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Monday 30 December 2013

The letter Y and the letter IJ in Dutch

Kinderdijk is Children Dike, where the windmills are.

Long ago the letter IJ  used to be the 25th letter of our Dutch alphabet, but it had to make place for the foreign Y which we call i-grec ( pronounced as ee-grec) and the IJ or ij had to be listed onder I or i. However we have so many names beginning with IJ or ij that  we cannot ignore this letter and have to treat it as one letter.
Foreigners always ask me why are these letters written with two capital letters at the beginning of a name. I say then:"because they cannot be separated, they represent one sound. IJmuiden, IJssel, IJlst...We use this letter ij frequently and in scrabble we are not allowed to use aY or y instead. . So I hope everybody understands that we have more words starting with IJ than with Y in Dutch.It's pronounced like "ei"in leisure not like "e"in let. In Dutch dialects it's pronounced as "ee" like in we. Did I answer your question? ;)
In winter we skate on "ijs"( ice) on the river IJssel.  The English word idle is almost the same in Dutch but spelled like "ijdel". More words with a similar meaning:
like= gelijk
dike= dijk
dyke= dijk
pipe= pijp
The Y however is substituted by "J" in Dutch at the beginning of a word, but has the same pronunciation as "y"in yes, you, year, yoghurt, yen, etc..

In our dictionaries  we have only 14 words starting with Y. So it's not fair not to mention the IJ or ij.

If you take part in this game, please use the letter Y or IJ in a photo, or in a poem, a story...whatever, and refer to the founder of this meme:Mrs. Denise Nesbitt and Roger who took over from her.Or show the logo of this meme in your post, or (like I do) in the sidebar.



  1. I've been so busy (in a good way) that I haven't been able to regularly post. I just wanted to wish all of you all the very best for 2014. May it bring us all a year of peace, good health. love, happiness and success. Thank you all for making this such a special place to visit.

  2. Interesting linguistics lesson. Happy New Year from An Arkie's Musings

  3. Fascinating post this week for the intro. Happy New Year ahead!

  4. thank you for sharing this bit about your alphabet, very fitting!

  5. Interesting ! My son lives in IJburg, and I have never noticed that the first two letters are in capital letters,lol!

  6. Very interesting.It's a shame it got relegated and you didn't just add an extra place for Y

  7. Interesting explication about letter IJ
    。❊ * 。❊ 。 ❊ _█_ ❊ 。 * ❊
    _Π_____ (•.•) * 5☆★☆★☆
    ❊ /______/~\ ( ♥ ) ❊ 2014 Happy Day ❊
    |田 田 |門| ( ♥ ) Happy New Year❊

  8. Wonderful contributions for this Wednesday. Happy New Year everybody!

    Mersad Donko Photography

  9. I know I knew those things before, Wil, but like many other things, I've forgotten about the J and the Y. This was an interesting read.
    Hoping 2014 brings you all good things.
    Luv, K

  10. Very interesting. I have never known that you have different alphabets depending on where you were in the world.

  11. That's the same case in Spanish, where the letter "Y" is called "i Griega." Culture, which includes language, is truly fascinating to me, with its borrowing back and forth throughout the centuries due to migration, conquests, war and other issues. I don't believe there are any countries left that have a pure culture in this world, so why can't we have world peace?