|æ| and |œ|
|From:||Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, October 2, 2004, 19:53|
Ray Brown wrote:
> texts of Old English spell 'ash' with |æ| which denoted /æ/ as opposed to
> plain |a| which denoted /a/. I have always assumed that the letters were
> written as a ligature by Old English scribes, but I am not sure - there
> are others on the list that can tell us whether they did or not. But if
> they did, then we could say |æ| was an Old English innovation.
The Old English certainly borrowed |æ| from Latin writing,
where it did still occur in Medieval spelling, if erratically,
but there are three facts which complicate the picture:
(1) The oldest English MSS use |ae| rather than |æ|, as do the
even older oldest coins.
(2) IIANM the form |ę| "e caudata" -- |e| with a hook, was at least
as common as the original |æ| of which it was a devolution.
This |ę| was common in Irish/Latin Carolingian and Old Norse
writing as well.
(3) The sound [ø/2] was apparently always written with the digraph
|oe| in Old English. At least the handbooks don't mention |œ|.
While having no direct bearing on |æ| it is a strange assymmetry!
FWIW Old Icelandic uses |ę| almost exclusively, and also uses the
analogously created |ǫ| -- |o| with a hook -- almost exclusively
rather than the |ao| digraph or ligature it is supposed to be
derived from. They stand for /E/ and /Q/, BTW.
B.Philip Jonsson -- melroch at melroch dot se
Solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant!