Jarkko Hietaniemi wrote:
> I think somebody just mentioned that many Italians like "i"
> and "j" to be "equal".
It was me. I mentioned this in a very sketchy and misinformed posting about
the origin of "j" and "u".
Thank you for this opportunity of going back on that topic to add a few
corrections and information (see end of this mail).
Michael Kaplan replied:
> And then of course I would start fighting to get this
> alternate Italian sort into the NLS database, too!
No one expects this nowadays. Most people don't even know about this old
convention, and would find it just odd. Only a minority of people know about
this, but would consider it an improper reminder of the fascist regime, and
its absurd policies to "purify" Italian from "barbarisms" (terms of foreign
The last dictionary published with i=j was the Grande Dizionario
Enciclopedico Treccani published back in the 30's, but still commonly
available today in public libraries. Even at that age, they felt the need to
add a note before chapter "I" to explain their choice. And, if my memory
helps, they also added a void chapter "J" with only a note referring to
<TOTALLY OUT OF TOPIC NOW>
The man who originally proposed "j" and "u" was Gian Giorgio Trýssino dal
Vello d'Oro (b. 1478 Vicenza, d. 1550 Rome)
However, I found on some source that these letters were independently
invented, more or less in the same age, also by other scholars in Spain,
Italy and France.
Trissino's proposal was titled "Epistola del Trissino de le lettere
nuovamente aggiunte ne la lingua italiana" (Letter[=mail] by Trissino about
the newly added letters[=characters] in the Italian language), published in
Vicenza by Tolomeo Janiculo da Bressa in 1529.
The proposal originally included also a few other letters from Greek and
from other sources:
1: "e" U+03B5 for sound [?] U+025B, as opposed to "e" for sound [e] (guess
where IPA symbol ? came from).
2: "?" U+03C9 for sound [?] U+0254, as opposed to "o" for sound [o] (but
Trissino later inverted this convention).
3: "?" U+0283 (or "?" U+017F) for sound [z], as opposed to "s" for sound [s]
(still used on some Italian dictionaries).
4: "?" U+0292 (or "š" U+00E7) for sound [ts], as opposed to "z" for sound
Trissino was a noisy contributor to the "questione della lingua", the great
debate about our language that took place among literati in the 16th
Trissino was a pedantic type, and he was considered an utopist by other
academics participating to the debate. He, however, won a few small
victories. The language was eventually called "Italian", as he proposed;
others suggestions were "Florentine", "Tuscan", "Vulgar", and even
"Castillian" (that would have been a problem with sorting languages on
passports:-). Italian actually would have accepted influence from other
dialects (than Florentine) and from foreign languages. And, finally, the u/v
A few links, now:
http://www.vicenzanews.it/vicenza/stradario/TRISSINO_G.HTM (in Italian)
http://www.hol.gr/cgfa/c/p-catena1.htm (a portrait)
http://www.webcom.com/ilb/mediolanum/cat181.htm (replica of the Epistola)
http://www.heritagebookshop.com/pages/html/nyfair98.html (replicas of other
280590-2361032 (modern edition of all his linguistic works)
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