The New Yorker has a splendid article about þorn.
After one sends copies of a new book to the copyright libraries of Ireland, it is usual that the library writes a letter to acknowledge receipt of the book. In the case of Áloþk’s Adventures in Goatland, I received a most remarkable set of misspellings.
- Álobk’s adventures in goatland (NUI Maynooth)
- Alopk’s Adventures in Goatland (Dublin City University)
- Álopk’s adventures in Goatland (University College Cork; acute accent written in by hand)
- Áloþk’s adventures in Goatland (British Library)
- A´lþok’s adventures in Goatland (University College Dublin)
- Álþok’s adventures in Goatland (Trinity College Dublin)
I see that my work is not yet done.
Evertype would like to announce the publication of Áloþk’s Adventures in Goatland, written by noted Carrollian Byron W. Sewell and illustrated by Mahendra Singh.
From the Guide to Pronunciation:
The Zumorgian language, Zumorigénflit, is a linguistic isolate with features common to the Turkic and Caucasian languages. Its sound repertoire is strikingly similar to that of the Bashkir of Bashkortostan, though Zumorigénflit boasts a number of unique consonant clusters unknown in that language.
Although Zumorigénflit was briefly written in both the Arabic and the Cyrillic scripts, both of these writing systems were abandoned after a pair of Mormon missionaries from Iceland, Steinar Steinsson and Guðmundur Guðmundsson, spent several months working with the Lizg people. Few conversions resulted from Steinar and Guðmundur’s visit to Ŋúǧ, but the two did leave the legacy of a stable orthography which Róaž Wiðz made use of in his translation.
The Zumorigénflit alphabet is as follows:
Aa/Áá, Bb, Cc, Čč, Dd, Ðð, Ee/Éé, Ff, Gg, Ǧǧ, Hh, Ħħ, Ii/Íí, Jj, J̌ǰ, Kk, Ll, Mm, Nn, Ŋŋ, Oo/Óó, Pp, Qq, Rr, Ss, Šš, Tt, Uu/Úú, Vv, Ww, Yy, Zz, Žž, Þþ, Ææ, Öö, Üü.
Stressed syllables are marked in the orthography with the acute accent, except for the vowels æ, ö, and ü, which are inherently stressed, as are the diphthongs ay, ey, oy, and öy (when in non-final position). Stressed vowels tend to be slightly longer than unstressed vowels, and have a closer quality. The following key will help the reader unfamiliar with Zumorigénflit.
Aa/Áá [ɑ] like the a in English father. The diphthong ay is like the igh in English high.
Bb [b] like the b in English bin.
Cc [ts] like the ts in English tsetse fly. This sound is only used in loanwords from Chechen, Avar, Russian, and other languages.
Čč [tʃ] like the ch in English chin.
Dd [d] like the d in English din.
Ðð [ð] voiced, like the th in English then or the dd as in Welsh Gwynnedd.
Ee/Éé [ɛ] or [eː] like the e in English den when short or like the e in English skein when long. The diphthong ey is like the ey in English fey.
Ff [f] like the f in English fin.
Gg [ɡ] like the g in English gun.
Ǧǧ [ɣ] a voiced ħ [x], like the g in German sagen, like the ğ in Turkish ağa, or the dh in Irish mo dhuine.
Hh [h] like the h in English hen.
Ħħ [x] like the ch in Scottish English loch or German Bach.
Ii/Íí [ɪ] or [iː] like the i in English pin when short or like the i in English machine when long.
Jj [dz] like the dz in English adze. This sound is only used in loanwords from Chechen, Avar, Russian, and other languages.
J̌ǰ [dʒ] like the g in English gin or the the j in English Jim.
Kk [k] like the k in English kin.
Ll [l] like the l in English line.
Mm [m] like the m in English men.
Nn [n] like the n in English nun.
Ŋŋ [ŋ] like the ng in English singer; with g (ŋg) like the ng in English finger.
Oo/Óó [ɔ] or [oː] like the o in English don when short or like the o in English drone when long. The diphthong oy is like the oy in English boy.
Pp [p] like the p in English pin.
