal approximant as well as unsilbisches [ i]. When the Greeks developed from the Phoenician, the Greek alphabet, they took the sign as Iota for the posting of the vowel [ i].

The Etruscans took over the Greek characters, used it not only to the case of the vowel [i ], but also for the case of homonymous half- vowel [j ] ( as indicated by the symbol V for both the vowel [ u] as well as for the homonymous Halbvokal [ w] used ). The Romans adopted the Etruscan use unchanged.

In late antiquity, developed from the semi-vowel [j ] a voiced affricate [ dʒ ]. From this the various sounds of the modern Romance languages ​​emerged. So corresponds to the Latin [j ] (eg in justus "just" ) in modern Italian one [ dʒ ] ( giusto [ dʒusto ] ), in modern Spanish mostly a [ x] ( justo [ xusto ] ) and in modern French a [ ʒ ] ( juste [ ʒyst ] ).

Although this significant volume differences were fully formed in the early Middle Ages, both sounds were still up in the early modern period written with the same character, which might look sometimes like a J (as majuscule ), sometimes like an I (as minuscule ). The Capitalis the Romans did not know the graphical variant J. At the later uncial the present form of J can be seen with small descender. The consistent distinction of the letters I and J to have been first proposed by French philosopher Pierre de la Ramee in the 16th century.

Used in the German language

The textualization of the German language at the end of the first millennium AD the letter I was used in two ways: On the one hand for playing the unrounded front closed tongue vowel [i ], on the other hand for playing the voiced palatal approximant [ j]. So you took the original Latin double use, although the I in its use as a consonant letter in the former Romance languages ​​now another sound called a [ dʒ ].

" During the Gothic alphabet for the semi- vocal j at 15 put its own sign had created, expressed even the much later Upper and Lower Germany, and Nordic manuscripts, adopted the Latin alphabet, according to its need j by i with from as far as they not g used for this purpose. only since the 15th century läszt the evidence for use of a separate book for the semi- vocal stabs in the beginnings, initially only for the minuscule script. "

Because of the semi-vowel [j ] remained in the German language, the need for a distinction of the consonant letter J from the vowel letters I was less urgent than in other languages. This distinction was therefore only applied in the case of German texts, as they had already been established in other languages. Broken writings distinguish the capitals until 1900 does not distinguish between I and J. While only changed use in the minuscule, reported only after 1900 designed broken typefaces on a distinctive majuscule -J with an extended arc, and a shrink -I majuscule. As far as German texts were set in Roman type, they differed in the 19th century - like today - between I / J and i / j.

To date, there are still older writers who use a J instead of the capital letter I ( eg, Ida, Jtalien ). Even when sans serif faces a big J is set instead of a large I sometimes. One reason for this is that in such writings the big I and the small L are often difficult to distinguish, especially when the two letters next to each other (for example in Jller, Jlmenau, Jllustrierte in contrast to Iller, Ilmenau, Illustrated ).

"Since the Endstrichlosen play such a large role, seems you there and keep them there that I for insufficient and is not uncommon for the inverted J, ie a wrong sound. If I follow the one or two liters, it produced in the Endstrichlosen three naked vertical bars. In a good font but these are not of the same size and strength. At least I is thicker around a track. That must be enough. "

Some foreign words both a valid according to the new German spelling Germanized spelling with J, as well as with I ( eg iodine, instead of iodine) exists. In chemistry, however, the Latin spelling is preferred ( similar to citric acid).

With the exception of proper names and abbreviations ends loudly spelling a word on these letters.

Use in other languages

To distinguish the occurring mainly in proto Greek words phoneme / j / from the vowel / i / is the glyph j under the borrowed from the German name Jot (Greek γιοτ, Giot ) since the 19th century in the linguistic context in connection with the Greek alphabet used. For this reason, Greek and Coptic, this letter has been assigned its own position (U 03 F3) in the Unicode block.

The J has also found in some languages ​​input, which are written with the Cyrillic alphabet ( Serbian, Macedonian ). Again, there are in the Unicode block Cyrillic own positions (U 0408, U 0458 ).

In Italian, the J (i lunga " long i" ) is now used only in proper names. Until the 19th century it was still used for a intervokalisches / j /, and also for indexing two fused lower case I:

  • For example, to singular principio ( " Principles"), the plural of principium principj ( present form but principi ). In contrast to the singular Principe ( " Prince " ) principi plural.