55. The y in Sanskrit

The य् y in Sanskrit, as in other languages generally, stands at the closest relationship with the vowel इ i (short or long); the two exchange with one another in cases innumerable.

a. And in the Veda (as the metre shows) an i is very often to be read where, in conformity with the rules of the later Sanskrit euphony, a y is written. Thus the final i-vowel of a word remains i before an initial vowel; that of a stem maintains itself unchanged before an ending; and an ending of derivation — as ya, tya — has i instead of y. Such cases will be noticed in more detail later. The constancy of the phenomenon in certain words and classes of words shows that this was no merely optional interchange. Very probably, the Sanskrit y had everywhere more of an i-character than belongs to the corresponding European sound.