PM&M / Resources / Vocabulary :

Consonants and Vowels

Some people are confused when they are confronted with the results of an older German grammar rule which allows the replacement of the letter 'I' with the letter 'J'. Examples would be JMPERIAL, JNHALT or some town names like the often quoted JLMENAU.

In the older writing form there was often no distinction made between the capital 'I' and 'J' but one could easily recognise what letter was meant: when followed by a vowel, the letter was a consonant (J) and when followed by a consonant, it was a vowel (I). Which of course explains why something written Jlmenau actually refers to Ilmenau.

This substitution of letters was very common in German writing up until shortly after WWII but was then abolished, at least in large parts of West Germany. In the former areas of East Germany however, this form was still used for quite some time and various examples show that it was still used around 1980.

 


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