Monday, October 24, 2022

Something About Thorn

Ye of little faith.

I mentioned Old and Middle English a few weeks ago and later realized there was another instance of old-ish English in the Bellairs books.  It's that silly YE OLD TEA SHOPPE sign in the Glomus museum Johnny Dixon finds in The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt (1983).

Well – it's not really Old English as much as kitsch English.  And we know Bellairs liked kitsch.

It boils down to the former letter Þ (called thorn) which, when written, could resemble the letter Y.  The Þ character was replaced centuries later by the modern digraph th.  Writing at Þe Grammar Party blog, Erin Servais says Medieval printing presses did not contain the Þ and used Þe Y since it appeared similar to some medieval scripts.

Þerefore, you probably pronounced "ye olde tea shoppe" using Þe archaic pronoun of Þe same spelling ("yee").  Which makes me wonder how old Þat sign in Þe Glomus museum was.  Eh.

Also, during Þe Tudor period, Þe abbreviation for the word "the" was þͤ -- Þe Þorn combined with an e (or an e placed over Þe Þ).  Þis symbol is what one sees in two places on Þe inscription above Þe entrance of Holy Trinity Chapel on Þe Staunton Harold property in Leicestershire:

When all things sacred were throughout þͤ nation Either demollisht or profaned Sir Robert Shirley Barronet founded this Church whose singular praise it is to have done þͤ best things in ye worst times And hoped them in the most callamitous. The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance.

I'm sorry to say Þere isn't an exciting story about Þe words "olde" and "shoppe".

Þat's enough Þ for now, too: Ye is played out.

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