Why the plural of “I” is “We”?
By Yasu Shimizu (Japan Luggage Express)
Have you wondered why in English the first plural pronoun is “We” while the first singular pronoun is "I"?
If the first personal singular pronoun is “i”, to make it plural, i.e.to make the first personal *plural* pronoun, it would make sense to make it as simple as "ii".
In “ii”, there are two i's. In other words, you can call it “ double i's” .
Double i's can be expressed as “Wi”. ii = Wi
I speculate that this is how the words “We” or “Wi” were coined in the age
of proto-Germanic, the ancestor language of English, German, Scandinavian languages.
As for the word, "I", When you look at the letter “I”, doesn't it look bit like a *person*? - almost like an ideogram, at least compared with other alphabets.
(Ideograms refer to letters representing meanings like Chinese characters)Also, "I" represents the number one in Roman numerals.
Because alphabets (roman letters) existed before the advent of English language or Proto-Germanic language. It is speculated that they actually *chose* the letter “I” as the first personal singular pronoun because of these two reasons. In Old English, the first singular pronoun was actually “ic”. The letter “c” in “ic” would be a “historical” postfix which changes over the years. For example, in the modern German language the first personal singular pronoun is "Ich".
You may think that the small letter "i" looks more like a person (a torso with its head on it), therefore this could be the origin. However, they started to use small letters in 6th or 7th century* while the letter "I" already represented first singular prounoun in the age of Proto-Germanic, which was hundreds of years before. (*Meaning they only used capital letters back then)
In the German language which has the same route as English, i.e. Proto-Germanic, the first personal plural pronoun is “Wir” and in Danish it is “Vi”. (In Danish “V” is pronounced "wi", thus "v" is virtually a "w").
Perhaps these exemplify how the English word, “We” was made with its origin in the word “Wi” in the age of Proto-Germanic.
Some common words may not be arbitary.