Updated date:

Every Word Tells a Story 10 - Jade, Jeroboam and Jitterbug

Mohan is a family physician, film and TV aficionado, a keen bibliophile and an eclectic scribbler.

every-word-tells-a-story-12-levitate-laconic-and-lucifer

Jay Ho!

In this ongoing series on word origins and their wonderful stories we come to the Tenth letter of the alphabet. A relatively infrequent visitor in the English Language, it is pronounced 'Jay' . However when it comes to represent the 'y' sound as in 'Hallelujah' it is called a 'yod'.

The letter J has a curious origin. It was originally just a stylish way of writing an extra 'i' in the Roman Numerals. for example 33 (xxxiii) would have been written as xxxiij. Only in the 15th century was the sound 'J' developed and the letter was given a unique identity.

Now what jubilant joys does J words have to offer? As always dear reader, if you have been following this series, you'll know my mind links and leaps through so many areas and so many themes. I find this way of learning entertaining and stimulating every now and then. Here we shall go from an ancient Gemstone, a signature, A Roman God to a bottle of champagne. Now where else can you make such a strange journey?

With so many delights to choose from I am jousting with my own conscience to pick the ones that are justifiable for this jamboree.

Whatever I pick, I shall jink through the journey with jocose merriment but do promise not to throw jabberwockery at you like some juggins.

So come with me and see what jute-bag of tricks this jongleur has to offer!*

* There will a be a quiz at the end to test you on the above J words, smart reader, so pay attention!*

A Jade Dragon

A Jade Dragon

Jade Stone

Jade Stone

What trades today - in its pure form - at around $3000 an ounce and is considered more precious than Gold or Diamonds?

Jade carving from the Mayan Period

Jade carving from the Mayan Period

A Mughal emperor's Jade inkwell from India

A Mughal emperor's Jade inkwell from India

JADE



What naturally occurring resource is more precious than gold and diamond in ancient and modern China? What has been used since pre-historic times in civilizations across the world to carve sculptures, ornaments and weaponry? What trades today - in its pure form - at around $3000 an ounce?

The answer dear reader, is the precious stone Jade.


The name Jade conjures to one's mind ancient and modern images of knives and daggers, necklaces and masks, religious icons all coloured in that characteristic green tinge. However not all Jade is green, some can be whitish yellow (called 'mutton-fat' Jade), white and can even have pink, brown or lavender shades.


Jade is a collective name given to two types of metamorphic rock formations Nephrite and Jadeite. It was a French mineralogist in 19th century who determined that the Jade was indeed a common term for two different materials.

Both the names derived from the ancient medical use of this mineral in helping alleviate problems associated with the kidneys and loins. The Latin name of this stone was lapis nephriticus from which the Spanish derived the name piedra de ijada ( loin stone or kidney stone). When the Conquistadors invaded mesoamerican cultures of Olmec and Maya, they found ornaments carved with this stone in abundance. From ijada came the French term L'ejade.


The harder Jadeite and the softer nephrite both lent themselves to hand carving using Bamboo or even quartz in olden times making them popular to artisans.

Jade has been found in use across the world during prehistoric times- examples have been seen as far back as Neolithic cultures. The Maori in New Zealand, The Olmecs and Mayans in South America, ancient Korean dynasties have all used it. The highest quality Jade has been found in Myanmar ( Burma) from where it is imported into China.

But it is in China that Jade has always been treasured and valued to this day. The Chinese believe that Jade represents virtue and morality and that it brings good health. Jade was an imperial Gem originally only accessible by Royals and higher society.In fact some Royals had commissioned Jade burial suits for their last journey.

Jade remains highly collectible and has a huge market in China.


Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull: contrary to popular belief this does not depict the signing but the actual presentation of the draft  Declaration to Congress.

Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull: contrary to popular belief this does not depict the signing but the actual presentation of the draft Declaration to Congress.

John Hancock ( 1737- 1793)

John Hancock ( 1737- 1793)

The Signature of John Hancock: compare its size to the others!

