When did English speakers start capitalizing " I "

Moderator: JackFrost

Stan
Posts: 2534
Joined: 2004-11-21, 0:19
Location: Jacksonville, Florida

When did English speakers start capitalizing " I "

Postby Stan » 2005-05-30, 19:29

In English we capitalize the word " I " all the time, regardless of its position in a sentence. There must be a reason for this, perhaps it's because we have such big egos, that we have to capitalize the word that refers to ourselves? :lol:
if I was President,
I'd get elected on Friday
assassinated on Saturday
buried on Sunday

User avatar
Geist
Posts: 819
Joined: 2004-07-21, 18:02
Location: New York, US

Postby Geist » 2005-05-31, 20:48

I've often wondered about this. There doesn't seem to be any logic behind it.
Das ganze Meer verändert sich, wenn ein Stein hineingeworfen wird.
- Blaise Pascal

English, Deutsch, Español

Learning: Polski, Русский

User avatar
Psi-Lord
Posts: 10087
Joined: 2002-08-18, 7:02
Real Name: Marcel Q.
Gender: male
Location: Cândido Mota
Country: BR Brazil (Brasil)
Contact:

Postby Psi-Lord » 2005-05-31, 21:40

I once read that it was just a way to keep the poor little i from 'disappearing' in the rest of the text, especially before dotting the is became common practice. Never found out if that was really so, though.
português do Brasil (pt-BR)British English (en-GB) galego (gl) português (pt) •• العربية (ar) български (bg) Cymraeg (cy) Deutsch (de)  r n km.t (egy) español rioplatense (es-AR) 日本語 (ja) 한국어 (ko) lingua Latina (la) ••• Esperanto (eo) (grc) français (fr) (hi) magyar (hu) italiano (it) polski (pl) Türkçe (tr) 普通話 (zh-CN)

User avatar
Psi-Lord
Posts: 10087
Joined: 2002-08-18, 7:02
Real Name: Marcel Q.
Gender: male
Location: Cândido Mota
Country: BR Brazil (Brasil)
Contact:

Postby Psi-Lord » 2005-05-31, 21:47

From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

I : 12c. shortening of O.E. ic, first person sing. nom. pronoun, from P.Gmc. *ekan (cf. O.Fris. ik, O.N. ek, Norw. eg, Dan. jeg, O.H.G. ih, Ger. ich, Goth. ik), from PIE *ego(m) (cf. Skt. aham, Hitt. uk, L. ego, Gk. ego, Rus. ja). Reduced to i by 1137 in northern England, it began to be capitalized c.1250 to mark it as a distinct word and avoid misreading in handwritten manuscripts. […] The dot on the "small" letter -i- began to appear in 11c. L. manuscripts, to distinguish the letter from the stroke of another letter (such as -m- or -n-). Originally a diacritic, it was reduced to a dot with the introduction of Roman type fonts. […]
português do Brasil (pt-BR)British English (en-GB) galego (gl) português (pt) •• العربية (ar) български (bg) Cymraeg (cy) Deutsch (de)  r n km.t (egy) español rioplatense (es-AR) 日本語 (ja) 한국어 (ko) lingua Latina (la) ••• Esperanto (eo) (grc) français (fr) (hi) magyar (hu) italiano (it) polski (pl) Türkçe (tr) 普通話 (zh-CN)

User avatar
Kirk
Posts: 2607
Joined: 2005-05-26, 19:43
Real Name: Kirk
Gender: male
Location: Los Angeles
Country: US United States (United States)

Postby Kirk » 2005-06-02, 4:28

Psi-Lord wrote:From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

I : 12c. shortening of O.E. ic, first person sing. nom. pronoun, from P.Gmc. *ekan (cf. O.Fris. ik, O.N. ek, Norw. eg, Dan. jeg, O.H.G. ih, Ger. ich, Goth. ik), from PIE *ego(m) (cf. Skt. aham, Hitt. uk, L. ego, Gk. ego, Rus. ja). Reduced to i by 1137 in northern England, it began to be capitalized c.1250 to mark it as a distinct word and avoid misreading in handwritten manuscripts. […] The dot on the "small" letter -i- began to appear in 11c. L. manuscripts, to distinguish the letter from the stroke of another letter (such as -m- or -n-). Originally a diacritic, it was reduced to a dot with the introduction of Roman type fonts. […]


