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 English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. In the English writing system, it sometimes represents a vowel and sometimes a consonant.
Old English 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 Middle English it was 'wi' , which through the Great Vowel Shift became the Modern English 'wy' .
|+Summary of the sources of Modern English "Y"|
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 yogh (Ȝȝ), which developed from the Semitic gimel (as described below).
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 Attic Greek 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 Italic languages 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 Emperor Claudius proposed introducing a new letter into the Latin alphabet to transcribe the so-called sonus medius (a short vowel before labial consonants),
The letter Y was used to represent the sound /y/ in the writing systems of some other languages that adopted the Latin alphabet. In Old English and Old Norse, 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 Middle English, had lost its roundedness 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 Faroese language, 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 Middle Welsh, 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).
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 Dutch, it usually represents . It may sometimes be left out of the Dutch alphabet 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. Meier, 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 Alemannic German names. In Afrikaans, it denotes the diphthong . In Alemannic German names, it denotes long , for instance in Schnyder or Schwyz – the cognate non-Alemannic German names Schneider or Schweiz 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 Faroese language, 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 Spanish language, 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 Ybarra or CYII, the symbol of the Canal de Isabel II. Appearing alone as a word, the letter is a grammatical conjunction with the meaning "and" in Spanish language and is pronounced . As a consonant, represents in Spanish. The letter is called i/y griega, literally meaning "Greek I", after the Greek letter ypsilon, or ye.
In Portuguese, (called ípsilon in Brazil, both ípsilon or i grego in Portugal) 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 Old Tupi) 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 semivowel depending on its place in a word.
Italian language, 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 Polish language, 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 Czech language and Slovak language, 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 Welsh language, it is usually pronounced in non-final syllables and or (depending on the accent) in final syllables.
In the Standard Written Form of the Cornish Language, it represents the and of Revived Middle Cornish and the and of Revived Late Cornish. It can also represent Tudor Cornish 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 Finnish language and Albanian, is always pronounced .
In Estonian, is unofficially used as a substitute for . It is pronounced the same as in Finnish language.
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 given name.
In Malagasy, the letter represents the final variation of .
In Turkmen language, represents .
In Japan, ⓨ is a symbol used for resale price maintenance.