Quick Ask Natalie09/11/06

Q: How come Y is "sometimes" a vowel? A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y. What the fuck does that mean? Does some literary God go, "Y...see, you're just not cool enough to play with us today, so I guess you'll have to go stand in the corner of the playground by the broken slide."

A: Wikipedia says that "a vowel is a sound in spoken language that is characterized by an open configuration of the vocal tract so that there is no build-up of air pressure above the glottis. This contrasts with consonants, which are characterized by a constriction or closure at one or more points along the vocal tract."

So, Y is considered a consonant in most contexts, but somtimes in words like "symbol" or "busy" the Y represents an open configuration of the vocal tract.

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