Qq [q] a k at the back of the throat like the q in Arabic al-Qur’ān.
Rr [r] rolled like the r in Scottish English grin.
Ss [s] like the s in English sin.
Šš [ʃ] like the sh in English shin.
Tt [t] like the g in English tin.
Uu/Úú [ʊ] or [uː] like the u in English foot when short or like the oo in English spoon when long. The diphthong uy does not occur in Zumorigénflit.
Vv [v] like the v in English vine.
Ww [w] like the w in English win.
Yy [j] like the y in English yen or hippy.
Zz [z] like the z in English zen.
Žž [ʒ] like the s in English measure.
Þþ [θ] like the th in English thin.
Ææ [æ] like the a in English man or hat.
Öö [ø] like the eu in French peur or the ö in German schön. The diphthong öy is like ö followed by short i.
Üü [y] like the u in French lune or the ü in German grün. The diphthong üy does not occur in Zumorigénflit.
An annotated glossary is given at the end of the book.
There have not been many updates here lately… but I have amongst other things been preparing Byron Sewell’s Áloþk’s Adventures in Goatland for publication (in which þ figures prominently), as well as my talk “A þorn by any other name” for presentation at the ATypI conference in Reykjavík on Friday.
A female þornbug, Umbonia crassicornis. Photograph taken by Tony DiTerlizzi in Frenchman’s Forest Natural Area, Palm Beach County, Florida, on 2004-06-23.
Readers of þorn.info may have recognized the manuscript image in the masthead as being from the Beowulf manuscript. Here is an example showing more context:
Isn’t that a splendid Þorn? Strongly rectilinear, it hearkens more to its runic origins than it does to Latin P.
The text here is from chapter 42, lines 3059-3066. The EETS Beowulf facsimile (edited by Julius Zupitza) transcribes the text thus:
Þa|wæs gesyne þæt se sið ne|ðah þam ðe unrihte
inne gehydde wræce under wealle weard
ær of-sloh feara sum-ne þa sio fæhð ge-
wearð gewrecen wrað-lice wundur hwar
þonne eorl ellen-rôf ende ge-fere. lif-ge-
sceafta þonne leng ne mæg mon mid his
[ma]gum medu-self buan swa wæs bio-wulfe.
Here is how he set the text, with a rather nicely-cut Þorn:
My reading (using abbreviations and insular letters and expanding Zupitza’s “|” to “ ”; you may not see this very well using standard webfonts):
Þa ƿæꞅ ᵹeꞅẏne ꝥ se ſið ne ðah þã ðe unꞃiht[e]
inne ᵹehyꝺꝺe ƿꞃæce unꝺeꞃ ƿealle ƿeaꞃꝺ
æꞃ oꝼꞅloh ꝼeaꞃa ꞅũ ne þa ſio ꝼæhð ᵹe
ƿeaꞃð ᵹeƿꞃecen ƿꞃaðlice ƿunꝺuꞃ hƿaꞃ.
þoñ eoꞃl ellen ꞃóꝼ enꝺe ᵹe ꝼeꞃe. liꝼ ᵹe
[ſc]eaꝼta þoñ lenᵹ ne mæᵹ mon mid hiſ
[mag]ũ medu-selꝺ buan ſƿa ƿæꞅ bio ƿulꝼe.
Then it was to be seen that throve not the way
To him that unrightly had hidden within there
The fair gear ’neath the wall. The warder erst slew
Some few of folk, and the feud then became
Wrothfully wreaked. A wonder whenas
A valour-strong earl may reach on the ending
Of the fashion of life, when he longer in nowise
One man with his kinsmen may dwell in the mead-hall!
So to Beowulf was it when the burg’s ward he sought.
Over at the Old English Wikipedia they’ve got some questionable practices. In the first place I don’t think I much care for their use of macrons. The Irish and Icelandic traditions (which share letters and letterforms with Old English use acute accents to mark long vowels, and in my view they look much nicer than macrons, Sweet’s preference notwithstanding.
