|Writing system||Latin script|
|Type||Alphabetic and Logographic|
|Language of origin|| Old English language |
Old Norse language
|Phonetic usage||[ θ ]|
[ ð ]
[ θ̠ ]
[ z ]
|Time period||~800 to present|
|Descendants||ꝥ, þͤ, þͭ, þͧ, yᷤ, yͤ, yͭ|
|Transliteration equivalents||Θ, th|
|Other letters commonly used with||th, dh|
Thorn or þorn (Þ, þ) is a letter in the Old English, Gothic, Old Norse, Old Swedish, and modern Icelandic alphabets, as well as some dialects of Middle English. It was also used in medieval Scandinavia, but was later replaced with the digraph th, except in Iceland, where it survives. The letter originated from the rune ᚦ in the Elder Fuþark and was called thorn in the Anglo-Saxon and thorn or thurs in the Scandinavian rune poems. It is similar in appearance to the archaic Greek letter sho (ϸ), although the two are historically unrelated.
It is pronounced as either a voiceless dental fricative [θ] or its voiced counterpart [ð]. However, in modern Icelandic, it is pronounced as a laminal voiceless alveolar non-sibilant fricative [θ̠], similar to th as in the English word thick, or a (usually apical) voiced alveolar non-sibilant fricative [ð̠], similar to th as in the English word the. Modern Icelandic usage generally excludes the latter, which is instead represented with the letter eth ⟨Ð, ð⟩; however, [ð̠] may occur as an allophone of /θ̠/, and written ⟨þ⟩, when it appears in an unstressed pronoun or adverb after a voiced sound.
In typography, the lowercase thorn character is unusual in that it has both an ascender and a descender (other examples are the lowercase Cyrillic ф, and, in some fonts, the Latin letters f and long s).
The letter thorn was used for writing Old English very early on, as was ð, also called eth. Unlike eth, thorn remained in common use through most of the Middle English period. Both letters were used for the phoneme /θ/, sometimes by the same scribe. This sound was regularly realised in Old English as the voiced fricative [ð] between voiced sounds, but either letter could be used to write it; the modern use of [ð] in phonetic alphabets is not the same as the Old English orthographic use. A thorn with the ascender crossed (Ꝥ) was a popular abbreviation for the word that .
The modern digraph th began to grow in popularity during the 14th century; at the same time, the shape of Þ grew less distinctive, with the letter losing its ascender (becoming similar in appearance to the old wynn (Ƿ, ƿ), which had fallen out of use by 1300, and to ancient through modern P, p). In some hands, such as that of the scribe of the unique mid-15th-century manuscript of The Boke of Margery Kempe , it ultimately became indistinguishable from the letter Y. By this stage, th was predominant and the use of Þ was largely restricted to certain common words and abbreviations. In William Caxton's pioneering printed English, it is rare except in an abbreviation for "the", written as þe. This was the longest-lived use, though the substitution of Y for Þ soon became ubiquitous, leading to the common "ye", as in 'Ye Olde Curiositie Shoppe'. One major reason for this was that Y existed in the printer's type fonts that were imported from Germany or Italy, while Þ did not.The word was never pronounced with a "y" sound, though, even when so written. The first printing of the King James Version of the Bible in 1611 used ye for "the" in places such as Job 1:9, John 15:1, and Romans 15:29. It also used yt as an abbreviation for "that", in places such as 2 Corinthians 13:7. All were replaced in later printings by the or that, respectively.
The following were abbreviations during Middle and Early Modern English using the letter thorn:
Thorn in the form of a "Y" survives in pseudo-archaic uses, particularly the stock prefix "Ye olde". The definite article spelt with "Y" for thorn is often jocularly or mistakenly pronounced /jiː/ ("yee") or mistaken for the archaic nominative case of the second person plural pronoun, "ye", as in "hear ye!". In fact, the y in the pronoun would have been spelled with a yogh, ȝe, rather than a y.
Icelandic is the only living language to retain the letter thorn (in Icelandic; þ, pronounced þoddn, [θ̠ɔtn̥] or þordn [θ̠ɔrtn̥] ). The letter is the 30th in the Icelandic alphabet, modelled after Old Norse alphabet in the 19th century; it is transliterated to th when it cannot be reproduced and never appears at the end of a word. For example, the name of Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson is anglicised as Hafthor.
Its pronunciation has not varied much, but before the introduction of the eth character, þ was used to represent the sound [ð], as in the word "verþa", which is now spelt verða (meaning "to become") in modern Icelandic or normalized orthography. Þ was originally taken from the runic alphabet and is described in the First Grammatical Treatise from the 12th-century:
|Staf þann er flestir menn kalla þ, þann kalla ég af því heldur þe að þá er það atkvæði hans í hverju máli sem eftir lifir nafnsins er úr er tekinn raddarstafur úr nafni hans, sem alla hefi ég samhljóðendur samda í það mark nú sem ég reit snemma í þeirra umræðu. [...] Höfuðstaf þe-sins rita ég hvergi nema í vers upphafi því að hans atkvæði má eigi æxla þótt hann standi eftir raddarstaf í samstöfun. |
– First Grammarian, First Grammatical Treatise
|The letter which most men call thorn I shall call the, so that its sound value in each context will be what is left of the name when the vowel is removed, since I have now arranged all the consonants in that manner, as I wrote earlier in this discussion. [...] The capital letter of the I do not write except at the beginning of a section, since its sound cannot be extended, even when it follows the vowel of the syllable. |
|Unicode name||LATIN CAPITAL LETTER THORN||LATIN SMALL LETTER THORN|
|Character entity reference||Þ||þ|
| Windows-1252, |
Various forms of thorn were used for medieval scribal abbreviations:
In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are, pronounced with the lips;, pronounced with the front of the tongue;, pronounced with the back of the tongue;, pronounced in the throat; and, pronounced by forcing air through a narrow channel (fricatives); and and, which have air flowing through the nose (nasals). Contrasting with consonants are vowels.
