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Y (named wyeAlso spelled wy. , plural wyes)"Y", Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989); Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1993); "wy", op. cit. is the 25th and penultimate letter in the and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. In the English writing system, it sometimes represents a and sometimes a .

In Latin, Y was named I graeca ("Greek I"), since the classical Greek sound , similar to modern German ü or French u, was not a native sound for Latin speakers, and the letter was initially only used to spell foreign words. This history has led to the standard modern names of the letter in Romance languages – i grego in Galician, i grega in Catalan, i grec in French and Romanian, i greca in Italian – all meaning "Greek I". The names igrek in Polish and i gờ-rét in Vietnamese are both phonetic borrowings of the French name. In Dutch, both Griekse ij and i-grec are used. In Spanish, Y is also called i griega; however, in the twentieth century, the shorter name ye was proposed and was officially recognized as its name in 2010 by the Real Academia Española, although its original name is still accepted. The original Greek name υ ψιλόν ( ) has also been adapted into several modern languages: in German, for example, it is called Ypsilon, in Icelandic it is ufsilon i, and in Italian the name is ipsilon or i greca. In Portuguese, both names are used ( ípsilon and i grego). In Faroese, the letter is simply called seinna i ("later i") because of its later place in the alphabet.

borrowed Latin Y to write the native Old English sound (previously written with the rune yr ). The name of the letter may be related to 'ui' (or 'vi') in various medieval languages; in it was 'wi' , which through the Great Vowel Shift became the 'wy' .

+Summary of the sources of "Y"
Y (vowels)
C →
G →
Y (consonant)

The oldest direct ancestor of English letter Y was the Semitic letter waw (pronounced as w), from which also come F, U, V, and W. See F for details. The Greek and Latin alphabets developed from the Phoenician form of this early alphabet. In Modern English, there is also some historical influence from the old English letter (Ȝȝ), which developed from the Semitic (as described below).

The form of the modern letter Y is derived from the Greek letter . The first borrowed a form of upsilon as the single letter V, which represented both the vowel sound and the semivowel consonant sound . (In modern written Latin, V is typically distinguished from U.) This first loaning of upsilon into Latin is not the source of the Modern English Y (instead, it is the source of Modern English V and U).

The usage of the Greek Y form of upsilon as opposed to U, V, or W, dates back to the Latin of the first century BC, when upsilon was introduced a second time, this time with its "foot" to distinguish it. It was used to transcribe loanwords from the prestigious dialect of Greek, which had the non-Latin vowel sound (as found in modern French cru (raw), or German grün (green)) in words that had been pronounced with /u/ in earlier Greek. Because y was not a native sound of Latin, it was usually pronounced or . Some Latin words of origin also came to be spelled with 'y': Latin silva ('forest') was commonly spelled sylva, in analogy with the Greek cognate and synonym ὕλη.Oxford English Dictionary Second edition, 1989; online version June 2011, s.v. 'sylva'

The Roman proposed introducing a new letter into the Latin alphabet to transcribe the so-called sonus medius (a short vowel before labial consonants),

(1999). 9783110162745 .
which in inscriptions was sometimes used for Greek upsilon instead.

The letter Y was used to represent the sound /y/ in the writing systems of some other languages that adopted the Latin alphabet. In and , there was a native /y/ sound, and so Latin U, Y and I were all used to represent distinct vowel sounds. But, by the time of , had lost its and became identical to I ( and ). Therefore, many words that originally had I were spelled with Y, and vice versa. The distinction between and was also lost in later Icelandic and , making the distinction purely orthographic and historical, but not in the mainland Scandinavian languages, where the distinction is retained. It may be observed that a similar merger of into happened in Greek around the beginning of the 2nd millennium, making the distinction between iota (Ι, ι) and upsilon (Υ, υ) purely a matter of historical spelling there as well. In the West Slavic languages, Y was adapted as a sign for the close central unrounded vowel /ɨ/; later, /ɨ/ merged with /i/ in Czech and Slovak, whereas Polish retains it with the pronunciation ɘ. Similarly, in , Y came to be used to designate the vowels /ɨ/ and /ɘ/ in a way predictable from the position of the vowel in the word. Since then, /ɨ/ has merged with /i/ in Southern Welsh dialects, but /ɘ/ is retained.

In Modern English, Y can represent the same vowel sounds as the letter I. The use of the letter Y to represent a vowel is more restricted in Modern English than it was in Middle and early Modern English. It occurs mainly in the following three environments: for upsilon in Greek loan-words ( s ystem: Greek σ ύστημα), at the end of a word ( rye, city; compare cities, where S is final), and in place of I before the ending -ing ( dy-ing, justify-ing).

