Re: Dutch IJ & the austrian stamp's encoding

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Fri Jan 20 2006 - 14:19:20 CST

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    From: "Jeroen Ruigrok/asmodai" <>

    > -On [20060118 01:36], André Szabolcs Szelp ( wrote:
    >>it indicates, that two glyphs for one grapheme (an not
    >>ligature, and that's exactly what the Dutch IJ is:
    >>a single grapheme, and in fact not a ligature),
    > IJ evolved as a ligature from ii. The j was a long drawn i to make sure it
    > became more readable. I wonder where you get the idea from that it is NOT a
    > ligature.

    Double "ii" also exists in French, mostly for most conjugated verbs (regular or not) at the (quite common) imperfect (progressive past) tense, with the first and second plural pronoun:

    * "Nous vérifiions", "vous vérifiiez" (from regular infinitive verb "vérifier" in the 1st group ending in "-ier")

    With handwritten script, the double "ii" cannot be distinguished visually from "ü" (but u with diaeresis is very rare in French, and even more since the new 1990 orthograph that also deprecated almost all occurences of "ű" and "î", and because "ü" mostly occurs before a second vowel to avoid interpreting it as a common digraph denoting another phonem, and the new orthograph migrated the diaeresis to over the second vowel notably when this second vowel is a silent "e" such as a feminine mark).

    But are there historic examples where such glyphic variation of the double i (which is necessary to note the longer i phonem that allows the distrinction from the present tense on regular verbs such as above) where the second i used a long leg, possibly written like in Dutch with "ij" ?

    I don't think so, because "j", once it was introduced as a helpful visual distinction from "i" and regularized in French, always designated unambiguously the consonnantal /j/, not any long vowel or semi-vowel.

    But some French people emphasise the double "ii" in speach by pronouncing like if it was "yi" or "iyi", so there may exist cases using the "˙" (y with diaeresis, not the german umlaut) glyphic variant.

    I'm not sure whever the extremely rare single letter "˙" persists now in French only because it was made part of proper names written on books, letters, and later interpreted on road indicators, buildings, notably for some famous person or city names, with an initial origin like a double "ii" always emphasized in speach as "yi" or "iyi" during some significant period.

    I'd bet that the theorization of the conjugation for the largest group of regular verbs in French has favored not altering the second "i", but the regular verbs in the 1st group include some subgroups where the regular conjugated termination implies the mutation of some final letters of the verb radical, so if a visual distinction was made,it would more probably be the mutation of the first i into a long-leg i,making it look more like "ji" (or mirrored "j" followed by "i") than like "ij" in Dutch and Flemish.

    This seems coherent with the way some people handwrite the verbs like "écriviions" in handwritten cursive style: the first i is either truncated from its right joining arc to the baseline, the second i is written like an initial i (without the left joining arc). In some occurences, the first i still keeps a part of its left joining stem, but it falls below the baseline or slightly curves under the second i (which uses its initial form). With such glyphic variant, there's no confusion with "ü" (where the two vertical stems are equal in size always above the baseline and joined with a connecting horizontal arc on the baseline.)

    But it isstill important to remember that the dot above i was introducedfirst to allow helpful visual distinction between "ii" and "u", and "u" initially had no dots or diaresis above. So the visual distinction between "ii" and "ü" would be almost never useful, given that "ü" is extremely rare in French (and now its diaeresis is deprecated in almost all cases).

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