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The Y-key to the English Ego-Pronouns Joannes Richter
Fig. 1: The Claudian letters
The Claudian letters from Wikipedia Claudius1
According to Morris Swadesh2 the most important of all words is the personal pronoun of the first person singular3. One of the first genuine English Ego-pronouns is the capitalized word “Y”, which has been used by Wycliffe between 1382 and 1395. In an analysis The Wycliffe Bible4 I already noted the peculiar use of a upper case letter for the word Y and noted the strange graphical construct of a female “V”symbol located over the male “I”. After some months I suddenly found some more evidence in Suetonius5' De Vita Caesarum6, a set of biographies of twelve successive Roman rulers, from Julius Caesar to Domitian. The Twelve Caesars is considered very significant in antiquity and remains a primary source on Roman history. Suetonius describes Claudius' invention of three new letters Y, Ↄ and V and added them to the alphabet, maintaining that they were greatly needed. He published a book on their theory when he was still in private life, and when he became emperor had no difficulty in bringing about their general use. Of course Wycliffe (c. 1328 – 1384) knew the work of Suetonius and he may have known the work of Claudius as well. He may have understood the symbolism of the sound between u and i and the androgynous creation legends. Did he redesign a new religious concept by choosing the Y-letter as a new Ego-pronoun in English?
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This image is in the public domain because it is an SVG representation of an ancient script. in his Swadesh-lists (1940) Shortened to Ego-pronoun Published 12 / 24 / 2010 Suetonius (ca. 69/75 – after 130), was a Roman historian literal translation: On the Life of the Caesars
Some evidence may be found in the strange androgynous Y-Symbol for Albert Magnus (1193 – 1280) found in an ancient manuscript (published 1617), which may be interpreted as a androgynous symbol related to Hermes, Mercury and Hermaphrodite – the ancient bisexual deities. In Ancient Greece, Hermes was a phallic god of boundaries. His name, in the form herma, was applied to a wayside marker pile of stones; each traveller added a stone to the pile. The discovery of the correlation between the ancient Ego-pronoun Y and Claudius' invention, the interpretation of U/I-combination in the Occitan Ego-pronoun iéu7 and the Y-Symbol for Albert Magnus are indicating a religious symbolism in the letter Y and the ancient English Ego-pronoun Y, which still must be considered as the root for the modern Ego-pronoun “I”8.
The Life of Claudius
In Suetonius' De Vita Caesarum, written 121 AD, the biography of Claudius 9 contains some indications to the introduction and use of the letter “Y” in Roman scripture. Claudius was the brother of Germanicus, the father of Caligula. We learn from Suetonius that Claudius was the first Roman commander to invade Britain since Julius Caesar a century earlier. Suetonius paints Claudius as a ridiculous figure, belittling many of his acts and attributing his good works to the influence of others
In the translation10 we may find the relevant (highlighted yellow below) quotation in chapter 41 of The Life of Claudius: 41 He began to write a history in his youth with the encouragement of Titus Livius101 and the direct help of Sulpicius Flavius. But when he gave his first reading to a large audience, he had difficulty in finishing, since he more than once threw cold water on his own performance. For at the beginning of the reading the breaking down of several benches by a fat man raised a laugh, and even after the disturbance was quieted, Claudius could not keep from recalling the incident and renewing his guffaws. 2 Even while he was emperor he wrote a good deal and gave constant recitals through a professional reader.102 He began his history with the death of the dictator Caesar, but passed to a later period and took a fresh start at the end of the civil war, realising that he was not allowed to give a frank or true account of the earlier times, since he was often taken to task both by his mother and his grandmother.103 p77 He left two books of the earlier history, but forty-one of the later. 3 He also composed an autobiography in eight books, lacking rather in good taste than in style, as well as a "Defence of Cicero against the Writings of Asinius Gallus," a work of no little learning. Besides this he invented three new letters and added them to the alphabet, maintaining that they were greatly needed;10411 he published a book on their theory when he was still in private life, and when he became emperor had no difficulty in bringing about their general use. These characters may still be seen in numerous books, in the daily gazette,105 and in inscriptions on public buildings.
7 For I am Diéu, and not iéu; the Holy One (é) in the midst of iéu; 8 The Hermetic Codex 9 reigned 41–54 10 Suetonius: The Lives of the Twelve Caesars published in the Loeb Classical Library, 1914 – public domain 11 These were the Y, to represent the sound between u and i in maxumus, maximus, etc.; Ↄ, for the sound of bs as ps; and V for the consonant version of the letter u.
The Claudian letters
Fig. 2: The Claudian letters
The Claudian letters from Wikipedia Claudius12
Wikipedia's Claudian letters claims: Claudius proposed a reform of the Latin alphabet by the addition of three new letters, two of which served the function of the modern letters W and Y. In his concept the turned F (digamma inversum) designed a V to represent consonantal U (W/V). A half H was used to represent the so called sonus medius, a short vowel sound between U and I before labial consonants in Latin words such as optumus/optimus, later used as a variant of y in inscriptions for Greek upsilon (as in Olympicus). A reversed C (antisigma) was used to replace BS and PS, much like X stood in for CS and GS. The appearance of this letter is disputed, however, since no inscription bearing it has been found.
