Let's try an experiment
, shall we? Find a nice place to type
-- the Search box
is probably OK, the Chatterbox
probably isn't -- and find the key on your keyboard
the symbols " ~ ^
Exercise 1a: Press the key and then U. What happens?
Probable answer: You get ü.
: Press the key and then SHIFT and U together. What happens?
Probable answer: You get Ü.
: Press the key and then Y. What happens?
Probable answer: You get ÿ.
: Press the key and then SHIFT and Y together. What happens?
The first three will almost certainly work, but the results of the fourth are
highly dependent on your operating system
The technical reason is simple: the character U+0178 LATIN CAPITAL LETTER Y WITH DIAERESIS
, or Ÿ
, is the only instance of a "basic vowel" (aeiouy) with a diaeresis
that is not
included in the 8-bit Latin-1
) character set
found in nearly all modern fonts and computers. Ÿ belongs in Latin Extended-A
, which is very poorly supported by all but the newest operating systems and browsers.
This naturally brings us to the next question: why is it not included in Latin-1,
when äÄ ëË ïÏ üÜ öÖ ÿ all are? Well, if you take a look at the writeup for ÿ, you will find that there are exactly three possible uses for the lower-case version:
- As punctuation in certain obscure proper names in French, such as the surname
L'Haÿ. However, according to French rules, accents (including the diaeresis) are dropped when
capitalizing words, so the name would be capitalized L'HAY; no need
for an upper case version here. (These rules are occasionally ignored though.)
There are no digraphs where Y occurs as the first vowel either.
- As a surrogate for the Dutch IJ ligature &ijlig (ĳ).
However, while the small ligature looks somewhat like ÿ, the capital version not only looks like but is the two ordinary capital letters "IJ" (Ĳ)
- As a zigamorph (delimiter), since ÿ is hex FF, the highest 8-bit value. However, Ÿ is hex 178, which has no special properties.
In other words, there are no
uses for Ÿ. None
This has been the subject of more than a little debate on firstname.lastname@example.org
, and the consensus
seems to be that letter ended up in both Unicode
through bureaucratic incompetence
-- somebody stuck it in for reasons of symmetry
and afterward nobody dared
to try to prove a negative
and lose face.
The E2 search engine treats "ÿ" and "Ÿ" as identical,
so I had to file this writeup under "Ÿ" to make this distinct.