The Signature of John Hancock: compare its size to the others!

Contrary to popular myth the declaration was not signed by all at the same time on July 4, 1776. Rather, the signing began in August that year, beginning with John Hancock. The others all started signing this on various days until the complete signatures were obtained by November.

Trumbull's Declaration as depicted on the reverse of the $2 dollar bill.

Trumbull's Declaration as depicted on the reverse of the $2 dollar bill.

JOHN HANCOCK


The story of how the name 'John Hancock' became a synonym for one's signature is a fascinating one. A wealthy shipping merchant, John Hancock became a patriot and statesman under the tutelage of Samuel Adams in Massachusetts ( yeah I spelt that right!). Influential in the thirteen colonies, Hancock used his money to support the colonial fight for independence. Throughout the fight, Hancock used his statesmanship, his wealth and his influence to spur on the Congress and Washington's Army. As his wealth came from a shipping business, Hancock had even spent some time in England building a customer base.

The oppressive taxation of the British regime, the fierce attempts to curb a revolution, the repeated conniving by the Empire to tarnish Hancock's reputation ( they seized his sloop Liberty in Boston Harbor and labelled him a smuggler) all further fueled his rebellion to fight for the independence.

It was no surprise that when it finally arrived, the Declaration of Independence was a proud moment for the Patriots. John Hancock was the President of Congress and was at hand to sign the Declaration of Independence first. It is no surprise that as he went first, it made sense for him to sign his flamboyant signature in the middle and in a rather large size as he was the first to go.

Contrary to popular myth the declaration was not signed by all at the same time on July 4, 1776. Rather, the signing began in August that year, beginning with John Hancock ( in the presence of just one man, Charles Thomson, the then secretary of the Congress.) The others all started signing this on various days until the complete signatures were obtained by November. Signing this document was no mean thing, it meant treason and all the brave men could've lost their heads for it. Those who signed the declaration did so in order of their Geographic location beginning with the right side below the main text and then arranged themselves around Hancock's flamboyant signature all the way around to the top left. This explains why the signatures are higher on the left than the right!

The story goes that after brandishing his exuberant signature, Hancock exclaimed "There, John Bull can read that without his spectacles, and may now double his reward of five hundred pounds for my head." ( John Bull being the nickname for the British and their King). This, while it does represent a good story, is unlikely to be true.

The painting of all the founding fathers gathered around the declaration is also a feat of artistic license, according to Historians.


The Roman God Janus : God of beginnings, endings, doors, gateways and thresholds.

The Roman God Janus : God of beginnings, endings, doors, gateways and thresholds.

The Arch of Janus: Janus Quadrifrons in Rome

The Arch of Janus: Janus Quadrifrons in Rome

"Janus also has a temple at Rome with double doors, which they call the gates of war; for the temple always stands open in time of war, but is closed when peace has come. The latter was a difficult matter, and it rarely happened, since the realm was always engaged in some war, as its increasing size brought it into collision with the barbarous nations which encompassed it round about." Plutarch, Life of king Numa 20.1-2

JANUS


The Roman God Janus represents beginnings as well as endings, hence the two faces- one looking forward and one backward. He is the God of transitions and also the one of gateways, doors and thresholds. He looks forward and backward in time.

The origins of the name Janus (or Ianus) have been heavily debated. Some feel it comes from the Indo-European root of *Yana from Sanskrit which is a word - to pass- or -to go- implying a transitional state.

The Romans carved their doorways and gates with a forward/backward looking Janus. There were many rites paying tribute to Janus at the beginning of each year, each month and at the onslaught of the military season.

Unsurprisingly, the beginning of a New Year signified a transition from old to new and the first month was named January.

Any spatial transition from one space to the other was also associated with Janus. Most notably the entrance to Etruria from Rome was named Ianiculum.

There is an arch built in Rome called Ianus Quadrifrons that was built as a triumphal arch with four fronts. Its gates remained shut during war and opened during times of peace

In modern parlance a strange and very rare congenital anomaly due to genetic defects can result in animals being born with two faces. While the medical condition is called Diprosopus, in common parlance a cat that is born with such an anomaly is called a Janus Cat.