A sound between U and I
Now the most important of these three letters is the Y, which according to Loeb's footnote is used to represent the sound between u and i in maxumus, maximus, etc.; In footnote to A copious Latin grammar: Volume 1 - page 10913 the effect is being described as a minor “error”: b) for optimus, pessimus, minimus, maximus, we find even in the best writers optumus, pessumus, minumus, maxumus, — as decimus decumus. A missing interpretation for the the sound between u and i indicates that the original work as written by Claudius to explain his theory for the three letters had been lost. To my opinion however detecting a sound intermediate between U and I however suggests to consider the character Y as an androgynous, religious symbol in which the female letter U has been placed over the male symbol I.
12 This image is in the public domain because it is an SVG representation of an ancient script. 13 Immanuel Johann Gerhard Scheller, George Walker - 1825 - Vollständige Ansicht
Claudius' idea to use a V for the consonant U
Claudius' idea to use a V for the consonant U must also be considered as a religious concept. In ancient eras the vowels were to be considered as sacred symbols in contrast to the consonants. It must have been a sacrilege to intermix the “profane” U and the “sacred” vowel V. In the meantime however we are using a vowel U and a consonant V. Up to now I did not find any religious symbolism in the third letter Ↄ, for the sound of bs as ps, but the Ↄ may also have been designed for a special religious purpose. I analyzed the novel “I, Claudius by Robert Graves” (published 1934) for some clue for Claudius' ideas. Although I knew it may be phantasy I figured out the author might be correct in his derivations, which are documented in chapter 17 on page 79 of the web-document. Claudius is thought to have tried to make Latin truly phonetic. “Speaking of the alphabet, I was interested at this time in a simple plan for making Latin truly phonetic. It seemed to me that three letters were missing. These three were consonantal U to distinguish it from U, the vowel; a letter to correspond to the Greek Upsilon (which is a vowel between Latin I and U) for use in Greek words which have become Latinized; and a letter to denote the double consonant which we now write in Latin as BS but pronounce like the Greek Psi. It was important, I wrote, for provincials learning Latin to learn it correctly; if the letters did not correspond to the sound how could they avoid mistakes in pronunciation? So I suggested, for consonantal U, the upside down F 14 (which is used for that purpose in Etruscan): thus LAɟINIA instead of LAUINIA; and a broken H for Greek Upsilon: thus B├BLIOTHECA instead of BIBLIOTHECA; and an upside down 15 C for BS: thus AƆQUE for ABSQUE. The last letter was not so important, but the other two seemed to me essential, I suggested the broken H and the upside-down F and C because these would cause the least trouble to the men who use letter-punches for metal or clay: they would not have to make any new punches. I published the book and one or two people said that my suggestions were sensible; but of course it had absolutely no result. My mother told me that there were three impossible things in the world; that shops should stretch across the bay from Baiae to Puteoli, that I should subdue the island of Britain, and that any one of these absurd new letters would ever appear on public inscriptions in Rome. I have always remembered this remark of hers, for it had a sequel.” No religious background is being suggested for a vowel Y between Latin I and U. It was used to transcribe loanwords from Greek, so it was not a native sound of Latin and was usually pronounced /u/ or /i/, to transcribe the so-called sonus medius (a short vowel before labial consonants), but in inscriptions was sometimes used for Greek upsilon instead.
Of course Wycliffe (c. 1328 – 1384) knew the important work of Suetonius and he may have known the work of Claudius as well. He may have understood the symbolism of the sound between u and i and the androgynous creation legends. Did he redesign a new religious concept by choosing the Yletter as a new Ego-pronoun in English? Religious symbolism would also explain why the English Ego-pronouns Y and I have been written as capitals. Wycliff's Y denotes the androgynous and the modern pronoun I refers to the male symbolism.
14 By a lack of a capital letter F I used the best fit lower case symbol f. 15 This obviously must be a 180° rotated letter C.
In Wyclif's Bible the personal pronoun of the first person singular has been defined as an upper case character “Y”. An example may be found in Hosea 11-9:
9 Y schal not do the strong veniaunce of my wraththe. Y schal not turne, to leese Effraym; for Y am God, and not man. Y am hooli in the myddis of thee, and Y schal not entre in to a citee. In Hosea 11-9 the personal pronoun of the first person singular has been defined as “Y” instead of the modern “I”. The word “Y” correlates to the Spanish word “yo”17.
Upper Case Characters
It has been suggested the English people capitalize “I” to highlight the “I”-pronoun against a lower case “i”. This may be a good argument for an “i”, but there is no good reason to capitalize “Y” to highlight the “Y”-pronoun against a lower case “y”. The Spanish word “y”, representing “and” has not been written in capital letters as well. Capitalizing “Y” may have been selected to symbolize divine concept in the “Y”-character.
