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Re: USAGE: Thorn vs Eth

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Wednesday, July 10, 2002, 5:35
On Tuesday, July 9, 2002, at 11:36 , Pavel Iosad wrote:

> Hello, > >>> Eth is the voiceless th. Like in Bath. >>> Thorn is the voiced th. like in Then. >>> >> >> Except that it's exactly the opposite!!! >> >> Thorn is the *voiceless* th, like in bath or think, while eth >> is the *voiced* >> th of then and that. That's why you often see it written >> 'edh' instead.
> In addition, in the natlangs that use(d) it, these are usually > allophones of one another, so the graphic distinction is of little > correlation to the pronunciation.
This was true of Old English where thorn and edh were two different solutions to the same problem: to provide a letter for the phoneme /T/ (with allophone [D]). Some scribes simply created a new letter by drawing a horizontal line through {d}; others borrowed the Runic letter thorn. But, as Pavel rightly says, both denoted the same sound. But modern Icelandic does use the two letters for two different sounds: thorn for /T/, and edh for /D/. When advocates of reformed spelling propose re-introducing the letters into English, they also uniformly treat them this way also. As some have pointed out, they are a few pairs of English words which are distinguished by the two phonemes /T/ and /D/. But forget _with_. Here down south, old hands like me say [wID], while the younger generations say [wiv]. In parts of the north one hears [wiT] and in certain other parts [wi]; I've certainly heard [wId] among Irish speakers. 'Tis a wee prepositions, and they tend to weaken in pronunciation and get all sorts of local variants. It hardly relevant IMO in the thorn ~ edh business. Ray.


John Cowan <jcowan@...>