Jeroboam- The First King of Northern Kingdom of Israel kneeling before the prophet Ahija of Shiloh. The latter tore his new cloak into ten pieces to signify to Jeroboam that he needs to unite the ten tribes into one Kingdom.

Jeroboam- The First King of Northern Kingdom of Israel kneeling before the prophet Ahija of Shiloh. The latter tore his new cloak into ten pieces to signify to Jeroboam that he needs to unite the ten tribes into one Kingdom.

 Jeroboam and the Golden Calf : Jean Fragonard

Jeroboam and the Golden Calf : Jean Fragonard

JEROBOAM


What has the first king of Northern Israelites and a bottle of champagne have in common? Well, lets find out.

Jeroboam,( a member of the Tribe of Ephraim) was made a superintendent of the forces by King Solomon himself. Fiercely ambitious and spurred on by the Prophet Ahija, Jeroboam began to make conspiracies to become the king of the Ten tribes of Israel but was forced into exile in Egypt when he was found out.

At Solomon's death, Rehoboam became king but was an ineffectual leader. The people of the ten tribes of Israel rebelled and invited Jeroboam back to overthrow Rehoboam. Thus the former became the King of the Northern Kingdom.

Jeroboam famously was at war with the Southern Kingdom of Judah and he built and fortified the northern and southern extremes of his Kingdom at Dan and Bethel and installed 'Golden Calves' in both these sites, asking the people of Israel to come and pray there instead of Solomon's Temple. Thus he was named in the scriptures as 'Jeroboam-who caused Israel to sin' for the worship of the Golden calves instead of LORD.

Jeroboam was also called a 'man of great worth' as he reclaimed many lands of Israel up to the Dead sea and united the Ten Tribes.


Champagne sizes

Champagne sizes

The Champagne makers and wine makers of Bordeaux have been using the name Jeroboam for a four standard bottle size since the 18th century. The practice of seeking Biblical kings names for larger format bottles continued from there to this day.

Below are the list of various sizes and how they equate as a ratio of the standard bottle size of 0.75 litre or 750 mls.

every-word-tells-a-story-10-jade-jeroboam-and-jackanapes

Champagne Sizes

Volume (litres)RatioName

 

 

 

0.1875

0.25 of a bottle

Piccolo

0.25

0.33 of a bottle

Chopine

0.750

1 bottle

Standard

1.5

2 standard bottles

Magnum

3.0

4 standard bottles

Jeroboam

4.5

6 standard bottles

Rehoboam

6.0

8 Standard Bottles

Methuselah

9.0

12 Standard Bottles

Mordechai or Salmanazar

12.0

16 Standard Bottles

Balthazar

15.0

20 Bottles

Nebuchadnezzar

18.0

24 Bottles

Melchior

20.0

26.66 Bottles

Solomon

25.0

33.33 Bottles

Sovereign

27.0

36 Bottles

Primat or Goliath

30.0

40 Bottles

Melchizedek

The Jagannath Temple in Puri, Orissa - India

The Jagannath Temple in Puri, Orissa - India

Ratha Yatra: the Journey of the Chariot bearing the huge deities surrounded by thousands of devotees.

Ratha Yatra: the Journey of the Chariot bearing the huge deities surrounded by thousands of devotees.

The relentless passage of this heavy chariot causes stampedes and sometimes devotees were crushed under the wheels and may even sacrifice themselves by throwing their bodies under the wheel.

Ratha Yatra

Ratha Yatra

JUGGERNAUT


The word Juggernaut originated in English around mid 19th century. It means ' a powerful unstoppable and destructive force'. In another meaning it can also mean something that 'demands blind devotion or merciless sacrifice'. One can us e this word to describe a huge machine or a vehicle, a team of people or a forceful political movement under a powerful leader. The word was used to describe the forceful character of Hyde in Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

The origin of this meaning are from the daunting sight that some of the British observers saw during the Hindu festivities of 'Ratha Yatra' a huge procession involving the three Hindu Deities drawn in a massive wagon from the Jagannath Temple in Puri, India in the Colonial days.

