I&i

Caroline Winter writes in the Times today about the idiosyncratic use of the majuscule “I” in the English language. (She neglects to note that we also capitalize the name of our language, which is unusual, though not as singular as our I.)

At the end, she recommends that we try an experiment: capitalizing “You” and writing “i” with a “sweet little dot.” I do try to think about how i use language–I decided in grad school to forego “he” except in the case where the subject is male, for example–but her suggestion that lowering i and capitalizing You might be a “humbling experience” strikes me as wrong. As she rightly notes, students seem prone not to capitalize the first-person pronoun in their emails, and so that piece of it might be sloppy. But more importantly, changing a language that has evolved over centuries to your own whim, while it may be fun, interesting, and potentially enlightening, is anything but humble.

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