Friday, December 02, 2005

Why is "I" always written with a capital letter?

The first person subject pronoun, "I", is always written in uppercase (majuscule). In French and most other languages it is written just like all the other pronouns. I spent ages this morning (it's my day off) trying to find a decent explanation, without much success. The most common theory is that when the old English "Ich" (like in German) became reduced to "I" it was thought to be too small and insignificant to be a real word and could easily get attached to the end or beginning of another word. So scribes and later printers took the habit of capitalising it. If you have another explanation, let me know. In emails and text messages the lowercase "i" is now becoming common. Personally, i don't approve!

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

woah... i never thought about that before...

Anonymous said...

Very nice! Thank you very much for such information!
(from Brazil)

Anonymous said...

Except that 'ich' in German is not capitalized...

Jonathan Lewis said...

You're absolutely right, and I never said that it was capitalised in German, although in the post I put a capital, which was a mistake!

José Angel said...

Interesting information. "Ich" in German is not written in capital letter, though it is often done that way because that word often goes at the begining of the sentence.

"Ich spreche Spanish, Englisch und ein bischen Deutsch".atign

Anonymous said...

I is capitalized because when it went from ich to i, it was confusing to manuscript writers because i might appear to be attached to a following or preceding word so they capitalized it to make it obvious it's not.

you're welcome

Anonymous said...

Thank you!! Exactly what I needed for my English Essay.

Contacts and Cocktails said...

Hello, as a frenchie I just thought about this question about the I capitalized and I think English and American people have strong "myself". I mean, what is important in life? YOU, what you decide to do, to be, to love etc.

Eugenie said...

The capital "I" always reminds me of the english individualism. If only it was small, the world would have been a better place!

English essay said...

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An English Essay On Boys

Mucka said...

I'm an English native speaker. I don't have any idea why I is capitalised but non-capitalisation is completely wrong.

I must always be capitalised.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this explanation. I teach English as a secod language and was asked this question by a student. I had no idea what to tell him and I'd never thought about it before. I will tell him your answer.

Anonymous said...

* I meant I don't care about your skin colour.