The Sanskrit word 'Jagannath' is one of the many names for the Hindu Deity, Lord Vishnu. It literally means 'Lord of the Universe'. ( 'Jagat' Universe and 'Nath' Lord).

During the festivities of Ratha Yatra, Hundreds of thousands of Hindus visit the temple and the swirling mass of humanity surrounds the chariot and wagon to get a glimpse of the lord. The relentless passage of this heavy chariot causes stampedes and sometimes devotees were crushed under the wheels and may even sacrifice themselves by throwing their bodies under the wheel.

For a casual British observer, this sight of a mammoth wagon bearing down on a crowd as an unstoppable force must have been awe inspiring. Hence the word' Juggernaut' was born.


Puri, India

Jitterbugs

Jitterbugs

Jitterbug Instructional Video

The word Jitters is a slang term for alcoholic withdrawal and the uncontrollable shakes that accompany it ...

Even Mickey and Minnie can't resist the Jitterbug

Even Mickey and Minnie can't resist the Jitterbug

JITTERBUG

And finally, let me leave you with a song and a dance. The word Jitterbug or Jitterbugging refers to a swing dancer and the various types of swing dancing that originated in the heyday of dance clubs in the US. The term originated in the mid forties and soon spread across the dance clubs.

The word Jitters is from a slang term for alcoholic withdrawal and the shakes that accompany it ( Delirium Tremens). For the people watching this new wave of uncontrollable dancing, it probably resembled the post- alcohol-shakes!

The various swing dances that originated during this era were a new form of movement, free flowing, energetic, casual and very popular with the youth. Dances such as Lindy Hop, Swing and Jive all come under this category.

Originally popular in the dance clubs it soon spread across the world by American Soldiers stationed all over during the Word War II.

An American TV show called American Bandstand from Philadelphia was broadcast by the ABC - this featured live music, live dancing that was mostly Jitterbugging. this was very popular in the late 1950s.

Musician Cab Calloway featured the words Jitterbug in his 1934 recording "Call of the Jitterbug" and of course many years later, Wham! had a number one hit with 'Wake me up before you go, go" their famous ' Jitterbug' song.

Cab Calloway's Amazing Jumping Jive

The 'J' Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. The word Jousting is a medieval sport of...
    • Riding on a Horse and jumping over hurdles
    • Riding on a Horse and knocking the opponent with a lance
    • Riding on a Horse and drinking gallons of ale
  2. The word Jamboree was used to indicate a boisterous gathering of ...
    • Jam makers
    • African Apes
    • Scouts
  3. The word Jocose can be used to describe someone who is always...
    • Joking and Merry
    • Got a cold
    • wearing funny nylon tights
  4. The word Jabberwock can be used to mean ...
    • A noisy talker
    • someone who jabs you with their finger
    • Nonsense
  5. The word Juggins is used to describe someone who ...
    • is a lover of boobs
    • drinks Jugs of Gin
    • is a simpleton
  6. The word Jink indicates...
    • A sudden twist or a turn
    • A juvenile delinquent
    • A Jovial writer
  7. The word Jugulate means to ...
    • Jumble up things
    • Cut someone's throat
    • Collect Water
  8. The Word Jiffy is a ...
    • unit of time ( 1/100th of a second)
    • sneeze
    • piece of plastic

Answer Key

  1. Riding on a Horse and knocking the opponent with a lance
  2. Scouts
  3. Joking and Merry
  4. Nonsense
  5. is a simpleton
  6. A sudden twist or a turn
  7. Cut someone's throat
  8. unit of time ( 1/100th of a second)

Interpreting Your Score

If you got between 0 and 2 correct answers: Juggins!

If you got between 3 and 4 correct answers: Just ok!

If you got between 5 and 6 correct answers: Jinking close!

