J

J

I grew a tail.
J’ai fait pousser une queue.


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I am writing a poem for each of the 26 letters of the English alphabet, for #NaPoWriMo2018. The poems are a sequence and you can read each of the preceding letters on these links:

A B C D E F G H I

'J' is a junior member of our alphabet, having been until a few hundred years ago the same letter as 'I'. Its distinction from its manxome* progenitor is attributable to an individual, Gian Giorgio Trissino (a man with 5 letter 'i's and 3 'j' sounds in his name, but no 'j's), as in this dictionary.com article - it was over a hundred years later, after the publication of the King James bible, that the letters became distinct in English. Until then 'J' or 'j' were just different ways of writing 'I' or 'i'.

Thanks to Dylann Knight for helping me not screw up the line in French here, especially since that's half the poem.


*I wrote this on the assumption that it was generally agreed that the term 'manxome' in Jabberwocky meant being without a tail, as in a Manx cat. On searching for a link to make this point clear to those who might not know the word, I find not only that no such link is readily available; but that 'manxome' is much more widely perceived as meaning 'fearsome' and to be a portmanteau of 'manly' and 'buxom'... or possibly to indicate that the creature had three legs, as per the Manx triskelion. Indeed, in John Tenniel's original illustration, the Jabberwock's tail is apparently being used as a third leg, giving precisely the opposite meaning of 'manxome' than I intend here. Oh well - I mean tail-less. Only after writing all that does it occur to me that Jabberwock is a truly frabjous 'J'-word.

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