Showing posts with label jottings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jottings. Show all posts

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Adventures in Logophilia Day 11: Iota

Today's word is...

Iota (noun) is the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet, used in English to mean "a small, infinitesmal amount."  In astronomy, it signifies the ninth star in a constellation.  All signs point to jot.
I've just learned from Oxford Dictionaries that jot (the verb to write something down quickly) - as in "I'm jotting this down for you" or "I don't give a jot" - is the fifteenth century noun translated from the Greek word "iota" into Latin.  It makes sense to me (this was a "Eureka!" moment for me), because until recently "j" was not actually a part of the Latin alphabet, and "i" had most of its workload.  Iota must have had quite a normal entrance into English through this road: iota spelled with a "j." This opens up a world of writing whimsies for me: marginalia and doodles and random notes.  That thing you're scribbling down may not be scintillating to the person next to you, but it is vitally important.  I jot most of the time and not always on paper - it is the way we translate our stream-of-consciousness discoveries into a more permanent form.  Sometimes those jottings make it to a journal.  Sometimes they clutter my wall.  Sometimes they serve as bookmarks that cannot be thrown away.  They seem to be of infinitesmal importance, but really they're not.  We jot because it is of vital importance.  If I didn't jot, I'd lose threads of ideas that could fill my stories, or I'd forget to do something. 
Jots are like Ariadne's crimson thread guiding Theseus through the labyrinth and out of it again.  If I didn't jot, how would I find my way home again?


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