Scrabble Letter Y
Originally uploaded by Leo Reynolds

Perhaps because my native language is Danish, where y is a vowel and (almost) never a consonant, I’ve always regarded the English letter as primarily a vowel that can sometimes act as a consonant.

However, native speakers seem to regard it primarily as a consonant.

When Charlotte moved it with me two years ago, she was six years old and had just started in P2. Back then she hadn’t learnt the names of the letters yet and instead called them (with a Scottish accent) /a, b?, ?k?rle k?, d?, ?, f?, ??, h?, ?, d??, ?k?k?n k?, l?, m?, n?, ?, p?, kw?, r?, s?, t?, ?, v?, w?, ks, j?, z?/.

And the daughter of a friend of Phyllis’s parents is called Yvonne /j??v?n/.

John Wells has also picked up on it twice: In “Yngling”, he spotted he pronunciation /?j??l??/ for yngling (the keelboat), and in “Ylang-Ylang”, he had come across /j??læ? j??læ?/ for ylang-ylang.

I wonder whether yttrium is gradually becoming /?j?tri?m/, too. I guess I’ll find out when Marcel starts chemistry next year.