Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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J, letter of the alphabet. The tenth letter of the alphabet, called in Sc. [dʒɑe] (Bnff. 1838 Ellis E.E.P. V. 777; Sc. 1901 N.E.D. s.v. J), and written variously as jye (Kcb. 1897 Crockett Lad's Love xvi.), ji (Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 133).

1. In value and origin j in Sc. is mainly identical with the Eng. letter, viz. [dʒ], arising from Romance j or g palatalised before a front vowel and freq. alternating with g in spelling, e.g. geal, Jeel; gee, Jee; gimp, Jimp. [dʒ] is unvoiced to [tʃ] regularly in I.Sc. and Cai. (Cai. 1891 D. Stephen Gleanings 152 and see P.L.D. § 158), and it should be noted that all phonetics of words containing j should be modified accordingly. The same change is found sporadically elsewhere in certain words, so as to produce doublets, e.g. Chack, v.2, Jauk, v.2; Chad, Jad; chaff, Jaff; Channer, Janner; check, Jeck; Chirk, Jirg; Chirt, Jirt; chunk, Junk, and is gen. in Cabbitch, Parritch.

2. Some I.Sc. writers, under the influence of Norse spelling and the orthography adopted by Jakobsen, regularly use j to represent the semi-vowel y [j], esp. as a mark of the palatalisation of consonants, which is a feature of I.Sc. speech; hence jagger, jøl, Gjöd, gjüd, kjaebin (cabin), kjist, njuggle, sjurmal, skjimp, spjölk, yjuder, etc. As this value of j is not found in the Sc. alphabet, some alternative spelling, as with y, has as far as possible been adopted in this dictionary (see Gj-, Hj-, Kj-, etc., and cross-references there and under J-).

3. j [dʒ] develops also in some words, esp. in Sh. and ne.Sc., out of initial d palatalised, i.e. dy- [dj], as in Jafs, Jauchle, Jemair, jing (see P.L.D. § 141.3), s.v. Dyang, Jole, Jouk, Jund (see notes s.v.).

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"J ". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Oct 2018 <>



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