|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 the voiced counterpart of it [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 lowercase Cyrillic ф and in some fonts, the Latin letter f).
The letter thorn was used for writing Old English very early on, as was ð; unlike ð, 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 thorn 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 thorn was largely restricted to certain common words and abbreviations. In William Caxton's pioneering printed English, it is rare except in an abbreviated the, written with a thorn and a superscript E. This was the longest-lived use, though the substitution of Y for thorn 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 thorn 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 the Y form of thorn with a superscript E in places such as Job 1:9, John 15:1, and Romans 15:29. It also used a similar form with a superscript T, which was an abbreviated 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.
The Icelandic language 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 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 woverl 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 phonetics, aspiration is the strong burst of breath that accompanies either the release or, in the case of preaspiration, the closure of some obstruents. In English, aspirated consonants are allophones in complementary distribution with their unaspirated counterparts, but in some other languages, notably most Indian and East Asian languages, the difference is contrastive.
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 is a letter used in Old English, Middle English, Icelandic, Faroese, and Elfdalian. It was also used in Scandinavia during the Middle Ages but was subsequently replaced with dh and later d. It is often transliterated as d. The lowercase version has been adopted to represent a voiced dental fricative in the International Phonetic Alphabet.
A lateral is a consonant in which the airstream proceeds along the sides of the tongue, but it is blocked by the tongue from going through the middle of the mouth. An example of a lateral consonant is the English L, as in Larry.
Z or z is the 26th 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 only definite article in English. The is the most commonly used word in the English language, accounting for seven percent of all 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 either genders. The word The 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. English 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.
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 the Latin script. Since then, letters have been added or removed to give the current Modern English alphabet of 26 letters. The word alphabet is a compound of first two letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha and beta.
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".
A central consonant, also known as a median consonant, is a consonant sound that is produced when air flows across the center of the mouth over the tongue. The class contrasts with lateral consonants, in which air flows over the sides of the tongue rather than down its center.
In phonetics, nasalization is the production of a sound while the velum is lowered, so that some air escapes through the nose during the production of the sound by the mouth. An archetypal nasal sound is.
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 grave accent and the diaeresis mark are the only diacritics native to Modern English, but their usage is considered to be largely archaic.
St. Erkenwald is an alliterative poem of the fourteenth century, thought to have been composed in 1386. It has sometimes been attributed to the Pearl poet. It takes as its subject Erkenwald, the Bishop of London between 675 and 693.
"Ye olde" is a pseudo–Early Modern English phrase originally used to suggest a connection between a place or business and Merry England. The term dates to the 1850s or earlier; it continues to be used today, albeit now more frequently in an ironically anachronistic fashion.
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.
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.
Unlike many languages, Icelandic has only very minor dialectal differences in sounds. The language has both monophthongs and diphthongs, and many consonants can be voiced or unvoiced.
Ye is a second-person, plural, personal pronoun (nominative), spelled in Old English as "ge". In Middle English and early Early Modern English, it was used as a both informal second-person plural and formal honorific, to address a group of equals or superiors or a single superior. While its use is archaic in most of the English-speaking world, it is used in Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada, Northern England and Cornwall in the United Kingdom, and Ireland to distinguish from the singular "you".
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. It is most closely related to Faroese and Western Norwegian.
A voiceless alveolar fricative is 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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