Sunday, November 11, 2007


Back to Kelly Jo. She is the young woman at work, who gave me the idea for this blog by repeatedly asking me, “What’s the word?” She tells me that she actually does talk about some of my “words” with her friends every once in a while. She admits that most of the time when I’m babbling on and on about this word or that, she just appreciates the break from filing and phone calls and word processing; but sometimes, a word sticks. One of her favorites is “jo.”

As far as I know, “jo” is the only two-letter word in the English language that contains the letter “j.” That makes it a very valuable word for a Scrabble player like me. In my experience with the game, it is much more helpful to know lots of little words than it is to know lots of big ones. Little words that use the “j,” “q,” “x,” or “z” are especially valuable. Recently, I was able to use “jo” in the lower left-hand corner of the board for a triple-word score of 30 points, which is not a terrific Scrabble play, but it is quite respectable.

First, it is important to know what “jo” is not:

1. “Jo” is not a marsupial. The Australian word for any young animal, especially a kangaroo is not “jo,” but “joey.”
2. “Jo” is not an average man. The American slang word for a regular fellow or regular guy is not “jo,” but “joe.” Think average joe.
3. “Jo” is not the Mexican word for “yo,” meaning “I.” The Mexicans do say “jo” for “yo,” but this is a foreign word and therefore not allowed. Also, the word is “yo,” not “jo.”
4. “Jo” is not a morning pick-me-up. I don’t know how to spell “cuppa jo,” but however I’ve tried to spell it, the Scrabble dictionary doesn’t have it. The game’s official reference book says “cuppa” is a cup of tea. It does not contain “cuppa jo.”
5. “Jo” is not a girl’s name. Well, actually, it is a girl’s name. Who could ever forget Jo March from Little Women? However, since Jo is a proper noun, it is not allowed in Scrabble.

That brings us to what “jo” is. “Jo” is a Scottish word which comes from the word “joy.” It means beloved one, darling or sweetheart. Kelly Jo remembered this word because it is also her middle name. Last week when she and her boyfriend were having a fight that resulted in name-calling, Kelly Jo shielded herself from Sean’s insults by insisting that she was a "jo," a sweetheart...and she is.

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