'j' for 'y' in loanwords: Is there a rule?


Senior Member
Do english speakers still represent the Y sound with J symbol in forgine words? If yes can anyone tell me the rule.
Thanks a lot.
  • hakeem23

    New Member
    Arabic-Saudi Arabia
    I think you mean the sympol J like in the Norwegian language, they pronounce it as Y
    for example: an ex-Manchester united player, his name is spelled ( Solskjaer).
    I've met some one from Norway he pronounced that name: (Solskyear).
    Also, there was a player from Netherlan, his name was ( Jaap Stam )
    and was pronounced as ( Yaap Shtam), I think that refer to the mother language of the name.
    I wish that I did some thing for you L.2
    thanks.. to all


    Senior Member
    Thanks everybody and welcome to the forum Hakeem.
    I am sorry my question was not clear, in my native language there are words that are pronunced y (o or u) but in English they turned to j ex yusef/joseph yacoob/jacoop benyamin/benjamin...etc
    I googled and read that English changed y to j in loanwords so I am asking if you still do this today and if yes I want the rule of doing this I mean why yasmine became Jasmine while yemen is still yemen not Jemen. Why urshalem and urdon became Jersalem and Jordon while ukrania is still ukrania not jukrania.


    Senior Member
    USA English
    I googled and read that English changed y to j in loanwords
    I believe you are starting from very bad information. It might help to know what your meaning is if you provide the source of your information (Google is NOT a source - it's an index).

    Excuse me while I get some frozen yogurt.


    Senior Member
    Hi, L.2.

    Most of the words you mention came into English from French, having come into French from Latin, and into Latin from Classical Hebrew. Latin and Classical Hebrew had no sound like Modern English j. Y in Latin was a vowel only, used only in words borrowed from Greek. J and I were two forms of the same letter, which represented both a vowel and a consonant [j]. Because these words were spelled with a J in Latin, they retain the J in most other languages that use the Latin alphabet even though the letter j has different sounds in these different languages.

    Yemen did not come through Latin, so we spell it like it sounds.

    Ukraine came into English from French, and retains the French spelling.

    I hope this helps.


    Senior Member
    Thanks Sdgraham
    I read it in Wikipedia and even if it wasn't a source it is still truth. I give some examples and there are many other words that their y's were changed to j this can not be coincident.
    I just want to know the rule because there are words that kept their original sounds and there others that were changed.


    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    The examples you describe aren't really loan words, as they are writen and pronounced differently to the words in the 'original' language. For example, although the English name 'Joseph' is spelt and pronounced with a soft 'g' sound, most people I imagine would pronounce the name 'Josef' as 'Yosef' as that's how it's pronounced in German.
    Similarly, nobody would pronounce 'Youssuf' with a 'J' sound.


    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    You can also consider the derivation of Jesus and Jehovah. The former is from Hebrew Yashua through Greek Iesous through Latin Iesous.

    Initially, the letter J was just a decorative version of I. In the 1611 translation of the Bible (the Authorised Version or King James Version), we see Iesus, Iordan, Iohn. We also see iuge (for judge). My understanding is that all of these came to be accorded the /ʤ/ pronunciation as they were spelt similarly.


    Senior Member
    Scotland, English
    How about Majorca?

    I believe it's the English name for Mallorca, which in Spanish is pronounced Mayorca


    Senior Member
    US, English
    I've only heard Majorca pronounced with a /y/ sound, as the Spanish would (approximately, anyway) pronounce the ll. Interestingly enough, with some Spanish accents, the ll would have a /zh/ sound, so really either one would work for the name, in theory.
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