Stories We Like: A Guide to the Comma
third person singular present of be, Old English is, from Germanic stem *es- (cf. Old High German, German, Gothic ist, Old Norse es, er), from PIE *es-ti- (cf. Sanskrit asti, Greek esti, Latin est, Lithuanian esti, Old Church Slavonic jesti), from PIE root *es- "to be." Old English lost the final -t-. See be. Until 1500s, pronounced to rhyme with kiss.
12c. shortening of Old English ic, first person singular nominative pronoun, from Proto-Germanic *ekan (cf. Old Frisian ik, Old Norse ek, Norwegian eg, Danish jeg, Old High German ih, German ich, Gothic ik), from PIE *eg-, nominative form of the first person singular pronoun (cf. Sanskrit aham, Hittite uk, Latin ego (source of French Je), Greek ego, Russian ja, Lithuanian aš). Reduced to i by mid-12c. in northern England, it began to be capitalized mid-13c. to mark it as a distinct word and avoid misreading in handwritten manuscripts.
The reason for writing I is ... the orthographic habit in the middle ages of using a 'long i' (that is, j or I) whenever the letter was isolated or formed the last letter of a group; the numeral 'one' was written j or I (and three iij, etc.), just as much as the pronoun. [Otto Jespersen, "Growth and Structure of the English Language," p.233]The form ich or ik, especially before vowels, lingered in northern England until c.1400 and survived in southern dialects until 18c. The dot on the "small" letter -i- began to appear in 11c. Latin manuscripts, to distinguish the letter from the stroke of another letter (such as -m- or -n-). Originally a diacritic, it was reduced to a dot with the introduction of Roman type fonts.
Old English beon, beom, bion "be, exist, come to be, become, happen," from Proto-Germanic *biju- "I am, I will be." This "b-root" is from PIE root *bheue- "to be, exist, grow, come into being," and in addition to the words in English it yielded German present first and second person singular (bin, bist, from Old High German bim "I am," bist "thou art"), Latin perfective tenses of esse (fui "I was," etc.), Old Church Slavonic byti "be," Greek phu- "become," Old Irish bi'u "I am," Lithuanian bu'ti "to be," Russian byt' "to be," etc. It also is behind Sanskrit bhavah "becoming," bhavati "becomes, happens," bhumih "earth, world."
The modern verb to be in its entirety represents the merger of two once-distinct verbs, the "b-root" represented by be and the am/was verb, which was itself a conglomerate. Roger Lass ("Old English") describes the verb as "a collection of semantically related paradigm fragments," while Weekley calls it "an accidental conglomeration from the different Old English dial[ect]s." It is the most irregular verb in Modern English and the most common. Collective in all Germanic languages, it has eight different forms in Modern English:
BE (infinitive, subjunctive, imperative)
AM (present 1st person singular)
ARE (present 2nd person singular and all plural)
IS (present 3rd person singular)
WAS (past 1st and 3rd persons singular)
WERE (past 2nd person singular, all plural; subjunctive)
BEING (progressive & present participle; gerund)
BEEN (perfect participle).
The paradigm in Old English was:
|1st pres.||ic eom
|2nd pres.||þu eart
|3rd pres.||he is
|1st pret.||ic wæs||we wæron|
|2nd pret.||þu wære||ge waeron|
|3rd pret.||heo wæs||hie wæron|
|1st pret. subj.||ic wære||we wæren|
|2nd pret. subj.||þu wære||ge wæren|
|3rd pret. subj.||Egcferð wære||hie wæren|
That but this blow Might be the be all, and the end all. ["Macbeth" I.vii.5]
The symbol for the element beryllium.
The symbol for the element iodine.
iThe symbol for current.
Variant of iso-.
The symbol for beryllium.
The number whose square is equal to -1. Numbers expressed in terms of i are called imaginary or complex numbers.
The country code for Iceland.
any of the hereditary occupational groups in early Japan (c. 5th-mid-7th century), established to provide specific economic services and a continuous inflow of revenue for the uji, or lineage groups. Each be was thus subsidiary to one of the uji into which all of Japanese society was then divided, and each kakibe, or worker, was effectively owned by the chief of his uji. Most be were agricultural units, producing rice for themselves and their superiors, but some engaged in crafts, fishing, or specific court functions. Those that acted as scribes, interpreters, diviners, or reciters for the court were national organizations; most other types of be were local