Jazzy HanDs for Letter D (and delta)!!!

Published 18th April 2011
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Jazzy HanDs for Letter D (and delta)!!!

First of all, let’s start by saying that letter actually belongs to the plosive family. If you think about it, ‘plosive’ reminds of the word ‘explosion’. These are consonants produced by stopping the airflow in the vocal tract. And what are its relatives? Of course it’s the gang composed of B (we’ve met this already about a month ago) and G, whereas T is the ‘unvoiced’ counterpart of “D”.

It might be interesting to mention that, even if it sounds impossible, some languages actually lack the letter D. Two of these are Etruscan – which was spoken in Italy before the rise of the Romans. So it might be a bit hard to find any native speakers – and Mandarin Chinese. I’ll definitely eavesdrop next time I hear two Chinese native speakers, just to make sure that they don’t drop any into their conversation!

D made its first appearance in the Phoenician alphabet and then continued as part of the Greek one, first in the shape of an isosceles triangle (a delta) pointing towards the sky. It then turned into the ‘half-moon’ shape we know today. However, the triangle is still used in modern Greek to represent the letter D. Also, the word ‘delta’ –which also begins with a D – usually signifies something in the shape of a triangle. So, this is the main reason why we have the Nile Delta, which represents the mouth of the river in case the main stream splits into several little creeks.


Also, ‘Delta’ is very widespread as a company name together with other words, as well as being used in maths. So, what a remarkable little sign! In addition, although we cannot hear the Etruscan language any more, we should thank the Etruscans because it is thanks to them that we now boast a proud and pot-bellied D. In fact, when the Romans took over, they adopted the Etruscan D and, with the spread of the empire, they took it on a world tour. This is one of the reasons why all romance languages have a D, since they are all rooted in the Latin language.

And finally, I was thinking of what we use when we have to spell D. It is for Door in English, for Domodossola in Italian (that’s only a place, don’t worry, no strange disease!) and for Dora in German!!! Do you know some more?

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