Eth known as ðæt in Old English, is a letter used in Old English, Middle English, Icelandic, Faroese, and Elfdalian.
F, or f, is the sixth letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its name in English is ef, and the plural is efs.
T, or t, is the twentieth letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its name in English is tee, plural tees. It is derived from the Semitic letters taw via the Greek letter τ (tau). In English, it is most commonly used to represent the voiceless alveolar plosive, a sound it also denotes in the International Phonetic Alphabet. It is the most commonly used consonant and the second most common letter in English-language texts.
Y, or y, is the twenty-fifth and penultimate letter of the ISO basic Latin alphabet and the sixth vowel letter of the modern English alphabet. In the English writing system, it mostly represents a vowel and seldom a consonant, and in other orthographies it may represent a vowel or a consonant. Its name in English is wye, plural wyes.
Z, or z, is the twenty-sixth and final letter of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its usual names in English are zed and zee, with an occasional archaic variant izzard.
The is a grammatical article in English, denoting persons or things already mentioned, under discussion, implied or otherwise presumed familiar to listeners, readers, or speakers. It is the definite article in English. The is the most commonly used word in the English language; studies and analyses of texts have found it to account for seven percent of all printed English-language words. It is derived from gendered articles in Old English which combined in Middle English and now has a single form used with pronouns of any gender. The word can be used with both singular and plural nouns, and with a noun that starts with any letter. This is different from many other languages, which have different forms of the definite article for different genders or numbers.
Middle English was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th century. The English language underwent distinct variations and developments following the Old English period. Scholarly opinion varies, but the Oxford English Dictionary specifies the period when Middle English was spoken as being from 1150 to 1500. This stage of the development of the English language roughly followed the High to the Late Middle Ages.
Æ is a character formed from the letters a and e, originally a ligature representing the Latin diphthong ae. It has been promoted to the full status of a letter in some languages, including Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, and Faroese. It was also used in Old Swedish before being changed to ä. Today, the International Phonetic Alphabet uses it to represent the "a" sound in the English word cat. Diacritic variants include Ǣ, ǣ, Ǽ, ǽ, Æ̀, æ̀, Æ̂, æ̂, Æ̃, and æ̃.
Ll/ll is a digraph that occurs in several languages.
The modern English alphabet is a Latin alphabet consisting of 26 letters, each having an upper- and lower-case form. It originated around the 7th century from Latin script. Since then, letters have been added or removed to give the current Modern English alphabet of 26 letters with no diacritics, digraphs, nor special characters. The word alphabet is a compound of the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha and beta.
Wynn or wyn is a letter of the Old English alphabet, where it is used to represent the sound.
The voiceless dental non-sibilant fricative is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. It is familiar to English speakers as the 'th' in think. Though rather rare as a phoneme in the world's inventory of languages, it is encountered in some of the most widespread and influential. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨θ⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is
T. The IPA symbol is the Greek letter theta, which is used for this sound in post-classical Greek, and the sound is thus often referred to as "theta".
Some English language terms have letters with diacritical marks. Most of the words are loanwords from French, with others coming from Spanish, Portuguese, German, or other languages. The diaeresis mark, the grave accent and the acute accent are the only diacritics native to Modern English, but their usage is considered to be largely archaic.
In English, the digraph ⟨th⟩ represents in most cases one of two different phonemes: the voiced dental fricative and the voiceless dental fricative (thing). More rarely, it can stand for or the cluster (eighth). In compound words, ⟨th⟩ may be a consonant sequence rather than a digraph, as in the of lighthouse.
The rune ᚦ is called Thurs in the Icelandic and Norwegian rune poems. In the Anglo-Saxon rune poem it is called thorn, whence the name of the letter þ derived. It is transliterated as þ, and has the sound value of a voiceless dental fricative.
Th is a digraph in the Latin script. It was originally introduced into Latin to transliterate Greek loan words. In modern languages that use the Latin alphabet, it represents a number of different sounds. It is the most common digraph in order of frequency in the English language.
Icelandic orthography is the way in which Icelandic words are spelled and how their spelling corresponds with their pronunciation.
Icelandic is a North Germanic language spoken by about 314,000 people, the vast majority of whom live in Iceland where it is the national language. As a West Scandinavian language, it is most closely related to Faroese, extinct Norn, and western Norwegian dialects.
The voiceless alveolar fricatives are a type of fricative consonant pronounced with the tip or blade of the tongue against the alveolar ridge just behind the teeth. This refers to a class of sounds, not a single sound. There are at least six types with significant perceptual differences:
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