If you got 7 correct answers: Jubilations!

If you got 8 correct answers: Juggernaut!

every-word-tells-a-story-10-jade-jeroboam-and-jackanapes

© 2012 Mohan Kumar

Comments

jaymita on August 22, 2014:

i loved reading this hub... this is very interesting to know that each thing's name has its history...u r doing such a great job...

Jools Hogg from North-East UK on October 12, 2012:

87%, jubilations indeed! Great hub, salutations from J....ools

Mary Craig from New York on October 12, 2012:

How lucky we are your mind " links and leaps" to juxtapose so many facts! Who else would write of a Janus Cat, champagne sizes, Ratha Yatra, and more, AND keep us interested and wanting more! There is nothing jaded about this hub and the best part is it all jives...it's a juicy hub filled with jumbo gems and lots of jazz....Sesame Street would be so proud of this hub brought to us by the letter "J".

Always let your enthusiasm carry you away, we love it!!!

Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and shared.

Michelle Liew from Singapore on October 11, 2012:

Thanks for the insights into the little world of J. I love the jitterbug and the historical accounts of John Hancock and the Juggernauts especially. Sharing this, Docmo!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 09, 2012:

What an education, Mohan! I never knew there was such a thing as a two-faced kitty. I've know many two-faced humans, however! And I'm not just joshing!

This was fun. Thanx for the jitterbug!

Funom Theophilus Makama from Europe on October 05, 2012:

What an excellent hub and a perfect medium for education. I love every bit of this hub even though I am sad a bit to get a 50% in your quiz. Great work friend.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on October 05, 2012:

Forgot to add, dear Docmo, thanks for that delightful video of the Nicholas brothers. They were phenomenally proficient tap dancers pleasurable to view.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on October 05, 2012:

What a joyous, judicious J journey, Docmo, I promise to return and memorize every juicy, jubilant, non-judgmental word. Promise! Voted up, naturally.

anuramkumar from Chennai, India on October 05, 2012:

Wow...that was excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed this hub. Will surely find time and make it a point to read the other hubs in this series.

Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on October 05, 2012:

Mohan (Docmo),

The articles I enjoy reading the most are the ones from which I learn something new. You have made learning fun with this fascinating collection of words.

The in-depth research, level of writing, quality of illustrations, and formatting are a signature of so many of your Hubs. They're what I've come to expect from you. Your "letter series," when it has been completed, should be another candidate for an e-book.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on October 05, 2012:

Docmo, You have the best hubs. I not only learn from you, I have fun. Loved the videos. Jade is so beautiful. Thank you for the share...

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on October 04, 2012:

Very interesting and lots of fun, especially the quiz as I got 100%!

You must have needed to do quite a bit of research for this. Voted up.

Dianna Mendez on October 04, 2012:

Didn't know there was so much to the letter J. I enjoyed this hub immensely! You are increasing my knowledge and making it fun. Thanks.

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on October 04, 2012:

Debs... much appreciated. Glad you like this J excursion.. I like you do enjoy expanding my vocabulary and I found I remembered the word better if I knew the story! The earlier chapters also have discussions on human memory and vocabulary. thank you!

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on October 04, 2012:

Rema - thank you so much. I always fret about writing these hubs as my enthusiasm often get carried away and I include as mnay interesting tales as I can... I understand the standard hub mantra is 'K.I.S.S' keep it short and simple.. but as you say when there is so much interesting info... it's nice to have a full course meal rather than a snack.

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on October 04, 2012:

Martie- you know how to allure me with more knowledge! Loved that little titbit of info on Afrikaans and the letter 'J'. thank you so much! English too had such distinction between 'you' and 'Thou' but nor any more and many languages have kept the distinction between the 2nd person singular and plural ... like the French 'Tu' and 'Vous'...thank you very much!

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on October 04, 2012:

Cyndi- I can see from your comment every little nugget of information has zinged home and created a ripple of learning. I am glad this information here was entertaining and illustrative. Appreciate your visit!

