A Conversation for Medieval England - a Phrase Book

On the pronunciation of ye

Post 1


Though I don't recall precisely where, I've heard the letter "y" in the word "ye" (and in other words as well) was pronounced "th", as in the word "the".

Do you know whether this is true or false? Was it perhaps something which changed as the language moved from Anglo-Saxon to Middle English, and not Middle English to Modern English, as I'd been previously led to believe? Were there perhaps two forms of the letter(s) "th" that merely resembled the letter "y", as there used to be with the letter "s" and its alternate form which resembled "f"?

Your remarks to the sub-editor peg you as being just enough of a pedant to help me here... and that's "pedant" in the non-pejorative sense of "precisionist", naturally. smiley - smiley

On the pronunciation of ye

Post 2


If you mean "ye" as in "the" (e.g. ye olde shoppe), then you're right. The letter "thorn" looked a bit like a "y".

On the pronunciation of ye

Post 3


Aha... "thorn". It's all rushing back to me now. Thanks!

On the pronunciation of ye

Post 4


As I recall, later generations mistook the thorn for a "y" and considered it "quaint" to write "the" as "ye." But ye as in plural you was definitely a seperate word from ye as in the, wasn't it?

On the pronunciation of ye

Post 5

Gavin Corder II

However are you aware of what Chaucer was on about when he used the word "quaint", as in ""Pryvely he caught hir by the queynte"?

I did a blog post about it here http://gavincorder.blogspot.com/2005/10/quaint-am-i.html

H2G2 on thorn here http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A2922077

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