Excerpt from ‘Shapes for Sounds‘ (Timothy Donaldson)
” The popularity of Blackletter created lines of letters that looked so alike they were even described with a weaving term, Textura, (from which we also get the word; text). Therefore, scribes began adding a short dash above the letter to identify it. The dash eventually became a dot, which was originally called a tittle. ”
“J is the youngest letter in the Latin alphabet. The Latin alphabet is about 2,700 years old, but J is only about 300 years old … The practice of elongating the stem of the letter i began for the same reason as that of placing a tittle, or small mark, above the letter – differentiation. This lengthened stroke showed when the letter i was being used as a consonant, originally as a Y sound but gradually firming into a J sound as Latin spread through Europe. Also, when a Latin word ended with a double i as in Filii, a long i (j) would be used to mark the letter pair as different from an n as in Filij… j eventually got the dot from i as well, and was retrospectively given a capital letter.”
I’ve been wondering about this for a while now, the dots don’t really make any sense now, do they?