From: Edward Wells II <ecw.the.2ndgmail.com>
Subject: Capitalization of the 'I' Pronoun in English
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In my previous submission, I was investigating the lack of capitalization of pronouns in English.
Two other LINGUIST posts examining the topic, as well as expressed interest of a number of individuals prompted me to look closer into the history of the shift from minuscule to capital 'I'.
The two posts can be found here:
Many of the common explanations cite either legibility or pronunciation. However, examination of the texts noted in the previous posts found that English began using the first person pronoun 'i' in the 12th Century, and it was not until the 14th Century that the capitalized form became popular. Another point is that other similar pronunciation changes around the same time were not demarcated with capitalization. While there may never be overwhelming support for any particular explanation, applying our current knowledge of linguistics and historical linguistics seems to supply some striking explanations that have not been commonly acknowledged in the past.
It is likely that numerous reasons played a role in multiple ways and, as a text recently shared by Elyssa Winzeler has done, future reassessment of the significance of any particular reason in any particular instance (geographic location, population group, etc.) within the larger, inclusive shift may be prudent.
To read the working paper at LingForum, please visit this link:
- Insight and data regarding the time required for language changes to spread in 12th century England may be valuable in further assessing the validity of the legibility explanation.
- Insight and data regarding the consistency of the application of particular reasonings in language change would be helpful in determining the significance of inconsistency in regard to discounting an explanation.
- Additional texts that contain instances of capital 'I' from around and before the thirteenth century. (especially if it states the reason the person capitalized 'I')
- Any other relevant information including prominent explanations and support for or detraction from prominent explanations, including those mentioned in the paper.
I look forward to your responses.
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