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GALLERY: J

In English, ⟨j⟩ most commonly represents the affricate /dʒ/. In Old English, the phoneme /dʒ/ was represented orthographically with ⟨cg⟩ and ⟨cȝ⟩. Under the influence of Old French, which had a similar phoneme deriving from Latin /j/, English scribes began to use ⟨i⟩ (later ⟨j⟩) to represent word-initial /dʒ/ in Old English (for example, iest and, later jest), while using ⟨dg⟩ elsewhere (for example, hedge). Later, many other uses of ⟨i⟩ (later ⟨j⟩) were added in loanwords from French and other languages (e. g. adjoin, junta). The first English language book to make a clear distinction between ⟨i⟩ and ⟨j⟩ was published in 1633. In loan words such as raj, ⟨j⟩ may represent /ʒ/. In some of these, including raj, Azerbaijan, Taj Mahal, and Beijing, the regular pronunciation /dʒ/ is actually closer to the native pronunciation, making the use of /ʒ/ an instance of a hyperforeignism. Occasionally, ⟨j⟩ represents the original /j/ sound, as in Hallelujah and fjord (see Yodh for details). In words of Spanish origin, where ⟨j⟩ represents the voiceless velar fricative [x] (such as jalapeño), English speakers usually approximate with the voiceless glottal fricative /h/.

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