Y—Ý

Y is of later origin, and only found in derived words, being an ‘umlaut’ from u, (y from u, ý from ú); in the Runic alphabet it is placed at the end, and marked ᛨ, see Skálda (ii. 72); it is there called ýr, a yew-tree,—ýr er vetrgræast viða, ‘ýr’ is the ‘winter-greenest’ of trees, Runic poem.

B. The independent sound of y, ý is now lost in Icel., being replaced respectively by the sounds i, í, whereas in mod. Dan., Swed. and Norse the old sound has been preserved; the old Icel. MSS., as well as the rhymes in old poems, distinguish both, except in a few instances, see Gramm. p. xxxv, col. 2 (η). The change from y to i seems to have begun about the time of the Reformation, but in the first printed books, e. g. the N. T. of 1540 and the Bible of 1584, the distinction is still well kept, the remembrance of the old form and etymology being then still alive. Later, the writing became very confused. Some transcribers of the 17th century, e. g. Ketil Jörundsson, a noted copier of old vellums, took the better course, never writing y at all, but i throughout; the same may be observed in the handwriting of some Icelanders down to the present day. In printed books of the 17th and 18th centuries the confusion is great, till of late an accurate spelling has been re-established, though even this fails in a few words; e. g. the ancients spell þrysvar, gymbr, qq. v.; the mod. þrisvar, gimbr. The poets of the last three centuries make i and y, ei and ey rhyme indifferently, according to the usage of the living tongue. II. an initial v is dropped before y, as in yndi, yrði, yrkja, etc.

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