Looking through the fantastically-titled Libro di M. Giovambattista Palatino cittadino romano : nelqual s'insegna à scriuer ogni sorte lettera, antica & moderna, di qualun que natione, con le sue regole, & misure, & essempi : et con vn breve et vtil discorso de le cifre by Palatino, I notice page 100 contains a spread of the Latin Alphabet ("ALPHABETICVM LATINORVM"). There is something decidedly odd about the letter choice however – note that the bottom line contains two almost-identical "Y" forms.


Is there a historical reason for this? Were the letters pronounced differently?


I think that the two forms of the letter Y given on that page are purely aesthetic variations of the same character. It also makes the letter array a neat 6 × 4 array, like the Greek one on the other page of the specimen book. Palatino was a typographer, after all.

However, for a short time in antiquity, there were two different forms of the Y, the Y as we know it and a "short Y" Ⱶ introduced be emperor Claudius and not continued after his reign, see Examples of the use of Claudian letters (Ⅎ, Ↄ, Ⱶ)


I think jknappen is right: that extra Y isn't anything but a fancy Y. A few pages back (86/87), only one Y is mentioned.

There were two forms of the the Y in Greek, though. In fact, there were several. It's unfortunate that Lilian Jeffery's Local Scripts of Archaic Greece doesn't return a preview, but you can see a succinct chart under Cook's Greek Inscriptions.

Epichoric Alphabet Scripts

It wasn't until rather late that in its history that the Greek alphabet was standardized.

The variation in Y meant that the Romans borrowed the letter as V and then later reborrowed the letter, to represent the Greek vowel rather than their native one, as Y.

Not that this answers your specific query, but I mention it in case you stumble upon additional variations in the future.

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