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!

14 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...

I liked this post very much as it has helped me a lot in my research and is quite interesting as well. Thank you for sharing this information with us.

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.

Anonymous said...


Sorry to disturb you with our personal tales. This story has really happened in our life. We are interested in the spiritual life since long back. We have studied primary English, with grammar and we know the nine tenses and some rules of the English language. We have a lot of respect for the English language. We want to bow our head to the divine and pious creator of this spiritually enlightened language. The principles and rules of the language attract us and make us eager to know why ‘I’ is always capital?


Rules of the English Language:
Rule # 1: If you write GOD, ‘G’ is capitalized. Additionally when GOD is referred to in third person as ‘He’ and ‘She’ ‘H’ and ‘S’ are also capitalized.
Rule # 2: ‘I’ is always capital.
Rule # 3: ‘Thou’ is especially reserved respectfully and spiritually for GOD (i.e. GOD may use it for us and we may use it to pray to GOD)
Rule # 4: Singular is only for one person. And any more than one is plural.
Rule # 5: First person is nominative, second person is objective, and third person is possessive.
Rule # 6: If we write our personal name it begins with a capital letter.
Rule # 7: When you start a new sentence the first letter is capital.

These are the rules as we know. We are interested in knowing more rules regarding capitalization and the reason behind it. Since we were thirty or thirty-five we have had this question that why ‘I’ is always capitalized? And we have asked many people and they laugh because that is just how it is and no one was able to answer it. But in Canada on 20th (12:00 PM) 2012 and 21st July (1:00 AM) 2012 we had a divine experience.

Conclusion: Then we came to understand that the ‘I’ which we are using personally, for ourselves is a robbery of the seat and name of the soul and GOD. This robbery has been done because of ignorance and unconsciousness. We have been misusing the seat of ‘I’ through pride and ego. (Once we realized this robbery we thought that transcendence/ liberation was not possible with even the smallest of robberies and this was the incredible theft of the seat of GOD) From the next day we decided that we would return the seat to the Supreme and accepted our seat of plural. We are plural because the body has got so many cells and additionally mind, intellect, conscience, internal senses and ego. In addition to those physical bodily aspects there are also four micro bodies (cellular, molecular etc.) within the physical body. A few days later we felt internally that using ‘we’ for ourselves in the Indian Gujarati Language shows respect for personal self and so we were puzzled and didn’t feel that it was right. So the question arose that would it not be asking for respect then what should be used? ‘I’ or ‘We’? Then …

The messages clicked at different periods in order that:
1. ‘You are not singular’.
2. Creation and creature created by creator is always plural.
3. Creation and creature created by creator is always plural not only in this world but in the whole universe.
4. The only one singular in the whole universe is Supreme GOD and the pure soul.

What we have understood:
Rule # 1: We have experienced that this respect or honour for GOD, a special identification for GOD’s name is not evident in any other language that we know. In fact we think that all letters in ‘GOD’ and any other words used to refer to HIM (e.g. HE, HIS, HIM etc.) should be capitalized as written.

Sincerely,
Messenger