Monday, May 23, 2016

Jacks Part 1

When I heard or read “jackpot” recently, it occurred to me that it was a strange word. Almost immediately afterward, I thought about “jack” as a frequently encountered word or name, something to write about.

"Where the Term 'Jackpot' Came From" explains the origin of the term and also hitting the jackpot. Incidentally, the “jack” part refers to the Jack rank of playing cards.

Behind the Name” explains the origin for Jack, the name.
Derived from Jackin (earlier Jankin), a medieval diminutive of JOHN. It is often regarded as an independent name. During the Middle Ages it was very common, and it became a slang word meaning "man". It was frequently used in fairy tales and nursery rhymes, such as 'Jack and the Beanstalk', 'Little Jack Horner', and 'Jack Sprat'.
I think it interesting about names Jack/John (English) and Jean/Jacques (French). However, Juan has no Spanish equivalent for Jack.

More Kid Stuff
Petra Turnbull writes about Jack and the Beanstalk symbolisms adding more information about additional story characters named Jack.
The name Jack is commonly used in fairy tales as a symbol for a clever but unreliable character who starts off poor and stupid with an unpromising future, but ends up rich and respected by using his wits. Other Jacks in fairy tales are "Jack the Giantkiller" who starts off as a poor farmer's son but cleverly tricks and slays giants and gets to marry an aristocrat, and "Lazy Jack" who does everything to avoid physical work, but still ends up rich through marriage. There is also a "Stingy Jack" who tricks the devil in Irish folk tales and ends up roaming the world, which is where "jack-o-lantern" is derived.
History.com and Pumpkin Nook contain more in-depth info about the jack o' lantern.

 Mother Goose Connections
Scroll to the poems section of Poetry Foundation to links for "Little Jack Horner", "Jack and Jill", and "Jack be Nimble". Click the following links for reading more context about the rhymes.
  • Little Jack Horner
  • Jack (and Jill)
    "Jack and Jill referred to are said to be King Louis XVI - Jack -who was beheaded (lost his crown) followed by his Queen Marie Antoinette - Jill - (who came tumbling after)."
  • Origins of Jack be Nimble (Some discussion about "Jumpin' Jack Flash" coming in "Jacks Part 2".)
 Not Mother Goose, but Well-Known Rhyme Anyway
A non-Mother Goose nursery rhyme is Jack Sprat, pertaining to a royal couple in the 1600s.

Jack(s) Games
A jack is prominent as a token in a child's game and also playing card.

 Jacks
Jacks is a child's game with rubber ball and spiky metal piece. Encyclopedia Brittanica provides an phonetic explanation for the pieces' term.
The name derives from “chackstones”—stones to be tossed. ... In the United States and Canada jacks is primarily a children’s game played with six to 12 or more six-pronged iron or plastic jacks and a small ball
 Jack as a Playing Card Figure
A jack is a face card in a deck of playing cards, ranking below queen and king.
  • According to "History of Blackjack",
    The game was still termed ‘21’ when it gained popularity in Nevada in 1931 as the State first chose to make gambling legal. To draw more people to the game, some casinos then offered a special bet: A hand featuring either of the black jacks (the Jack of Spades or that of Clubs) plus the Ace of Spades would pay 10-to-1 odds on the lucky player’s bet.
  • "Why are Jacks Called Jacks?" provides some background about the jack and relationship to knave.
    Originally, in England, the court cards were called king, queen and knave, with knave being the now-defunct term for a male servant. Card game books still referred to the knave in the 3rd quarter of the 19th century. …The word jack also had 'a common man' as one of its meanings.
  • A New Yorker cartoon has the image of a jack fulfilling a role as another jack.
  • A very popular older song was "From A Jack To A King" by Ricky Van Shelton. It used references to playing cards to convey love conquest.
Jacks Part 2 includes more jacks-related items of song, video media, food, and miscellaneous.

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