Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Y is for...

IJ

I used to live on Sicily in 1991. A lifetime ago. I worked for Club Med and spoke a lot of French. Oh, and I bought a lot of photos by the resident photographer. Now, I had already changed my first name to Mara, leaving the j out, but my last name started with that very letter: j!* So, very soon problems arose. Because the Italians (at least at that time) didn't know the letter j. Well, they knew about it vaguely, but there are no Italian words at all that use the letter j. Or the y and w for that matter. Pretty soon we had struck a deal though: the j would be pronounced i-longua (long i).

So, what does this have to with anything. Well, we do use the j, the y and the w, but we also use the ij as a letter. It has the same place as the y in our alphabet (which is called the grecian ij by the way). Sometimes considered as one and sometimes considered as two letters. When it's at the beginning of a word, it's one letter and both letters should be capitalized. The same with names of towns, rivers or lakes.**

Of course that leaves the question of how it should be pronounced. Quite easy: the same way you would pronounce the 'ei'-sound (like Apartheid). Which proves to be quite difficult for children, do I spell a word with the short ei or the long ij, since there are not really any set rules about them (unless Pepperfly knows better).

For more Y-words from around the world, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

*The letter j in Dutch is pronounced as the letter y in yellow, hence the change of my first name.
**Even though Flemish and Dutch are basically the same, there is a difference in the use of the letter ij. They will only capitalise the first letter, so where we would spell the River IJzer, they spell it Ijzer, even though the sound stays the same.

29 comments:

  1. How many languages do you speak?

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  2. I have no problem seeing your problem, so to speak, since we have three more letters in our alphabet: æ (Æ), ø (Ø), and å (Å).

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  3. No, Pepperfly doesn't know better (this time)... ;-)

    Learning the Dutch language sometimes has quite little to do with logics, or understandable rules. (Or, maybe I haven't learned those rules yet. Ouch.)

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  4. Y, I did not know that!

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

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  5. Whew, complicated but quite interesting. Thanks for the information.

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  6. Ja, onze taal is niet zo simpel! Bedankt voor je comment! Die kleine jongetjes speelden al heel aardig op hun didgeridoos. Ze hebben precies de juiste houding en blaastechniek. Op de didgeridoo worden geen melodiën gespeeld, maar geluiden van dieren nagebootst, zoals het blaffen van dingoes en gegrom van goannas.

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  7. I've always wondered why people talk about something "sounding double-dutch" - now I think I have an idea.

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  8. Very interesting - I have always wondered about the second letter in Njimegan.

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  9. I love languages and loved your post for Y!!

    ABC Wed: Y

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  10. I have a friend who just gave her new baby girl the second name of Marija...I didn't know how to pronounce it but now I know! Thanks so much.

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  11. WOW! What an interesting language lesson! It's amazing to me how others learn to adapt/adopt languages that are so different from their own.

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  12. Languages are so interesting. I find it fascinating how some people pick them up so quickly.

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  13. This is very useful information - thanks! Oh, and I like your header!

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  14. Wow. You are so well traveled and learned. Amazing : )
    I love your new blog header. You are pretty and you have the best smile!

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  15. I'm still dazed and confused. Let's put it down to heat stroke. Can you just give us the whole name phonetically?

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  16. No wonder I don't speak Dutch! What a fascinating tale...

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  17. OH my head is spinning and it's not from the vertigo.I love languages but it is late at night and I have brain fog! It sounds like you explained it all very clearly, so good for you. Next time I'll try harder -- or wait until I'm feeling a little more clear-headed.

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  18. I understood this better than I understand my word verification!

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  19. I am sure you have many stories from your time spent with Club Med! Would love to hear some!

    Thanks for contributing.
    Denise - on behalf of ABC Team

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  20. I think I understood what you were saying Mara. Interesting any way. A

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  21. Fascinating language. I have mentioned Ijmuiden in a past ABC, if I do it again I now know(think) it should be IJmuiden.
    Serendipity and thanks for your comment over on a raft of apples.

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  22. Haha, now you have to explain to Hildred and Charles how to pronounce Njimegan. I'm guessing they meant Nijmegen. Hm, and how to explain to a foreign person how to pronounce g or ch and when to use what (if there is a logical rule for that. Probably not.)

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  23. Well, that was interesting! There is someone I know on a forum whose name is Marijke, but she spells it Mareyeka for our benefit, since most of us do not speak Dutch.

    I knew about the missing letters in the Italian alphabet because I'm learning Italian right now, but of course, I didn't know you lived in Sicily at one time! So do you speak fluent Italian?

    You are talented in languages, it seems!

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  24. I was 2 months in Sicily in 1965, that was an adventure I tell you ! I had to go out with "body guards" because I was so tall and blond and they had never seen such a creature especially in small towns !

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  25. Great blog & funny writing! You made me smile. Newest follower!
    Have a wonderful weekend!
    Hugs,
    Coreen

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  26. Well I'm confused and it doesn't take much to confuse me! Look at all your comments, you go girl!

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Any weighty (and not so weighty) comments are welcome!