Lately I've been looking up the Middle English of many Modern English words via Wiktionary. It was my understanding that by this point in the history of English ȝ was in heavy use. Yet these etymologies almost always use a y instead.
I understand that written English was far from standardized. Wiktionary generally shows several forms commonly used, yet often will show a y-option and no ȝ-option. For example,
From Old English wind, from Proto-West Germanic *wind, from Proto-Germanic *windaz.
wend, wende, wind, winde, wynde
IPA: /wiːnd/, /wind/
I've also used Etymonline, but it rarely sites "alternative forms," so it's even less helpful on this issue.
So, if I see a y-option, can I assume there was also a ȝ-option?
As I'm still not understanding I'll add a more informative example:
From Middle English From Middle English rail, rayl, *reȝel, *reȝol (found in reȝolsticke (“a ruler”)), partly from Old English regol (“a ruler, straight bar”) and partly from Old French reille; both from Latin regula (“rule, bar”), from regere (“to rule, to guide, to govern”)
IPA: /ɹeɪl/, [ɹeɪɫ]
From Middle English way, wey, from Old English weġ (“way; path”), from Proto-West Germanic *weg, from Proto-Germanic wegaz, from Proto-Indo-European **weǵʰ-. Doublet of voe.
waye, waie (both obsolete)
Both rail and way rhyme and both come from an Old English predecessor containing a g, yet both do not include ME spellings containing a yogh (on Wiktionary). So, if I wanted to say "railway" (on a sign in a fantasy medieval game) I'm unsure if "raȝelwaȝ" is appropriate.