Definition for I


is the ninth letter, and the third vowel of the English Alphabet. We receive it through the Latin and Greek from the Shemitic jod, je, or ye, in Greek ιωτα, whence our English word jot. This vowel in French and in most European languages, has the long fine sound which we express by e in me, or ee in seen, meek. This sound we retain in some foreign words which are naturalized in our language, as in machine, intrigue. But in most English words this long sound is shortened, as in holiness, pity, gift; in which words the sound of i coincides with that of y in hypocrite, and at the end of words, in unaccented syllables, as in holy, glory. It is this short sound of the French and Italian i, which we hear in the pronunciation of been, which we pronounce bin. After l, this letter has sometimes the liquid sound of y, as in million, pronounced milyon. This sound corresponds with that of the Hebrews, as in Joseph, which in Syria is pronounced Yoseph, and with the sound of the German j, as in ja, jahr, that is, ya, yahr. The sound of i long, as in fine, kind, arise, is diphthongal; it begins with a sound approaching than of broad a, but it is not exactly the same, as the organs are not opened to the same extent, and therefore the sound begins a little above that of aw. The sound, if continued, closes with one than nearly approaches to that of e long. This sound can be learned only by the ear. This letter enters into several digraphs, as in fail, field seize, feign, vain, friend; and with o in oil, join, coin, it helps to form a proper diphthong. No English word ends with i, but when the sound of the letter occurs at the end of a word, it is expressed by y; alkali is an exception. As a numeral I signifies one, and stands for as many units as it is repeated in times, as II, two, III, three, &c. When it stands before V or X, it subtracts itself, and the numerals denote one less than the V or the X. Thus IV expresses four, one less than V, five; IX stands for nine, one less than X, ten. But when it is placed after V or X, it denotes the addition of an unit, or as many units as the letter is repeated in times. Thus VI is five and one, or six, and XI is ten and one, or eleven; VIII stands for five and three, or eight, &c. Among the ancient Romans, IƆ stood for 500; CIƆ, for 1000; IƆƆ, for 5000; CCIƆƆ, for 10,000; IƆƆƆ, for 50,000; and; CCCIƆƆƆ for 100,000.

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