The Twenty fifth Letter — Y

What happened to the Y? After the Roman conquest of Greece in the first century BC, the Romans added the Greek Y to the Latin alphabet for use in the Greek words which they began to use. The sound value given to it by the Greeks was unknown in the Latin language, and when used in the adopted Greek words, it took on the sound as the letter i. The early English scribes frequently used y in place of i, particularly when the minuscule (which did not have a dot at that time) fell in close proximity to the m, n, or u, potentially causing confusion to the reader.

The Y is clearly related to the V and W, but it is better to consider it as a cousin rather than a sibling. The point is, while the Y has a V as an important part of the design, this part should not be as wide as a normal V. The Y is one of those characters that looks deceptively easy to construct- but it is not. There is a delicate balance that must be maintained among its three parts. Too much emphasis in one place or another will make the character look awkward and will detract from it’s legibility. The most common mistake is to make the vertical stem too short.
This in turn makes the top part too big and the bottom optically incapable of supporting it. Generally a Y is a Y is a Y, with very little deviation from the standard model. There are, however, a couple more stark exceptions. Palatino, for example has an elegant swash to its left diagonal, and Kabul takes on the characteristics of a lowercase letter.

With credit to Allen Haley,

Upper & Lower Case magazine, a typographic centered publication last published from 1970 to 1999.