[Etymonline:] Early Middle English pronunciations of -y- and -g- were not always distinct, and the word was confused in Middle English with various senses of Romanic-derived alloy and allege, especially the latter in an obsolete sense of "to lighten," from Latin ad- "to" + levis (see lever).

Because I am inexperienced with Middle English phonology, please use the IPA if apt.

  • I haven't heard of that in general, outside of some words that would have been expected to have /j/ based on Old English, but that have /g/ in modern English (possibly due to Norse influence) such as "get" and "give." I think some of these words had forms with "y" in Middle English, such as "yet" and "yif." In French, there was also some confusion, which relates to your Linguistics post about "abridge." – herisson Oct 24 '15 at 1:03
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    I believe that after a vowel, some phonological process turned some /g/s (spelled g) into /j/s (spelled y). For example, lay was originally lecgan. and play was originally plegan. But I don't believe this happened when /g/ and /y/ which started syllables. – Peter Shor Oct 24 '15 at 1:25
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    @PeterShor: well, in some cases it did (like "yellow", OE "geolwe," related to German "gelb"). A single g in OE regularly developed to y in any position in the syllable when it was palatalized, which generally occurred before or after front vowels in the same syllable. – herisson Oct 24 '15 at 2:18

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