Mystery of ‘J’and ‘Y’ in literature!


Written by London swaminathan

Article No 1697; Dated 7th march 2015

London Time 14-08

The history of letter ‘J’ is mysterious. It is also very confusing. If you read the history of this letter in encyclopaedias you can see how confused the linguists are. They have used all the terms in linguistics that are available to describe the letters: vowel, consonant, fricative, post alveolar fricative, palatal approximant, voiced, voiceless alveolar plosive, diphthong, pronunciation shift etc. They have linked various languages such as Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic and Romance languages. These languages belonged to different families, not at all related! In short they are confused and they would confuse you!

Strange Facts: Most famous Samuel Johnson’s English dictionary (1775) had only 24 letters! No J, No V! Later dictionaries such as Webster only used 26 letters! Then the English were forced to use 26 letters. Samuel used the letters J and V in the spelling of words, J for y or I;  V was used for u.


Ancient Latin had no sound ‘J’, hence no letter for it. Ancient Romans of 100 CE had 23 letters only; no J, no V and no  W!

–from the book The Alphabet by David Sacks

Look at the following words; which is correct?

Yesu = Jesus

Yuda/Yehudim = Jew

Yasmin = Jasmin

Yulius = Julius

Yusuf = Joseph

Yitro = Jethro (crescent)

Yatra = Jatra


Yama = Jama

Yava = Java ( Savakam in Tamil)

aYan = aJan ( AJAN means Brahma;Than+Mal+ Ayan;Suchindram)

vYira = vaJra (Porunthal Inscription)

gaYamukasura = gaJamukasura

RamaDan = RamJan = RamaLan (D=J=L)



Nowhere in the encyclopaedia had they mentioned Tamil and Sanskrit, two ancient languages. My research shows that their theories are wrong. Since they don’t know Tamil and Sanskrit, they have come to wrong conclusions. Those who study Tamil and Sanskrit and compare them with other languages will rewrite linguistic theories.

Letter ‘J’ is used as ‘Y’ in many languages now. The origin of this change lies in Tamil and Sanskrit literature.

Oldest Sanskrit Inscription in India!

Sometime ago a fifth century BCE inscription was discovered at Porunthal near Palani in Tamil Nadu. It has a Brahmi inscription with the Sanskrit word “Vayira”. This is a Sanskrit word used for diamond = VaJra. Here also we see the J=Y change. Tolkappiam , the oldest Tamil book gives the rules for borrowing Sanskrit words. So this vaJra is a Sanskrit word borrowed and changed to vaYira. If the dating of this inscription ( Fifth Century BCE) is correct, then  we see the change in the oldest inscription in Tamil Nadu. When the archaeologists sent the paddy found in the place it was dated 490 BCE by American laboratories.

Sanskrit word Vayira is used in Sangam Tamil literature in many verses. Poet Markandeya used it in Purananuru verse 365. The verse is full of stories from Sanskrit scriptures. Rig Vedic Purusha sukta descrition of the universe, Kalidasa’s story of cursing Bhumadevi to be a spinster for ever, Bhumi being the wife of Hindu kings, Vajra Suci (Diamond needle) etc are found in the verse. Sangam poet name is also in Sanskrit!

language problem

Now we know how Yeshu changed to Jesus and Yusuf changed to Joseph. It happened even before Latin literature appeared in the world in 3rd century BCE.

Yama is a unit of time; one fourth of the day. It is written as Jama. Vajra (vayira) and Yama (jama) are found in ancient Tamil literature. Tamil and Latin have contemporary literature. Even without the Palani Brahmi inscription, we can prove that J=Y from Tamil and Sanskrit literature.

The conclusion is that there is no truth in the explanations given in encyclopaedias for many pages about “spelling shift or pronunciation shift” Y=I=J. It is all happened in ancient India. Since Tamils and Sanskrit speakers spread to different parts of the world they took it with them. We can trace back most of the ancient words to Tamil and Sanskrit. I already gave the example Number ‘One’ and ‘Eight’ in English are from Tamil (Ondru, Ettu) where as other English numbers are from Sanskrit. We can see it English numbers from 21, 31, 41 etc. They are done in the Tamil way: twenty + one, thirty+one (in Tamil irupaththu ondru, muppathu ondru etc). The English numbers before twenty are done as in Sanskrit: 3+10= thirteen, 4+ten= Fourteen, Five+ Ten = Fifteen etc.

All the ancient languages in the world develop either the Tamil way or the Sanskrit way. In English we see both the trends.

In short, all the ancient languages have come from Tamil and Sanskrit. There are thousands of Tamil words in English. The long list was given by Sathur Sekaran 40 years ago, who I interviwed in the BBC Tamil Service in London in 1988.

If we go deeper still, we can see both Tamil and Sanskrit have the same roots and same grammar rules; Sandhi (Punarchi in Tamil) rules or Joining of words rules are followed until today only in two languages Tamil and Sanskrit. Some of the vestiges we can still see in European languages which have come from Sanskrit! (Or cal it Indo-European!)

Tamil is closely related to Sanskrit. There is no other language that comes this closer. This did not happen because of geographical proximity; it happened because of internal thinking process. Both languages evolved from the same source and diversifies or branched out 2500 years ago.