Years ago, I had come across an advertisement of Amul Chocolates wherein the cute little Amul girl is featured in a modified version of the Nursery Rhyme ‘Baa, Baa, Black sheep’.
It ran somewhat like this:
Little Maid, Little Maid, Do you have any Amul?
Yes sir, yes sir, full packs three.
One for me, one for myself,
And one for none other than me!
The First Person Singular Number ‘I’ is our most-favoured and most-used pronoun. When someone hands over to another person, a group photograph in which the latter is there, he or she first looks for himself/herself in it, takes a good look, and then only moves to the other faces in it.
And one’s own name is one’s most favourite word.
We are all 'I' specialists.
About a couple of years ago, I came across in The Times of India , a small article by Caroline Winter, reproduced most probably from The New York Times. The writer asks, a thought-provoking question: Why is Capital I used in the First Person Singular?
The writer says that Germans use the respectful Capital Y in ‘You’. The article goes on to say that the Capital I raised its dot-less head first in England. The generally-accepted linguistic explanation, the article states, is that ‘i’ could not stand alone un-capitalised, as a single letter. Charles Bigelow, a type-historian and designer of font families, explains, ”One little letter had to represent an important word but it was too wimpy, graphically speaking, to carry the semantic burden. So the scribes made it bigger, which means taller.”
The writer feels that perhaps our individualistic and workaholic society would be more rooted in community and quality and less focused on money and success if we each thought of ourselves as the small i, with a sweet little dot!
For that matter,users of e-mail are perfectly comfortable dismissing all capital letters and even correct spellings. The writer suggests: You try an experiment to capitalize those whom You address while leaving yourself in the lower case; it would be an humbling experience.
I feel that the writer has a good point. We write “You, he and I” or “You and I”, in that order. We don’t say “I, he and you” or “ I and you.”. ‘I’ always comes last; ‘You’ always comes first. Then why not always use the Capital Y for ‘You’ and the small i for oneself?
However, we may use the Capital I when it is the first letter of a sentence.
The Times of India has been following this practice in its editorial page.
I feel it is a good idea; i shall be happy to know what You feel about it.