Androgynous symbols in characters18
It must be noted the “Y”-character graphically consists of character “V”, respectively “U” located on top of an “I”. Combining a female “U”/”V” and a male “I”-character will result in an androgynous “UI”- or “VI”combination, representing a divine symbol. Did the authors of Wyclif's Bible in analogy to Occitan language encode the hieroglyphs I and U in the Ego-Pronoun “Y”?
Occitan usually applies the Ego-pronoun ieu19, respectively iu along with the Creator God Dieu, Diu. In these cases we will note the remarkable inclusion of the Ego-pronoun ieu inside the Creator God's name Dieu, respectively the inclusion of the Ego-pronoun iu inside the Creator God's name Diu. Occitan is a Romance language spoken in Southern France, the Occitan Valleys of Italy, Monaco, and in Val d'Aran in Catalonia, Spain, the regions sometimes known informally as Occitania. It is also spoken in a linguistic enclave of Guardia Piemontese 20. The languages, as spoken in early medieval times, might be considered variant forms of the same language. The term Provencal is often used to refer to Occitan. In Occitan symbolism “for Y am God, and not man. Y am hooli in the myddis of thee” would express: For I am Diéu, and not iéu; the Holy One (é) in the midst of iéu; In analogy to Occitan the English pronoun “Y” obviously symbolizes iéu by interpreting “Y” as an
16 17 18 19 Book Osee in Wyclif's Bible to be translated as the pronoun “I” Analysis from The Wycliffe Bible One of the most marvelous applications of these words are to be found in Frédéric Mistral 's Occitan epic Mirèio (1859). 20 Calabria, Italy
assembly of elementary u and i-symbols. This interpretation allows us to understand the symbolism in the “Y”-pronoun in medieval English. Now let us analyze some of the androgynous encodings in the Book Genesis.
Androgynous Y-Symbol for Albert Magnus21
Fig. 3: Y-Symbol for Albertus Magnus (1617) This work describes 12 alchemists, each of them carrying their typical symbols: Hermes, und Mary from Judea- Democrit from Greece, Morienus from Rome, der Avicenna from Persia, Albertus Magnus from Germany. At the bottom line Arnoldus von Villanova from France, Thomas of Aquin from Italy, Raymundus Lullus, from Spain , Roger Bacon, from England, Melchior Cibinensis from Hungary and an anonymous Sarmate (from Poland or Russia). The sixth book introduces Albertus Magnus22, who meets an androgynous couple carrying a character Y. The symbolism of this depiction however is unknown to me, but may be interpreted as an explanation of the Y-character as an androgynous symbol. The book reveals the following introduction: Symbola aureae mensae duodecim nationum, hoc est Hermaea seu Mercurii festa ab heroibus duodenis selectis, artis chymicae usu, sapientia et authoritate paribus celebrata, ad Pyrgopolynicen seu adversarium illum tot annis jactabundum, virgini Chemiae injuriam argumentis tam vitiosis quam convitiis argutis inferentem, confundendum et exarmandum, artifices vero optime de ea meritos suo honori et famae restituendum. Frankfurt a. M: Lucas Jennis, 1617.
21 Symbola aureae mensae duodecim nationum by Michael Maier - typis Antonij Hummij, impensis Lucae Iennis, 1617 - 621 Seiten 22 1193/1206 – 1280, depicted at page 262 in Symbola aureae mensae duodecim nationum
Albertus Magnus, O.P. (1193 – November 15, 1280), also known as Albert the Great and Albert of Cologne, was a Dominican friar and a bishop, who achieved fame for his comprehensive knowledge of and advocacy for the peaceful coexistence of science and religion. Contemporaries such as Roger Bacon applied the term "Magnus" to Albertus during his own lifetime, referring to his immense reputation as a scholar and philosopher.
Dyaus and other Y-centered words
First of all the Y-symbol as defined by Claudius must be considered as a vowel. In the chapter “Vowels and Tones” of The Mystery of the Seven Vowels by Joscelyn Godwin (1991) it is explained that the Greek alphabet did not have seven vowels until classical times: upsilon and omega were formally adopted only in 403 B.C.E. Greek originally had five vowels, like the Minoan Linear B script and the Phoenician alphabet (following modern authorities rather than Fabre d'Olivet). There may even have been less vowels before: the three basic elements I, A and U23. Vowel A I U E O AE OO Y adopted in 403 B.C.E. (Greece) adopted in 403 B.C.E. (Greece), introduced in Latin by Claudius (40 AD) Table 1: Vowels Male symbol Female symbol, defined as a vowel in Latin by introducing the consonant V (Claudius, 40 AD) Central vowel for the Apollo temple in Delphi Note
I analyzed some words using a typical androgynous Y-symbol, symbolizing either a U or an I. The Indo-European sky-god's name Dyaus may be considered as a candidate, forking into a Spanish Dios-branch and a German Duis-branch. Other words with a typical bivalent Y-symbol are: Olympic, Psyche, Byblos, Byble (at least in the edition of 1585 – London).
23 On the Symbolism of the Vowels A... E ... I... 0 ... U … and The Sacred Vowels in Pronouns - notes to “The Mystery of the Seven Vowels” (1991) Joscelyn Godwin
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