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on October 04, 2012:

Janine.. i should've included you in this 'J' series! That's what I like about writing this.. it takes me to places, memories and new knowledge that I probably would never consider learning. It is truly mind expanding. I hope I am able to convey that here in an entertaining and stimulating way...

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on October 04, 2012:

eHealer you're a 'J' genius. well done on the 100% and thanks for the continuing support and readership.

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on October 04, 2012:

Thank you very much Deborah...My teaching sessions are very much peppered with literary allusions, fun facts, trivia and links and leaps that tend to make the learning less dry and more colourful. I always check with the students that I am not rambling away from the core subject but merely giving them useful and interesting anchors for memory. I write this series in very much that style....

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on October 04, 2012:

Thank you, joyful jitterbug. I am glad you found this a jubilant exploration Dana, I've ben meaning to come back to this series as I enjoy researching and writing these hubs very much. time consuming it may be but there is a lot for bang for one's buck.

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on October 04, 2012:

What a great idea for a series! I will have to go back and read the others and expand my vocabulary a bit more. I did get 75% on the quiz.

Rema T V from Chennai, India on October 04, 2012:

WOW! Mohan, what an excellent hub! Enjoyed it thoroughly and even though you mentioned it to be a lengthy hub, it did not seem so because of the interesting content.

I learned so many new things today from the history behind the precious Jade to Jeroboam, Juggernaut and the grand finale of Jitterbug. What a long time since I heard WHAM! It was so refreshing to listen to this great song that I used to love those days.

Thanks for an enriching hub. Shared, pinned and tweeted too. Am bookmarking all the other letters too for future reading. I am amazed by the wealth of information I found here Mohan.

Cheers, Rema.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on October 03, 2012:

Very interesting!

The letter 'j' in Afrikaans is not pronounced the same way as the English 'j'. It sounds like the 'y' in 'you'. and 'yes'. 'Ja' is our word for 'yes' and 'jy' (as in 'hey') means 'you', but only you, Docmo. When we talk TO more than one person we would say 'julle' and ABOUT more than one, 'hulle'. Thought you might find this interesting, Baby Tjoklits :)

Voted up, interesting and awesomely well-presented :)

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on October 03, 2012:

Cool history!! I love jade, don't have any, but I can see why the ancient Mayans and Aztecs prized it so much. The Janus cat is disturbing - I had no idea that there was such an anomaly! And I love the jitterbug! I had no idea that American soldiers had a key role in making it popular. Haha, that's awesome! Fun post and comprehensive! Thank you for sharing this!

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on October 03, 2012:

Oh Docmo, I loved this and especially the last one "The Jitterbug", because my grandparents actually were into this dance and was actually taught a bit of this dance my grandfather (great memories there). So truly enjoyed reading the origins of the actual word. Also can't help, but have a special place in my heart for the letter 'J' the first letter in my name, plus loved the addition of Wham's Wake Me Up...this song actually had a calming effect on Emma during her colicky days!! Have voted and shared all over!!!

Deborah from Las Vegas on October 03, 2012:

I got 100 on the quiz! I'm so jovial and will joust in a jiffy! Hey docmo, great hub. I love the photos of Jade! It's just stunning. Thanks and voted up!

Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on October 03, 2012:

what awesome and interesting hub. I feel like I am back in school. and i loved it.. there was so much I did not know. thank you for the history lesson and the test.. great hub

sharing

Debbie

Dana Strang from Ohio on October 03, 2012:

What a Jubliant exploration of the letter J. There areso many interesting things to know about the smallest and seemongly most inconsequential of things. I lovethat you dig it up and bring it to the surface for us to enjoy.

I enjoyed learning the information you provided, as well as the places it took me, and the memories it brough up. I am reminded of Latin class and my 80 year old teacher explaining to us as we sat baffled that there would be no use of the letter J (or W)! And then there were the countless hours in college watching my friends play a video game based on comicbook chacacters, one being Juggernaut....what a fun read for a nerdy girl that loves letters. :)

Related Articles