As a consonant in English, Y normally represents a palatal approximant, ( y ear , German Jahr). This use was possibly influenced by the Middle English letter (Ȝȝ), which could represent . (Yogh could also represent other sounds, such as , which came to be written gh in Middle English.)

Confusion in writing with the letter thorn
When printing was introduced to Great Britain, and other English printers used Y in place of Þ (thorn: Modern English th), which did not exist in continental . From this convention comes the spelling of the as ye in the mock archaism . But, in spite of the spelling, pronunciation was the same as for modern the (stressed , unstressed ). Ye () is purely a modern spelling pronunciation.

Use in writing systems

As :
  • at the beginning of a word as in yes
As non-syllabic ɪ̯:
  • after some vowels in , as in play, grey, boy
As :
  • without stress at the end of multi-syllable word as in baby, happy
  • used in combination with e at the end of words, as in money, key
As :
  • in a closed syllable without stress and with stress as in myth, system, gymnastics
  • in a closed syllable under stress as in typical, lyric
  • in an open syllable without stress as in physique, pyjamas
As :
  • under stress in an open syllable as in my, type, rye, lying, pyre, tyre, typhoon
  • in a stressed open syllable as in hyphen, cycle, cylon
  • in a pretonic open syllable as in hypothesis, psychology
  • word-finally after a consonant, as in ally, unify
  • combining with as under stress (like in bird), as in myrtle, myrrh
  • as () in words like martyr

In morphology, -y is an suffix.

Other languages
represents the sounds  or  (sometimes long) in the Scandinavian languages. It can never be a consonant (except for [[loanword]]s). In Norwegian, it forms part of the diphthong , which is spelled  in Swedish, and  (formerly ) in Danish.

In and , appears only in and .

In Dutch, it usually represents . It may sometimes be left out of the and replaced with the digraph. In addition, and are occasionally used instead of Dutch and , albeit very rarely.

In German orthography, the pronunciation has taken hold since the 19th century in classical loanwords – for instance in words like typisch 'typical', Hyäne, Hysterie, mysteriös, Syndrom, System, Typ. It is also used for the sound in loanwords, such as Yacht (variation spelling: Jacht), Yak, Yeti; however, e.g. yo-yo is spelled " J o-J o " in German, and yoghurt/yogurt/yoghourt "Jog(h)urt" mostly). The letter is also used in many geographical names, e.g. Bayern Bavaria, Ägypten Egypt, Libyen Libya, Paraguay, Syrien Syria, Uruguay, Zypern Cyprus (but: J emen Yemen, Jugoslawien Yugoslavia). Especially in German names, the pronunciations or occur as well – for instance in the name Meyer, where it serves as a variant of , cf. , another common spelling of the name. In German the y is preserved in the plural form of some loanwords such as Bab ys bab ies and Part ys part ies, celebrations.

A that derives from the ligature occurs in the Afrikaans language, a descendant of Dutch, and in names. In Afrikaans, it denotes the diphthong . In Alemannic German names, it denotes long , for instance in or – the cognate non-Alemannic German names Schneider or have the diphthong that developed from long .

In Icelandic writing system, due to the loss of the Old Norse rounding of the vowel /y/, the letters and are now pronounced identically to the letters and , namely as and respectively. The difference in spelling is thus purely etymological. In , too, the contrast has been lost, and is always pronounced , whereas the accented versions and designate the same diphthong (shortened to /u/ in some environments). In both languages, it can also form part of diphthongs such as (in both languages), pronounced , and , pronounced (Faroese only).

In French orthography, is pronounced as when a vowel (as in the words cycle, y) and as as a consonant (as in yeux, voyez). It alternates orthographically with in the conjugations of some verbs, indicating a sound. In most cases when follows a vowel, it modifies the pronunciation of the vowel: , wa, ɥi. The letter has double function (modifying the vowel and or ) in the words payer, balayer, moyen, essuyer, pays, etc., but in some words it has only a single function: in bayer, mayonnaise, coyote; modifying the vowel at the end of proper names like Chardonnay and Fourcroy. In French can have a diaresis ( tréma) as in Moÿ-de-l'Aisne.

In , was used as a word-initial form of that was more visible. (German has used in a similar way.) Hence, el yugo y las flechas was a symbol sharing the initials of Isabella I of Castille ( Ysabel) and Ferdinand II of Aragon. This spelling was reformed by the Royal Spanish Academy and currently is only found in proper names spelled archaically, such as or , the symbol of the Canal de Isabel II. Appearing alone as a word, the letter is a grammatical conjunction with the meaning "and" in and is pronounced . As a consonant, represents in Spanish. The letter is called i/y griega, literally meaning "Greek I", after the Greek letter , or ye.