But what really annoys me is the faux-cleverness of the administrators of the Old English Wikipedia, as they have created a toggle at the top of each page to allow for user preferences. The toggles are labelled gw and ȝƿ. Here’s a paragraph with the first of them selected:
Nū is Englisc sēo brādoste gesprǣdede sprǣc þǣre worulde, and hæfþ ymbe þæt getæl sprecera þe Ċīnisc hæfþ. In fela landum biþ Nīwe Englisc sēo ǣreste fremðe sprǣc gelǣred and is sēo ambihtlice sprǣc þāra mǣstena betwixfolcliċra gesetednessa. Fela þissa gesetednessa habbaþ ōðra ambihtlica sprǣca. Nīwe Englisc prōfaþ hēodæg swā woruldsprǣc.
Now as I say, I dislike the macrons, but what is ċ doing there in Ċīnisc and betwixfolcliċra? Is this a text for learners or running text? Surely the dot above is not to be considered a normal orthographic diacritic in Old English. Anyway, with the second of the toggles selected, the text changes:
Nū is Englisc sēo mǣst ȝesprǣdede sprǣc þǣre ƿorulde, and hæfþ ymbe þæt ȝetæl sprecera þe Ċīnisc hæfþ. In fela landum biþ Nīƿe Englisc sēo ǣreste fremðe sprǣc ȝelǣred and is sēo ambihtlice sprǣc þāra mǣstena betwixfolcliċra ȝesetednessa. Fela þissa ȝesetednessa habbaþ ōðra ambihtlica sprǣca. Nīƿe Englisc prōfaþ hēodæȝ sƿā ƿoruldsprǣc.
This is ridiculous. In the first place, the substitution of ƿynn is incomplete, as we still have betwixfolcliċra. But what on earth is ȝogh doing there? There was no ȝogh in Old English. There was Insular g, ᵹ, which was used for both front and back sounds. It wasn’t until Carolingian g was brought in by the Normans that Insular g mutated into ȝogh, and was used alongside and distinct from the Carolingian g. So what is it doing on the Old English Wikipedia? If Carolingian w should be substituted by ƿynn, then Carolingian g should be replaced by Insular ᵹ in ᵹesprǣdede and hēodæᵹ.
Any anyway, if they’re using ċ doing there in Ċīnisc and betwixfolcliċra, why aren’t they writing ġesprǣdede and hēodæġ? The text ought to read:
Nú is Englisc séo brádoste gesprǽdede sprǽc þǽre worulde, and hæfþ ymbe þæt getæl sprecera þe Cínisc hæfþ. In fela landum biþ Níwe Englisc séo ǽreste fremðe sprǽc gelǽred and is séo ambihtlice sprǽc þára mǽstena betwixfolclicra gesetednessa. Fela þissa gesetednessa habbaþ óðra ambihtlica sprǽca. Níwe Englisc prófaþ héodæg swá woruldsprǽc.
(I did not review this for grammar, just orthography.) Is there a need for a toggle between w and ƿ? I don’t know. I doubt it. It just adds to the potential confusion between þ and ƿ amd p. But a ȝ in Old English? No, ich þonke ȝou.
Emily says of þorn.info:
Old English nerd nirvana, aaaaa
Not that this is so strange. Baldur Sigurðsson said something quite similar on his FaceBook wall:
Michael Everson hefur sett upp vefsíðuna þorn.info… Ég mæli með henni við alla íslenskunörda á fésbókinni, þessi er sko alveg ekta.
I’m fairly sure that íslenskunörda means ‘Icelandic nerds’… Baldur’s inviting Icelandic Facebook nerds to þorn.info, which he says is “the real deal”.
We’re off to a good start, then!
- c1000 Runic Poem (Gr.) iii, Þorn byð þearle scearp.
- c1400 Mandeville’s Trav. (Roxb.) xv. 71 Þ and ȝ, whilk er called þorn and ȝok.
- 1885 E. M. Thompson in Encycl. Brit. XVIII. 160/1 The English letter thorn, þ, survived and continued in use down to the 15th century.
Name of the Anglo-Saxon and Old Icelandic letter, or the phonetic symbol, ð (‘crossed d’).
- 1846 E. J. Vernon Guide Anglo-Saxon Tongue i. 4 đ (eth) our soft th, as in other.
