Tuesday, 29 April 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: Y is for Ye

We've all heard of this one, haven't we? 'Ye Olde Tea Shoppe' and so on.  But here's a piece of trivia you may not have heard of. (It may not be too 'basic', but I couldn't resist.)  There is no such thing as ye said-with-a-y. 

Have you ever heard of the letter thorn? Because that's what that is.  It's th as in the word thick, and was used in Old English and on into Middle English.  But in about the 14th century, it got replaced with th.  Why the change?  Printing.  Thomas Caxton pioneered the printing press, and the fonts that were brought in from Germany and Italy contained the letter y, but not the letter thorn.  But even when it looked like a Y in writing, it was never pronounced as yuh.  In the first printing of the King James bible in 1611, they had to put Ye in places, but actually meant The.  There were even instances of Yt (which was actually That).  Later printings had the and that.  When people say Ye Olde with a y sound, it's really as a bit of a joke.  And you can now feel so superior, because you know all this trivia!

And the only modern language which still possesses thorn? Icelandic...


  1. I did not know that and Icelandic still has it?! This was really interesting and I will be looking at the old language differently

  2. I had heard of thorn, but I guess I never really put it with ye. Now I know...

    Liz A. from Laws of Gravity

  3. that is fantastic! i love that ye olde was a joke! and i am so glad you told us about it.
    great job with the challenge!!

  4. In the midst of my memory I could recall "ye" was originally "the" but it's almost impossible not to say "y" when reading it particularly above the entrance to that rather wonderful tea shop with yummy cakes in the window!!

  5. That's brilliant, I've never actually heard of the letter thorn! Love tidbits like this :)

  6. That's brilliant, I've never actually heard of the letter thorn and I love tidbits like this!

  7. Hi Ros .. good to know you're from Yeovil - and with interesting geological and geanealogical connections ... I like your Y for Ye and its explanation ...

    Cheers Hilary



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