Thanks for that--that was interesting! Besides readability in medieval texts, I ("i?") agree that it's pretty arbitrary that spelling demand "I" be capitalized. I remember in first grade in school when the teachers reminded us all why "I" was capitalized--"why is 'I' capitalized? Because it's a name and names are always capitalized!!" Of course they didn't like my natural response that if "I" is a name, then "you" should be one, too, and shouldn't it be capitalized? You're not supposed to think of those things in first grade :)

Stan
Posts: 2534
Joined: 2004-11-21, 0:19
Location: Jacksonville, Florida

Postby Stan » 2005-06-02, 15:22

svenska84 wrote:
Psi-Lord wrote:From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

I : 12c. shortening of O.E. ic, first person sing. nom. pronoun, from P.Gmc. *ekan (cf. O.Fris. ik, O.N. ek, Norw. eg, Dan. jeg, O.H.G. ih, Ger. ich, Goth. ik), from PIE *ego(m) (cf. Skt. aham, Hitt. uk, L. ego, Gk. ego, Rus. ja). Reduced to i by 1137 in northern England, it began to be capitalized c.1250 to mark it as a distinct word and avoid misreading in handwritten manuscripts. […] The dot on the "small" letter -i- began to appear in 11c. L. manuscripts, to distinguish the letter from the stroke of another letter (such as -m- or -n-). Originally a diacritic, it was reduced to a dot with the introduction of Roman type fonts. […]


Thanks for that--that was interesting! Besides readability in medieval texts, I ("i?") agree that it's pretty arbitrary that spelling demand "I" be capitalized. I remember in first grade in school when the teachers reminded us all why "I" was capitalized--"why is 'I' capitalized? Because it's a name and names are always capitalized!!" Of course they didn't like my natural response that if "I" is a name, then "you" should be one, too, and shouldn't it be capitalized? You're not supposed to think of those things in first grade :)

I heard that German speakers capitalize the word for "you", but hey, they capitalize almost everything. :twisted:
if I was President,

I'd get elected on Friday

assassinated on Saturday

buried on Sunday

User avatar
Psi-Lord
Posts: 10087
Joined: 2002-08-18, 7:02
Real Name: Marcel Q.
Gender: male
Location: Cândido Mota
Country: BR Brazil (Brasil)
Contact:

Postby Psi-Lord » 2005-06-02, 15:35

Stancel wrote:I heard that German speakers capitalize the word for "you", but hey, they capitalize almost everything. :twisted:

It seems that many languages captalise the word for 'you' when addressing someone politely and/or using formal pronouns. In German, though, it seems that captalised 'Du's are getting more and more rare to see these days. ;)
português do Brasil (pt-BR)British English (en-GB) galego (gl) português (pt) •• العربية (ar) български (bg) Cymraeg (cy) Deutsch (de)  r n km.t (egy) español rioplatense (es-AR) 日本語 (ja) 한국어 (ko) lingua Latina (la) ••• Esperanto (eo) (grc) français (fr) (hi) magyar (hu) italiano (it) polski (pl) Türkçe (tr) 普通話 (zh-CN)

User avatar
Car
Forum Administrator
Posts: 10521
Joined: 2002-06-21, 19:24
Real Name: Silvia
Gender: female
Country: DE Germany (Deutschland)
Contact:

Postby Car » 2005-06-02, 16:04

Psi-Lord wrote:It seems that many languages captalise the word for 'you' when addressing someone politely and/or using formal pronouns. In German, though, it seems that captalised 'Du's are getting more and more rare to see these days. ;)


That's because it was only capitalised according to the old spelling rules, according to the new ones, it isn't capitalised anymore, while "Sie" etc.(formal "you") still are.
Please correct my mistakes!

