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I, i (spoken: [ ʔiː ]) is the ninth letter of the classical and modern Latin alphabet . It is a vowel (although it can be pronounced consonant under certain conditions). The letter I has an average frequency of 7.55 percent in German texts. This makes it the third most common letter in German texts .

Letter I in the finger alphabet

The finger alphabet for the deaf and hard of hearing represents the letter I by stretching the little finger upwards with a closed fist with the thumb in front of it .


Arm or hand (protosinaitic) Phoenician Heth Greek iota Etruscan I. Latin I
Arm or hand (protosinaitic) Phoenician yodh Greek iota Etruscan I. Latin I

In the Protosinaitic script , the letter represents the symbol for a hand with one arm. Already in this alphabet a start was made to simplify the symbol so that in part only the flexion of the arm and the outline of the hand are recognizable. In the Phoenician alphabet , the letter had the name Yodh (hand / arm) and stood for the semiconsonant [j] (as in j ung).

In the Greek alphabet , the yodh was adopted as iota . The Greeks changed the sound value of the letter because of their language rich in vowels, it now stood for [i]. Already in the early Greek alphabet from the 7th century BC. BC the iota lost all attachments and became a simple vertical line.

Neither in the Etruscan nor in the Latin alphabet was the letter significantly changed, the sound value [i] was retained.

I longa

The I longa , an I extended beyond the line, was first used in Latin since the Sullan period to identify the long-spoken sound ī versus short ĭ : felc ꟾ, vcus . In the course of the imperial era this graphic distinction was lost and the I longa was used as a rarer variant for every i , sometimes also preferred for the consonant between vowels : eus , eius .

In Unicode , the character is encoded as U + A7FE LATIN EPIGRAPHIC LETTER I LONGA .

The i point

The i point is usually a small filled circle, but it can also be adapted to the style of the respective font . In terms of visual appearance, its width corresponds roughly to that of the trunk of the small "i", whereby it is optically adapted accordingly. Special forms such as line-shaped, ring-shaped or heart-shaped i-dots appear especially in manuscripts. The big I has no point.

The history of the i-point is explained in Grimm's dictionary :

“As for the minuscule, it was i until the 11th century. written without lines or punctures. It was only then that people started to use accents to denote istrics that came together in order to avoid confusion. (...) as early as the 12th century. the little dash sometimes appears above the individual í next to it, but i still frequently appear without a dashed line and are not uncommon in older hss. similar lines were added later. the little dash continued to become the long common punct, but there are hardly any punctures above the i (...) before 1350. "

- German dictionary, vol. 4,2 (1877), col. 2013

Colloquially it is also referred to as the i-tüpfel or i-tüpfelchen and in Austria as i-tüpferl . In a figurative sense, “to put the point on something” means to complete or refine it; if someone does this compulsively, he becomes a potty rider or pisser.

In typography , the i point is often omitted when ligatures are formed with preceding letters, e.g. B. the fi ligature. In this example, the upper serif of the f merges with the i point of the subsequent i.

i point and diacritical marks

If the i is a diacritical mark (z. B. Acute , Gravis , Trema , etc.) is set, eliminating the i-point. An i with a trema is therefore written with two superpositions (ï), not three.

Examples are: boîte ( fr. ), Río ( span. ) Lunedì ( it. ), Égoïste ( fr. ), ISS ( lett. ,) Peteĩ ( grn. ).

ı without a point

Iı İi

In most languages, the dot on the lowercase i is an integral part of the letter with no special meaning. In some languages, however, including Turkish and Azerbaijani , İ, i (each with a dot) and I, ı (each without a dot) stand for two different sounds.

The named HTML character entities are & Idot; for the large İ with period and & inodot; for the small ı without a point.

The I in German spelling

The long spoken I

In the German language, a long spoken I is usually marked with ie (in the interior of the word and in the final word of functional words): love, meadow, goal, rail, beast, die, sie, wie . If a [ə] follows in extensions, a fugue-h is used: Cattle, pull, neigh, borrow . The expansion h of other basic forms is retained: steal - steals .

For reasons of written history, there is no ie at the beginning of the word . You just write “i”: Igel, Isegrim , Ibis . In a few cases one uses a stretching h that is otherwise only found with the other vowels before l, m, n, r : him, him, her, Ihle .

In foreign words, i is the regular spelling for long i: machine, motive, return, intimate, silo, visa . Only in very specific cases comes ie before: the verbs on -ieren end, in most words on -ier (piano, manners, paper) , in a few words on -ies (Paradise, Portuguese) and (in Parallel zu -ee ) quite regularly in words that end in a long stressed i (industry, biology, direction, mania, part, ...) . it only occurs very rarely in foreign words ( Schlemihl ) .

The elongation i

Rarely and only regionally in proper names or place names, the “i” following an “o” indicates the stretching of the preceding vowel. This (Westphalian) expansion-i occurs mainly in the Rhineland and the Lower Rhine, z. B. in the place names Troisdorf , Grevenbroich or Korschenbroich .

The double i

Double-i (i.e. ii) only occurs in foreign-language proper names such as Niigata or Hawaii (actually Hawaiʻi ), in compound words (e.g. party interests ), in German words with the suffix -ig, -in and -isch (e.g. . pulpy ), in foreign words with the prefix anti (e.g. anti-imperialism ) and in foreign words with the suffix -ieren (e.g. vary ). The two i are pronounced separately from each other ( i.e. ii ).


“I, the highest among the vocals, (...) is naively described by ICKELSAMER (...). After he has indicated how the e is produced, he says: so also the i, only with a narrower definition of the scene, which is more exactly the same as the sound of the pig when one stabs or strangles it. (...) "

Occurrence of the i in brand and product names

Some companies name their consumer electronics products with a small i at the beginning or end. Apple established the name with the iMac introduced in 1998 and since the appearance of the iPod (2001) has almost consistently marked its multimedia products with this lower case letter at the beginning of the product name. Examples from other companies include “ iGoogle ” and “ iRobot ”. This use of the "i" can also be found outside of the IT sector.

See also

Web links

Commons : I  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: I  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: i  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Manu Leumann: Latin phonetics and forms. Beck, Munich 1977, ISBN 3-406-01426-7 , § 13.