Did you hear the one about the guy who missed only one answer on his alphabet test?
Yeah, he didn’t know Y.
My first job was working at a public library, where I put all the books back in their assigned spots.
I got good at alphabetizing, to the point that many years later I get a little worked up if I see books out of order, even on my shelves at home.
Imagine how I felt when I learned the other day that the English alphabet itself did not come together in ABC order!
I guess it shouldn’t surprise me, since the English language pulls from so many different sources and other languages.
The very last letter to enter the alphabet was not Z but J.
For a long time J was just a fancy way to write the letter I; the technical term here is “swash.”
J didn’t become its own letter until the year 1524, when a playwright and grammarian called Gian Giorgio Trissino wrote a paper arguing that I and J should be recognized as separate entities.
I would be used for vowel sounds, like in “igloo,” while J would be a consonant, though at first it was probably a smoother sound like the one in “Taj Mahal” than the “j” sound in words like “judge,” “jam” and “Gian Giorgio Trissino.”
It took a century or so to really catch on; people were probably being judicious, not jaded.
And today we have J words of all kinds, some jocular, some jarring, some jaunty, and a few jittery.
And if knowing where it all started doesn’t make you a bit jubilant today, I don’t know what will.
If you miss the beach these days, maybe this will help: Andoni Bastarrika is a Basque artist who works with sand, but we’re not talking about sand castles here.
He produces ornate and extremely realistic looking animal sculptures out of sand, including a famous sculpture of a sand-colored bull.
If you didn’t know what it really was, you’d think it was a giant animal just chilling out on the beach.
Do You Know the Last Letter Added to the Alphabet? (It Wasn’t Z) (Readers Digest)
Meet The Man Responsible For The Letter “J” (Dictionary.com)
Self-Taught Artist Creates Stunningly Realistic Sand Sculptures (Oddity Central)
Letter J photo by Kristina Alexanderson via Flickr/Creative Commons