Date: Fri, 3 Dec 1993 10:58:33 -0800

From: Roger Vanderveen rvander[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ICHIPS.INTEL.COM

Subject: Eth and thorn - why did they vanish?

This is an idea of mine, and I'd like to get some opinions on it.

I believe that the letter thorn didn't die out all that early, but was still in

use up until the 18th century, and we still see its occasional use today. I am

referring to the way that the word "the" was spelled as "ye". In old scripts

the letter "y" in "ye" looks like a thorn, and eventually the "y" replaced the


Pronunciation could have been consistent with either spelling. The thorn sound

may not have been pronounced (compare modern English dialects which pronounce

"thee" as "ee"). But as the spelling using "y"/thorn died out in favor of

"th" (which was there all along), the "th" became no longer silent.

What think ye?