Confounded by a "J"

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DebiHarbuck
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Confounded by a "J"

Postby DebiHarbuck » 19 Feb 2012, 16:39

I am helping my cousin with a branch of her family that is from Lipari. We have encountered a name that is a bit of a puzzle. It appears to be Pajno. We see that "Paino" is not an uncommon name in Lipari, however in this document (and several others) the third character in the name is clearly not like any other "i" in the document. We also found a handful (8 or so) passenger records at the Ellis Island site that are not only indexed as Pajno, but clearly say Pajno on the original manifest. How in the heck did that "j" get there? (I am right, right? There's no "J" in Italian...right?)

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liviomoreno
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Re: Confounded by a "J"

Postby liviomoreno » 19 Feb 2012, 16:58

In Italy there are several surnames and also some given names that have a "J", which is pronounced as an "i", and is called "i lunga"="long i"

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DebiHarbuck
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Re: Confounded by a "J"

Postby DebiHarbuck » 19 Feb 2012, 17:01

Oh, interesting! So would the names Paino and Pajno be pronounced in the same way? And, where does this come from?
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Re: Confounded by a "J"

Postby PippoM » 19 Feb 2012, 22:13

It is not exact that they are pronounced in the same way, yet in practice they are substantially equivalent. The "j" is called "long i" as Livio said, so it has a "dragged" sound with respect to that of "i", almost like a "double" i. In XIX century acts, you may often find a "j" as the last letter in the plural of nouns or adjectives ending in the singular in "io". For instance, "calzolaj" as the plural for "calzolaio". Nowadays, the use is for plural simply in "i".
Giuseppe "Pippo" Moccaldi

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DebiHarbuck
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Re: Confounded by a "J"

Postby DebiHarbuck » 19 Feb 2012, 22:38

Thanks, Pippo!

I am still curious as to the "why" of this. Unless the charts I look at of the Italian alphabet are wrong, how do we end up with a "j" if there's no "j" in the alphabet?
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Re: Confounded by a "J"

Postby msoetinger » 20 Feb 2012, 00:58

I have Handwriting examples in a book and it appears both i and j look the same. It's been very helpful to me in reading documents. I can scan it and email you a copy if you would like. I'd attach it here but I can't figure out how to do that.

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Re: Confounded by a "J"

Postby DebiHarbuck » 20 Feb 2012, 01:46

Thanks for the offer! I am really more interested in the historical-linguistics of it than the handwriting. :)
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Re: Confounded by a "J"

Postby JohnArmellino » 20 Feb 2012, 21:27

Hi Debi - While the letter j does appear in Italian dictionaries for archaic spellings and foreign and international terms officially adopted in Italian, historically it's not a j at all but, as Livio points out, a long i. The letter "long i" (or "i lunga") was used in triphthongs or when the letter i was combined with other vowels to form one sound. (e.g., proietto/projetto or gioiello/giojello or Boiano/Bojano). This sound is similar to the y in yellow or lawyer. It was the sound that determined when the long i was used.
John Armellino


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