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212 Why is "I" capitalized? (Spelling - alt.usage.english)




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This article is from the alt.usage.english FAQ, by Mark Israel misrael@scripps.edu with numerous contributions by others.

212 Why is "I" capitalized? (Spelling - alt.usage.english)


The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology (Wilson, 1988, ISBN
0-8242-0745-9) says: "~I~ "pron." 1137 "i;" later "I" (about 1250,
in "The Story of Genesis and Exodus"); developed from the unstressed
form of Old English (about 725) "ic" singular pronoun of the first
person (nominative case). Modern and Middle English "I" developed
from earlier "i" in the stressed position. "I" came to be written
with a capital letter thereby making it a distinct word and avoiding
misreading handwritten manuscripts. In the northern and midland
dialects of England the capitalized form "I" appeared about 1250.
In the south of England, where Old English "ic" early shifted in
pronunciation to "ich" (by palatalization), the form "I" did not
become established until the 1700's (although it appears
sporadically before that time)."

 

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