- 1875 Encycl. Brit. I. 612/2 In order to express the corresponding sonant (heard in ‘that’, and confusedly denoted by the same compound th) a stroke was drawn across the simple d (ð), and the new letter was called edh.
- 1965 C. Barber Flux of Lang. vii. 130 The Old English scribes confused matters a little by using two symbols,‥‘thorn’, and‥‘eth’‥indiscriminately.
- 1969 English Studies Suppl. p. ii, Conybeare‥made no use of thorn, Thk [i.e. Thorkelin] none of eth in transcription, though both sometimes wrote th as in modern English.
The name of the Middle English letter ȝ: see G n., Y n. The use of Latin jugum ‘yoke’ to designate this letter (see quot. a1440) points to the prevalence of the English form ȝok.
- c1300 MS. McClean 123 lf. 114 b in Mod. Lang. Rev. (1911) VI. 442 · Yoȝ · ȝ · [examples] ȝef · ȝus · ȝer · ȝender · draȝ · sclaȝ · arȝ · marȝ.
- a1400 Maundeville’s Travels (Fr. text, MS. Brit. Mus. Harl. 4383, lf. 31) in Mod. Lang. Rev. (1911) VI. 444 Nous auons en nostre parleure en Engleterre deux lettres pluis qils nount en lour a b c, cest assauoir þ et ȝ, qi sont appelez thorn et yogh [v.rr. ȝogh, iogh, ȝok].
- 1410–20 Maundeville’s Travels (Eng. text, MS. Cott. Tit. C. xvi, lf. 60 b) in Mod. Lang. Rev. (1911) VI. 445 Þ & ȝ, the whiche ben clept þorn and ȝogh [v.rr.ȝoch, ȝoche, ȝoghe, ȝouh, yowh, yough, ȝouȝ, ȝowȝe, ȝow, ȝoux, youx].
- 14.. MS. Reg. 17, B. 1 lf. 14 b, in Mod. Lang. Rev. (1911) VI. 442 Þe carect yogh, þat is to seie ·ȝ· is figurid lijk a ȝed.
- [a1440 Thomas Elmham Liber Metr. de Hen. V ii. in Mem. Henry V (Rolls) 195 Praeposita litera Anglica, scilicet ȝ quae jugum sonat.]
- c1465 Pol. Rel. & L. Poems (1903) 2 A. .ȝ. for yorke.
wyn | wynn, n.
- c1300 McClean MS. in Mod. Lang. Rev. (1911) VI. 442 Wen . Ƿ. Ƿimman . Ƿepman . Ƿonie.
- 1705 Wanley Antiq. Lit. Septentr. Pref. †b 2, Quod a Runicis Thorn and Wen clauditur.
- 1758 Wise Some Enq. Europe 145 Ð þ, Th or Thorn, and Ƿ ƿ, W or Wen, are of Northern growth.
- 1884 E. Einenkel Life St. Katherine 125 The scribe took the wên of his original for a þorn.
- 1907 J. E. Wells Owl & Nightingale 3 In a number of places thorn is dotted, and so is like wen.
- [1892 S. A. Brooke Hist. Early Eng. Lit. II. xxiii. 201 W. was sometimes taken to mean Wyn, joy, and sometimes Wen, hope.]
- 1910 F. Tupper Riddles of Exeter Bk. 234 W always demands the interpretation Wyn, a rendering of the rune sustained by the Anglo Saxon alphabet in the Salzburg MS.
- 1912 A. J. Wyatt Old Eng. Riddles p. xxxix, The commoner Anglian runes‥ƿ w wynn (joy).
- 1955 Jrnl. Eng. & Germanic Philol. 54 6 In later Old English fuþorcs, wyn and wen are generally confused, owing to some extent‥to the semantic link existing between the two words, although the name of the W-rune was unquestionably wyn.
- 1965 C. Barber Flux of Lang. vii. 129 The runic symbol ‘wynn’ was used for the Old English w sound.
- 1978 Norfolk Archaeol. XXXVII. 56, G offers one or two forms hardly explicable except as corruptions of original spellings with wynn for w.