On “I” versus “i” (capitalization of first person pronoun)

By Xah Lee. Date:

Raymond wrote:

… I'd like to point out that in English the subjective form of the first-person pronoun is capitalized. … Why don't you capitalize that pronoun? Wasn't the capitalization of "I" one of the very first things you learned when you began to learn English…

Because i feel it is redundant. The only good reason to cap I is for convention and tradition, and i snub tradition or convention when they snub logic and efficiency.

Actually, not because i feel it is redundant. But because it is redundant, period. The “I Feel” there is just a manner of expression by convention. In this case, a hint of politeness. Oh and, the “period” there is redundant too; being a manner of speaking so to speak, technically a idiom, which indicates emphasis but i digress. (and, btw, the “emphasis, digress” is a figure of speech, called alliteration.)

Of course, if we delve deeper into the issue, the other reason is because this unconventionality fits me. In other words, as we can see, languages are tools of communication not in as much as for communicating what we consider content, but also manners and attitudes aside from a host of other things implicit among which demeanor or bearing. So when one sees that i use i as opposed to I, the syntactical incorrectness isn't focal, but a attitude, in this case, a willful one.

The first time when i ran into writings that consistently used lower case i is when back in the early 1990s on CompuServe online math forum there's this mathematician woman from UK (Marijke Van Gans). I found it very annoying and the idiosyncratic little “i” impeded my reading, and my thought was that there is no reason to break the convention and one should not act weird just so one can stand out. That was when i was a know-nothing brat and meanwhile am eagerly learning things and am fairly conformal. At the time nor do i have any inkling why “i” is capitalized in the first place.

The second time i saw consistent use of “i” is in late 1990s by programer(s) on computing forums. (in particular, Erik Naggum) By the late 1990s, the ease of not having to type a Shift Key as extra to produce the letter “i” and by the grassroots power of programers by the auspice of the internet boom, have contributed to a lot lower case i then. Perhaps around 2000 i myself started to do away with pressing the Shift Key in emails and forum posts. By this time the lower case i no longer impedes readings due to accustomedness. In formal writings i would absolutely revert to I as i would feel ashamed and a fool if i were to write i instead of I because there is still a sense of I being “correct” or “educated” somehow.

Starting about 2000, for some personal reasons i started to learn tremendously of issues and businesses related to the human animals, of which i was rather quite ignorant of anything outside of mathematics and the sciences and technologies. I started to learn about economics, anthropology, futurism, and all sorts of other miscellaneous things about cultures, behaviors, psychology, society. Among which is more understanding towards social linguistics about why languages evolve the way they do and how human animals use their languages. And from these collective learnings -- however comparatively insignificant with respect to the various respective experts -- combined with my eminent knowledge of symbolic logic and math things, on the issue of “i versus I” i have become firm about the uselessness of its capitalization. Even in formal writings, the need to press the Shift Key to produce capital I somehow is eroded by laziness, habitualness, and a increasing sense of its folly.

Today, there are a few reasons for me to use lower case i. For one thing, it is no-nonsense typing. For another, it snubs academicians and grammarians and conventions and traditions like a giant neon sign. It is a good setup for me to lash out at unwary pedants on almost assuredly their ignorance of logic and linguistics and syntax and semantics and a host and shades of theories related to communication. For another, it is more logical and sound, all things considered, and i believe it should be practiced so. (future linguistic historians out there: don't forget where you read it first)

O, wiles and arts, how beautiful art thee.

Convenient Wikipedia link: I .