In Portuguese, (called ípsilon in , both ípsilon or i grego in ) was, together with and , recently re-introduced as the 25th letter, and 19th consonant, of the Portuguese alphabet, in consequence of the Portuguese Language Orthographic Agreement of 1990. It is mostly used in loanwords from English, Japanese and Spanish. Loanwords in general, primarily in both varieties, are more common in Brazilian Portuguese than in European Portuguese. It was always common for Brazilians to stylize Tupi-influenced names of their children with the letter (which is present in most Romanizations of ) e.g. Guaracy, Jandyra, Mayara – though placenames and loanwords derived from indigenous origins had the letter substituted for over time e.g. Nictheroy became Niterói. Usual pronunciations are , , and (the two latter ones are inexistent in European and Brazilian Portuguese varieties respectively, being both substituted by in other dialects). The letters and are regarded as phonemically not dissimilar, though the first corresponds to a vowel and the latter to a consonant, and both can correspond to a depending on its place in a word.

, too, has ( ipsilon) in a small number of loanwords. The letter is also common in some surnames native to the German-speaking province of Bolzano, such as Mayer or Mayr.

In Guaraní, it represents the vowel .

In , it represents the vowel (or, according to some descriptions, ), which is clearly different from , e.g. my (we) and mi (me). No native Polish word begins with ; very few foreign words keep at the beginning, e.g. Yeti (pronounced ).

In and , the distinction between the vowels expressed by Y and I has been lost, but consonants before orthographic (and historical) Y are not palatalized, whereas they are before I.

In , it is usually pronounced in non-final syllables and or (depending on the accent) in final syllables.

In the Standard Written Form of the , it represents the and of Revived Middle Cornish and the and of Revived Late Cornish. It can also represent and Revived Late Cornish and and consequently be replaced in writing with . It is also used in forming a number of diphthongs. As a consonant it represents .

In and Albanian, is always pronounced .

In Estonian, is unofficially used as a substitute for . It is pronounced the same as in .

In Lithuanian, is the 15th letter and is a vowel. It is called the long i and is pronounced , like in English see.

When used as a vowel in Vietnamese, the letter represents the sound ; when it is a monophthong, it is functionally equivalent to the Vietnamese letter . Thus, Mỹ Lai does not rhyme, but mỳ Lee does. There have been efforts to replace all such uses with altogether, but they have been largely unsuccessful. As a consonant, it represents the palatal approximant. The capital letter is also used in Vietnamese as a .

In , , Quechua and the romanization of Japanese, Y is always a palatal consonant, denoting , as in English.

In Malagasy, the letter represents the final variation of .

In , represents .

Other systems
In the International Phonetic Alphabet, corresponds to the close front rounded vowel, and the related character corresponds to the near-close near-front rounded vowel.

Other uses
In , y is commonly used as the name for a dependent variable or unknown.

In Japan, ⓨ is a symbol used for resale price maintenance.

Related characters

Descendants and related characters in the Latin alphabet
  • Y with : Ý ý Ÿ ÿ Ẏ ẏ Ỵ ỵ ẙ Ỷ ỷ Ȳ ȳ Ɏ ɏ Ƴ ƴ
  • and are used in the International Phonetic Alphabet
  • is used in the phonetic transcription system
  • ʸ is used for phonetic transcription
  • Ỿ ỿ : Y with loop is used by some Welsh medievalists to indicate the schwa sound of

Ancestors and siblings in other alphabets
  • 𐤅: Semitic letter Waw, from which the following symbols originally derive
    • Υ υ : letter , from which Y derives
      • : letter epsilon/he (not to be confused with the unrelated Greek letter Ε ε called )
      • 𐌖 : Old Italic U/V, which is the ancestor of modern Latin V and U
      • : letter uuinne/vinja, which is transliterated as w
      • У у : letter U, which derives from Greek upsilon via the digraph omicron-upsilon used to represent the sound /u/
      • Ѵ ѵ : letter , which derives from Greek upsilon and represents the sounds /i/ or /v/. This letter is archaic in the modern writing systems of the living , but it is still used in the writing system of the Slavic liturgical language .
      • Ү ү : Cyrillic letter Ue (or straight U)
      • Ұ ұ : Kazakh Short U

Derived signs, symbols and abbreviations
  • ¥ : Yen sign

Computing codes
On German typewriter- and computer keyboards (in comparison to those used in UK/US), the positions of the letters Y and Z are swapped. (In German, Y is used mainly in loanwords and names.)

Other representations


External links
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