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  • Immagine del redattoreJill

Lettere Straniere

Aggiornamento: 22 mag

My name is Jill.  Juventus Imola Livorno Livorno.    Gyl, Gill, Gylle is how my name is commonly spelled.  The Italian alphabet does not traditionally include the letter J. The standard Italian alphabet consists of 21 letters: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, and Z. 

However, the letter J, along with K, W, X, and Y, does appear in the Italian language but primarily in borrowed words, foreign names, and specific contexts. For example, the word "jeans" and "Jeep" use the letter J. These letters are known as "foreign letters" in Italian. 

The history of the Italian language is a rich tapestry woven from ancient dialects, medieval transformations, and modern standardization. Dating back to the Roman Empire,  Italian, like other Romance languages, evolved from Latin. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Latin began to fragment into various regional dialects. These dialects formed the basis of the modern Romance languages, including Italian. In the Early Middle Ages various Italian dialects emerged, influenced by the specific histories and cultures of different regions including Tuscan, Lombard, Sicilian, and Neapolitan and others emerged.  Centuries later came the unification of these dialects under a standardized form rooted in the Tuscan dialect. Many important literary figures and historical events have played crucial roles in shaping modern Italian, which continues to evolve while maintaining its rich cultural and regional diversity. Contemporary Italian continues to evolve and be influenced by English and other languages through globalization, technology, and foreign language learning.

Back to the letter J,  I was curious to explore the origins of my name Jill, (Gill, Gyl, Gylle)  and pleasantly surprised to find out the literary history.

The origin of the nursery rhyme "Jack and Jill" is not entirely clear, and like many nursery rhymes, it likely evolved over time through oral tradition before being written down in various forms. The earliest known version of the rhyme dates back to the 18th century, appearing in a collection titled "Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book," published in 1744. 

The rhyme goes:

Jack and Jill went up the hill

To fetch a pail of water.

Jack fell down and broke his crown,

And Jill came tumbling after.

Some scholars suggest that "Jack and Jill" may have historical roots, possibly referring to King Charles I's attempts to reform taxes on liquid measures. According to this interpretation, "Jack" and "Gill" (sometimes spelled with a "G" in early versions) represent specific measures, and the falling down may symbolize the failure of the reforms.

Others propose that the rhyme has origins in pagan mythology, where Jack and Jill represent the sun and the moon, respectively, and their journey up the hill symbolizes the celestial bodies' movement across the sky.

Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888) was an American novelist, short story writer, and poet, best known for her novel "Little Women." also wrote "Jack and Jill"  a novel that follows the lives of two young friends, Jack Minot and Jill Pecq, as they navigate the challenges of growing up in a small New England town. The story revolves around their adventures, mishaps, and friendships, highlighting themes of friendship, loyalty, perseverance, and the importance of family.

The narrative begins with Jack and Jill, along with a group of their friends, embarking on a winter sledding adventure on the nearby hill. However, their fun turns tragic when Jack suffers a serious injury, leaving him bedridden and unable to walk. The rest of the story chronicles Jack's journey of recovery, supported by his family and friends, including Jill, who becomes his devoted companion.

Throughout the novel, Jack and Jill learn valuable life lessons, such as the consequences of recklessness, the importance of taking responsibility for one's actions, and the strength that can be found in friendship and community. As they grow older and face new challenges, they remain steadfast allies, supporting each other through thick and thin.

"Jack and Jill" is a heartwarming tale that captures the essence of youth, friendship, and resilience, making it a beloved classic in children's literature.

I am thrilled to find out that my name, has origins in rebellions, mythology and cautionary tales. I hope one day that the J will no longer be considered a ‘lettere straniere' and the J can take its place in a more inclusive and contemporary Italian language.

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