Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Ye olde thorn

You learn something new everyday...

When you see a cliched sign that says "Ye Olde Shoppe", we are all tempted to pronounce the first word "yee".  However, the "y" is actually a tudor letter called thorn that was sometimes shown as the strange letter shown below.  The sound of thorn was a "th", thereby turning "Ye" into "The" that we use today. 


  1. Interesting. As far as I know, Icelandic is the only remaining language within the family of the germanic languages that is still using special letters for the dental sounds. One of them is þ - the other one is ð. The origin is probably the same as the "y"-thorn.

  2. Yes, this is indeed interesting. Maybe the confusion is compounded by our already having been familiar with the word 'Ye' (as in 'O come all ye faithful'), and we assume that the pronunciation would be identical.

  3. lol... We might be watching the same things on the television. :-)

  4. Ray - "it's come all THE faithful"

    Nik - We are both very wise!