Saturday, July 11, 2009

Thorn - Missing Letter of the Alphabet

BBC - h2g2 - Thorn - Missing Letter of the Alphabet:
"The Font of Wisdom

The thorn was particularly popular as a sign for 'th' in Medieval English, but with the advent of printing came a problem. There was no thorn sign in the printing fonts, as they were usually cast outside of England. So, since the sign for thorn slightly resembled the lower-case 'y', that's what was substituted.

The thorn continued to be used, but printing caused its eventual demise from the English alphabet. As mentioned earlier, lingering proof of its existence hangs on in the outmoded 'Ye'.

Our Thorny Past

Is the perseverance of this 'Ye' a thorn in the flesh? Of course, it is a marvellous relic of a runic alphabet no longer used, and reiterates the richness of the English language by reminding us of its fascinating history and various sources. But as the thorn 's legacy, the contrived and archaic 'Ye' should come with a little reminder that it's pronounced as 'The'."


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