Spanish “y” (orthography)

elroy

Imperfect mod
US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
Why is the Spanish word “y” (“and”) spelled that way and not “i”? I just realized that — unless I’m missing any — no other Spanish words use <y> for /i/.
 
  • Circunflejo

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Castilla
    I just realized that — unless I’m missing any — no other Spanish words use <y> for /i/.
    Dejando a un lado palabras como hoy, rey, ley... en las que se puede considerar semivocálica, el único ejemplo que me viene a la cabeza es pyme.
    Why is the Spanish word “y” (“and”) spelled that way and not “i”?
    I guess that because back in 1726 the RAE decided to keep y being y when it regulated the use of y and i. Formerly, you could find yglesia and some other spellings no longer used.
     

    Dymn

    Senior Member
    My thinking has always been it's semivocalic or semiconsonantic in so many contexts (either when the last word ends with a vowel or the next one begins with a vowel), that y seems fair enough. Also I find it more aesthetically pleasing.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    It probably has to do with a certain frequency of y being used initially before consonants from the moment it began to replace the & sign by the ending of the 16th century. It can still be seen in surnames (Yglesias, Ybarra) in old spellings of Ysabel, etc.

    It's funny though how it's /i/ in the three main Romance languages of the Peninsula, but with a different spelling in each of them.
     

    S.V.

    Senior Member
    Español, México
    The y in hay used to add 'location', as in il y a (15.6d). As you lose that in Mio Cid (hover & click should work?)

    Fol. 3r - meted ý las fes.jpg

    & our 'and' becomes /i/, it's a matter of a different stroke. :p

    170 - es torpedat e mengua e maldat e villanía.jpg

    Fol. 93v - Caljsto fue de noble ljnaje & de claro yngenjo.jpg(img link > ctrl + F, de claro yngenio)

    Throughout that .pdf, you'd notice the vertical strokes in i, u, m, etc. are a bit straining. So you get centuries of i ~ j ~ y. :p

    118 - seis anillos.jpg
    134 - Vino luego un fraile.jpg
    165 - la mi vieja sabida.jpg
    (e seis anillos, fraile, la mi vieja sabida; .pdf page in name)
     
    Last edited:

    Terio

    Senior Member
    Français (Québec)
    Y is also used to represent [i] in muy. (Though two prononciations co-exist : [mwi] / [muj].)
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Y is also used to represent [i] in muy. (Though two prononciations co-exist : [mwi] / [muj].)

    It just represents [j] there, as in uy, rey, doy, guay, etc. (Exceptions to this are usually placenames Hawái, Hanói... or some foreign words such as bonsái. Some admit both, like samurái/samuray, paipái/paipay, tipói/tipoy, etc.)
     
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