It is not common practice in many languages to capitalize I, despite the fact that native English speakers may consider it to be second nature. In point of fact, only the English language is capable of doing so.
The capitalization of the letter “I” probably comes from the fact that lowercase “i” may have been difficult to read. It may also have been capitalized to give emphasis to the writer.
Only English requires that the personal pronoun be capitalized; other Germanic and Romantic languages follow some conventions for capitalizing proper nouns, such as Germany (in German) and Place de la Concorde (in French). However, English is the only language that insists on capitalizing the pronoun. Continue reading further to learn more about this unique English language rule.
The History Behind Capitalizing the ‘I’
As it turns out, this particular gathering was more of a coincidence than anything else. Ic was a more common spelling of the word for “I” in Old and Middle English when it was more closely related to its ich form in German. At this stage, the term did not have any capital letters in front of it. However, over time the pronunciation shifted, and so did the spelling, which resulted in the loss of the sound C.
At first, the new letter I was not capitalized when it appeared in the text. When Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales in the late 1300s, the personal pronoun I was already a little bit longer than its lowercase equivalent. This was the case when Chaucer penned the tales. After that point, it was frequently written with full capital letters.
Reason Why ‘I’ is Always Capitalized
It’s hard to believe, but back when Chaucer wrote, there was no standard way to capitalize words in the English language. It was normal practice for a long time to combine uppercase and lowercase characters inside a single word, with the latter being employed to emphasize the former. Historians today believe that there were two contributing elements to the practice of capitalizing the letter I:
A Lowercase ‘i’ Is Hard to Read
Charles Bigelow, the man responsible for designing the fonts Lucida and Wingdings, was quoted as saying, “Graphically, single letters are a difficulty. They provide the impression of having been severed from a word, becoming disoriented, or being involved in some other kind of mishap. One approach to indicate that a letter is intended to be read on its own is to write it with all capital letters.
Uppercase ‘I’ Signifies the Importance of The Writer
The personal pronoun “I” has been capitalized because this practice lends additional gravitas to the characterization of the individual who is doing the writing. Some languages do uppercase various pronouns, including you.