Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Sometimes Y

Y isn't like the rest of the letters. They all know their purpose, but not Y. Y is in a category all of its own, an outcast. But why?

Because Y swings both ways.

Yes, C may have identity issues, unsure if it wants to be a nice soft S or a cold hard K, but Y is the only letter that can switch teams completely. It'll be a vowel one moment, a consonant the next; it all depends on context. Y is the alphabetic equivalent of baseball's utility man, working hard to fill whatever need arises, and never getting full credit. It's the underpaid character surviving by working both a consonant full-time job and a temporary one. It's the bit player there in support of the main cast, able to go from young man to small boy with one quick change.

You might think the vowel form of Y could easily be replaced with I, but that's a naïve assumption: Change by to bi (or Candy to Candi) and suddenly it seems more promiscuous.1 Besides, would you really want to fly through the ski, or have some small bites of data? Probably not, unless you're a masochistic robot. Not to mention, the list of most popular baby names is proof that many people prefer Y to I.2 The names with two Y's may not be too wise, but who am I to judge?3

There's nothing wrong with Y. It may be a little different, but it deserves to stay. After all, it's got rhythm. Who could ask for anything more?

1 Even though Y's the one that gets around.
2 As do I, in most instances. For instance, I still remember the solution to a puzzle from the 1990s computer game The 7th Guest. The trick was to rearrange the letters BCGHLLLMPPPRRRSSSSSTTTYYYYYYYYYYY into a sentence. The (peculiar, yet somewhat elegant) answer? Shy gypsy, slyly, spryly, tryst by my crypt.
3 I'm Nate, and I would be a brutal but fair judge. For instance, I would make sure that anyone who tried to name their kid something like Caytlyn or Dylyn or Evylyn would be exycutyd.

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh and seven others. Go check out the other participants!


  1. You had me at that baseball reference. Y definitely deserves more credit.

  2. Why ask why about why Y has to constantly switch teams? Better to just go with the flow on this matter and hope that Y will understand itself better in the future.

  3. Hehehee. Y swings both ways. Too funny!

    Ellie Garratt

  4. *giggles* Love that 'i is more promiscuous' This was a great post!

  5. Very funny! Always an interesting perspective, seeing the world through your eyes. Love that, exycutyd. I definitely think one y is enough for a name. Great Y post!

  6. Y is a switch hitter. Now, that was terrific fun!

  7. Karen: I always try, but Y's too much of a yes-man to take the credit for himself.

    Jeffrey: You're right. Y needs to understand itself before it can ever truly open up to everyone else.

    Angela: I just try to tell it like it is. :)

    Ellie: Thanks! Though you know, I'm glad things are never literally too funny. I prefer "dying laughing" to remain a figure of speech...

    Hart: Was there ever any doubt i was the sordid one of the bunch, what with it always being dotted with hearts?

    Heather: Thanks! I figure my brain is like one of those freaks of nature at the circus; everyone should be allowed to have a peek.

    Mary: Yep, Y can adapt to whatever we throw its way. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  8. I look at Y in the way that Wheel of Fortune lays it out for me. Y is a tricky one, but I view it as a consonant even when it's supposed to be a vowel. And I definitely had the conversation of Y and I names with a co-worker the other day. Everything with a Y seems to be a stripper!