Þ is for Thorn

My pal Al recently completed the A-Z Challenge of writing a blog entry every day throughout April 2015 themed on a letter of the alphabet. Three cheers for Al! I then pointed out that in Old English there was another letter that slowly fell in to disuse through the middle ages, even though we still see it’s legacy today in English village signs. This letter is known as “thorn” and represents the “th” sound, originally written as “þ” but then mutated into a “y”. I challenged Al to write one more poem for his alphabet collection and said that I would write one too. The deadline is the þirteenþ of May (unfortunately not a Þurþsday). Anyway, I was overcome by a sudden determination to get my poem done, so here it is.


Þ is for Thorn

Of all the letters our ancestors used
The dear old Thorn is the most badly abused.
It sounds like ‘th’ but now looks like a Y;
It’s been mangled and butchered and left to die.
It’s “THE” not “YE” in front of “Olde Shoppe”!
This mispronunciation simply must stop!
And why use two letters when one will do?
We’ve forced ‘t’ & ‘h’ to take on this new
Combination to do what already existed.
(I blame the Normans, they probably insisted
On a Latin typeface for their new Frenchy laws,
Which I find somewhat ironic, simply because
The French can’t pronounce it; whether in speech or in song;
It isn’t “ziss, zat and ze ozzer” – they say it wrong!)
It’s a piece of our history, and useful, my friend
‘Cos it cuts down on letters in tweets that you send.
Now Thorn’s looking down from typography heaven
But let’s resurrect it as letter twenty seven!
Let’s crown the Thorn! And have Anglo-Saxon pride
In the thorn that is on, rather than in, our side.

thorn

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6 thoughts on “Þ is for Thorn

    1. I had a lot of random ideas for this but no cohesive plan, so I decided to just sit down and write it and see what happened. It turned out reasonably well in the end 🙂

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    1. It is true (mostly). The Anglo-Saxons had a slightly different approach to letters (G for instance can be used as a substitute for Y, as well as retaining its own hard ‘guh’ sound) but the similarities between Old and Modern English are still quite striking. I hope I haven’t subverted too much of your reality 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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