Þorn & ƿynn

ampersandEAs the previous post showed there was a time that Latin Alphabet had 27 letters. Yes, English was written with 1 additional letter, the &. (due to Latin influence). Now, before there was even a Latin influence to be accounted for something, there was Anglo-Saxon culture and their Runic Alphabet known as fuþorc to start with. FuÞorc! See? There’s already a different letter right there, right? Read below a little bit more about the history of our own alphabet and those 2 extinct letters…

Þorn & ƿynn

(thorn and wynn)

Our analysis start with  Old English. English was first written in the alphabet mentioned above, the Anglo-Saxon fuÞorc, also known as Anglo-Saxon. The Angles and Saxons came from Germany and settled in Britain in the fifth century. The region they inhabited became known as “Angle-land,” or “England.”

Abecedarium_anguliscum_scan

Eventually, Christian missionaries introduced the Latin alphabet, which ultimately replaced Anglo-Saxon. But for some time, the alphabet included the letters of the Latin alphabet, some symbols (like &), and some letters of Old English.

As Modern English evolved, the Old English letters were dropped or replaced.

(Our trusty alphabet isn’t the only part of language that has changed — October used to be the eighth month, and September the seventh.)

ye-olde-pizza-shoppeHere’s an example:  In Old English, a letter called “thorn” represented the “th” sound (as in “that”) in Modern English. In the Latin alphabet, the “y” was the symbol that most closely resembled the character that represented thorn. So, thorn was dropped and “y” took its place.

That is why the word “ye,” as in “Ye Olde Booke Shoppe,” is an archaic spelling of “the.”

The Old English letter “wynn” was replaced by “uu,” which eventually developed into the modern w. (It really is a double u.)

The letters “u” and “j” didn’t join what we know as the alphabet until the sixteenth century.

 

runes2

By

Q101Tight

 

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Alphabet, English, History, Latin, Old English

4 responses to “Þorn & ƿynn

  1. Taranaro

    Anyone else now see where it seem Tolkien got his inspiration for the Cirth from? “Is” even has the same phonetic value.

  2. also known as futhark for the vikings. The elder runes.

Á tecë sís:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s