Y is the 25th letter in the modern Latin alphabet. It is pronounced as wy or wye in plural it is represented as wyes. Y act as either a consonant or vowel. Its word usage frequency is 1.974%
In Latin, initial name of Y is Graeca “Greek Y”.Y was pronounced as I Graeca “Greek I”. In order to bring the phoneme /y/ Latin Y was borrowed by the Old English. When “Y” is examined as a V atop an I, it was assigned with VI (/uː iː/). Later it was simplified in to one syllable (/wiː/).
If we trace the history back it seems the ancestor of English letter Y might be Semitic letter waw. It also acted as a source for the letters F, U, V, & W . The Greek & Latin alphabets were developed from the Phoenician alphabet form.
The following shows the early and later Semitic versions of waw.
Modern English has influenced by the old English yogh (Ȝȝ).this symbol is developed from Semitic gimel. Yogh also represents other phoneme /ɣ/.in modern English later it was represented as gh.
Initially “Y” seems like the Greek letter upsilon (lowercase υ; uppercase Υ, Greek: Ύψιλον). The Romans has derived a portion of upsilon as a single letter “V” which represents both /u/ & /w/ (consonantal variant).After some days In Latin language for vowel “V” is written like U and for consonant it is written like V.
The capital form(Y) of upsilon was used to transliterate the loan words (borrowed words) from the Greek because they didn’t posses the Latin sound. Those were pronounced like t /u/ or /i/.Later pronunciation became very popular and was started to use by everyone except the educated people. In the same period the letter was adopted in many other languages with a /y/ phoneme.
In old English there exists /y/ sound. So both Latin Y & U were taken for use. In the period of Middle English /y/ had lost significant amount of its roundedness & became same as I (/iː/ and /ɪ/).So most of the words those were originally called with I were started to pronounce with Y and in the reverse (Y to I).
The following table specifies how Y Was called in various languages
|French and Romanian||i grec|
All of the representations gives the meaning “Greek i” where Polish is exception.
The Greek name is still in use in so many European languages. Initially the letter Y was treated like a vowel. In English “Y” represents the consonant but so many traditional English Texts shows that “Y” can also act as a Vowel.
In the German & in the Scandinavian languages “Y” is assigned with two types of sounds namely /y/ or /ʏ/ .It acts as another form of “I”. It will not serve as a consonant.
Both in Icelandic and Faroese “Y” is always sounds as /i/.as far as Dutch language is concerned it appears only in loan words. In many cases “Y” is left out from the Dutch alphabet and it replaced with “ligature IJ”.
How Y is used in various languages?
In Welsh “Y” is pronounced as [ə] same is applicable for both non-final syllables and monosyllabic words.
In both Albanian and Finnish it is always pronounced as [y].
In Italian “Y” exists in some Loanwords.
In Turkish,Quechua,Aymara and in Japanese Y serves a palatal consonant so it will always denotes [j], just like in English.
|Υ υ||Greek letter Upsilon|
|Ү ү||Cyrillic letter Ue|
|У у||Cyrillic letter U|
|Ы ы||Cyrillic letter Yery|
The following table specifies value of “Y” in some character Encodings
Character Latin Latin
Encoding capital letter Y small letter Y
Decimal hex Decimal hex
Unicode 89 0059 121 0079
ASCII 89 59 121 79
UTF-8 89 59 121 79
EBCDIC 232 E8 168 A8
What Does “Y” Stand for in various fields?
Y- Denotes yes
Y – Denotes a question Y?
Y -Denotes Yankee (aviation letter code)
Y -Business Class (Air Freight)
Science and Medicine
Y Represents Tyrosine (amino acid)
Y Represents Male Chromosome
Y represents US DoT tire speed rating (188 mph)
Y- Navigational error of search craft
Y – Vertical axis in Cartesian coordinate system