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Old 11-13-2012, 06:27 AM   #56
HarryT
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazella20 View Post
I guess you're right. I've been following this thread hoping for a definite and specific answer but I guess there isn't a real reason behind this. I guess we were just taught to capitalize our I's for no reason.
The Online Etymology Dictionary (a source which I've found to be reliable over the years) has a reasonable explanation:

Quote:
I

12c. shortening of O.E. ic, first person singular nominative 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 *eg-, nominative form of the first person singular pronoun (cf. Skt. aham, Hitt. uk, L. ego (source of Fr. Je), Gk. ego, Rus. ja, Lith. aš). Reduced to i by mid-12c. in northern England, it began to be capitalized mid-13c. to mark it as a distinct word and avoid misreading in handwritten manuscripts.

Quote:
The reason for writing I is ... the orthographic habit in the middle ages of using a 'long i' (that is, j or I) whenever the letter was isolated or formed the last letter of a group; the numeral 'one' was written j or I (and three iij, etc.), just as much as the pronoun. [Otto Jespersen, "Growth and Structure of the English Language," p.233]
The form ich or ik, especially before vowels, lingered in northern England until c.1400 and survived in southern dialects until 18c. The dot on the "small" letter -i- began to appear in 11c. Latin 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.
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