Is the letter Y a vowel or a consonant?
July 18, 2007 10:55pm CST
In terms of sound, a vowel ia a speech sound which is produced by comparatively open configuration of the vocal tract, with vibration of the vocal cords but within audible friction. While a consonant is a basic speech sound in which the breath is at least partly obstructed. So, is it a vowel or consonant?
23 Jul 07
Note that vowels are pronounced with free-flowing breath: Aaaaa;Eeee;Oooo;Iiiii; and Uuuuuu. Consonants, on the other hand, have a distinct beginning or end. They are sharply begun or sharply finished. For example: B,D,K,P,S,T,X and so on. There is a distinction in consonants, a harder edge than the soft and flowing vowels. The vowels reveal the tender you, your love, caring and vulnerability. Consonants reveal certain of your characteristics that among other things, shield your more vulnerable parts. The vowels are A,E,I,O,U. All other letters are consonants, except, in some cases the letter Y. The letter Y is inherently vacillating in its nature and usage, and consequently is sometimes a vowel, sometimes a consonant, depending upon how it is used in the name. When determining if the Y is a vowel or a consonant, the basic rule is this: When the letter serves as a vowel, and in fact sounds like one, it is a vowel. The same is true when the Y serves as the only vowel in the syllable. Examples of both of these cases are such names as Lynn, Yvonne, Mary, Betty, Elly, and Bryan. However, if the Y does not provide a separate vowel sound, as when it is coupled with another vowel, it is considered consonant. In names such as Maloney or Murray, the Y is a consonant, because the vowel sound depends upon the long E in Maloney and long A in Murray. In general, the Y is a consonant when the syllable already has a vowel. Also, the Y is considered a consonant when it is used in place of the soft J sound, such as in the name Yolanda or Yoda. In the names Bryan and Wyatt, the Y is vowel, because it provides the only vowel sound for the first syllable of both names. For both names, the letter A is part of the second syllable, and therefore does not influence the nature of the Y. More examples: In Sydney, the first Y is a vowel, the second Y is a consonant In Billy, Sylvia, Missy, Kyle, the Y is a vowel In Kay, Yeltsin, May, the Y is a consonant. (Excerpt from the book Numerology;Key to Your Inner Self)
19 Jul 07
Yes, the letter Y is a vowel or a consonant! In terms of sound, a vowel is 'a speech sound which is produced by comparatively open configuration of the vocal tract, with vibration of the vocal cords but without audible friction...', while a consonant is 'a basic speech sound in which the breath is at least partly obstructed' (definitions from the New Oxford Dictionary of English, 1998). The letter Y can be used to represent different sounds in different words, and can therefore fit either definition. In myth or hymn it is clearly a vowel, and also in words such as my, where it stands for a diphthong (a combination of two vowel sounds). On the other hand, in a word like beyond there is an obstacle to the breath which can be heard between two vowels, and the same sound begins words like young and yes. (This consonant sound, like that of the letter W, is sometimes called a 'semivowel' because it is made in a similar way to a vowel, but functions in contrast to vowels when used in words.) Whether the letter Y is a vowel or a consonant is therefore rather an arbitrary decision. The letter is probably more often used as a vowel, but in this role is often interchangeable with the letter I. However, the consonant sound is not consistently represented in English spelling by any other letter, and perhaps for this reason Y tends traditionally to be counted among the consonants. Source: http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutother/lettery?view=uk
• United States
19 Jul 07
Why it can be one or the other depending on how you use it. I'm not so sure the sound is as you described it, at least not always. I have use y as a vowel and as a consonant several times already, but since I'm no authority on speech and how the vocal tract confugures itself to make sounds I don't know if what you say it really how things are. I know that when I say words some vowels fit your description and some don't appear to as far as I can tell.