Ye Note

2 Nov

The use of the term “Ye” to represent an Early Modern English form of the word “the” (traditionally pronounced /ðiː/), such as in “Ye Olde Shoppe”, is technically incorrect. This mistaken attribution is due to the medieval usage of the letter thorn (þ) the predecessor to the modern digraph “th”. The word “The” was thus written Þe. Medieval printing presses did not contain the letter “thorn”, so the y was substituted owing to its similarity with some medieval scripts, especially later ones. – wikipedia

It’s not Ye as in yes, it’s actually The, even though all those old time-y signs are also incorrectly printed, as they’re missing the thorn character.

None of which helps this The Olde Courist Crappe sign (found here), however.
The Old Tourist Trap


2 Responses to “Ye Note”

  1. bmj2k November 2, 2010 at 17:53 #

    I tried expaining this to someone once. Sounds simple but then I got questions about “when is it really a y?” and I sort of gave up.

    • JRD Skinner November 3, 2010 at 14:05 #

      Understood – I think the easiest explanation is “It’s really a ‘Y’ if the ye in question means “you people”.” (As in, “Get off my lawn, ye hooligans.”)

      If it means “The” (or any other word where a “Th” makes more sense), then it ought to be a thorn.

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