User avatar
sa wulfs
Posts: 4286
Joined: 2005-02-28, 12:24
Real Name: Rober
Gender: male
Location: Madridissa
Country: ES Spain (España)

Postby sa wulfs » 2005-06-02, 18:11

Well, what to capitalize is always an arbitrary decision. In Spanish you capitalize proper nouns and nothing else - for example you write "Francia" but "francés". Back in the day, when the Latin alphabet was young, you only had capital letters, and you wouldn't even mark word boundaries. Ultimately I suspect it depends on the decisions made by a reduced group of men who were at the right place at the right time, probably without knowing their decisions would become standard and mandatory for everybody else.
http://ungelicisus.blogspot.com
Hrōþabaírhts sa Wulfs | Hrōðbeorht se Wulf | Hróðbjartr Úlfrinn | Hruodperaht der Wolf | Hrôthberht thê Wulf

faust
Posts: 12
Joined: 2005-05-31, 23:51
Real Name: örtel vingårdsson
Gender: male
Location: Göteborg
Country: SE Sweden (Sverige)

Postby faust » 2005-06-02, 21:50

An interesting point is that Swedish also had a pronoun with only the capitalized letter 'I' in it until the 16th century. (The word had the same meaning as the English 'ye' and the German 'ihr', but as the plural forms of verbs always ended with '-n', those and the old 'I' gradually transformed into the current 'ni', while the distinctions between verbal persons disappeared.) I don't think formality was the reason for this capitalization.

User avatar
Geist
Posts: 819
Joined: 2004-07-21, 18:02
Location: New York, US

Postby Geist » 2005-06-02, 23:58

Car wrote:
Psi-Lord wrote:It seems that many languages captalise the word for 'you' when addressing someone politely and/or using formal pronouns. In German, though, it seems that captalised 'Du's are getting more and more rare to see these days. ;)


That's because it was only capitalised according to the old spelling rules, according to the new ones, it isn't capitalised anymore, while "Sie" etc.(formal "you") still are.


"Du" is still capitalized in letters (or can be), oder?
Das ganze Meer verändert sich, wenn ein Stein hineingeworfen wird.

- Blaise Pascal



English, Deutsch, Español



Learning: Polski, Русский

User avatar
Saaropean
Posts: 8808
Joined: 2002-06-21, 10:24
Real Name: Rolf S.
Gender: male
Location: Montréal
Country: CA Canada (Canada)

Postby Saaropean » 2005-06-03, 5:51

Geist wrote:
Car wrote:
Psi-Lord wrote:It seems that many languages captalise the word for 'you' when addressing someone politely and/or using formal pronouns. In German, though, it seems that captalised 'Du's are getting more and more rare to see these days. ;)


That's because it was only capitalised according to the old spelling rules, according to the new ones, it isn't capitalised anymore, while "Sie" etc.(formal "you") still are.


"Du" is still capitalized in letters (or can be), oder?

No. In the old spelling, it was capitalized in letters (but not elsewhere), in the new spelling it's not capitalized anywhere. Outside letters, "du" and "ihr" were never capitalized.

AFAIK you can capitalize the polite 2nd person pronoun in Spanish ("Vd."), Italian ("Lei") and Dutch ("U"), too.
In German, you have to capitalize it to avoid confusion with the 3rd person plural.

User avatar
dorenda
Posts: 2896
Joined: 2004-11-17, 23:02
Real Name: Dorenda
Gender: female
Country: PL Poland (Polska)
Contact:

Postby dorenda » 2005-06-03, 14:42

Saaropean wrote:AFAIK you can capitalize the polite 2nd person pronoun in Spanish ("Vd."), Italian ("Lei") and Dutch ("U"), too.

In Dutch, capitalizing U is also old spelling.


Return to “English”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest