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Alternative histories of the letter Y (was: English diphthongs)

From:J. 'Mach' Wust <j_mach_wust@...>
Date:Friday, August 29, 2008, 10:06
On Tue, 26 Aug 2008 18:30:01 +0200, Ina van der Vegt wrote:

>I'm pretty sure it was, as the Dutch version (Ethymologically related) >of the word Price (Prijs) is spelled with 'ij', which I've always heard >was originally a spelling for [i:], and still is pronounced that way in >some local dialects.
That reminds me of an interesting topic. Not every instance of the letter Y, though normally thought of as originating from the Greek letter Y, really originates from it. There seem to be several other origins: * In Africaans and in Alemannic German (as for instance in the name "Schnyder"), but also in older Dutch orthography and Dutch names, the letter Y is a replacement of an older ij-digraph. Note also the "intermediate" form ÿ. * In some samples of Middle English, the letter Y is a replacement for an older Thorn letter þ, as for instance in "ye olde shoppe". * Regarding Old English, there is the theory that the letter Y originated from a combination of the letters V and I, or at least was understood as a combination of these letters, hence the name U-I that regularly developed into the modern name "wye". I can't judge whether this theory is still upheld, but I find it interesting. I think this is what may happen when you have an appearently superfluous letter in your alphabet: It may pick up or merge into an originally unrelated use. -- grüess mach


Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>