Posted by on Jan 18, 2010 in Interesting Facts | 3 comments

You may have noticed I’m a little picky around here about the proper use of words n’ stuff. Fo’ sho. Today I’m a gonna tell y’all about the tiniest part of our written language… the tittle.

You’ve heard of the phrase “cross your T’s and dot your I’s” and the tittle is the latter half of that. It’s the little dot above the lowercase i and j in the English alphabet and many other languages that come from Latin. Originally, the tittle was added to the i, circa 11th century manuscripts, so that the small stroke would be easily recognized as a distinct character.

The ninth letter of the Greek alphabet looks like an i without the tittle. That, the smallest letter in the Greek alphabet, is an iota. I’m hoping you care more than one iota about the iota, but just in case, I’ll move on.

In some modern alphabets, such as Turkish and Kazakh, the i is used both with and without the tittle to indicate the proper pronunciation of the word. Irish traditional Gaelic uses only an i without the tittle. (and j does not appear at all)

The word itself does show up in the Gospel of Matthew, referring to “every jot and tittle” as a measure of attention to detail.