Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Using a thorn to write

I'm not sure why, but I have a growing fascination with the letter thorn.  Maybe it comes from the fact that we have sounds in the English language that have no letter to themselves.  This is particularly strange since we used to have letters for at least some of these sounds.  In the case of sounds for th, those letters are thorn and eth.

Capital thorn: Þ
Lowercase thorn: þ

Capital eth: Ð
Lowercase eth: ð

Thorn represents the unvoiced th sound, as in the words thin, things, wither, and eighth.  Eth represents the voiced th sound, as in the words the, that, those, feather, and clothe.  When these letters were in common use, they were often used interchangeably, regardless to which th sound was actually used.  Additionally, the letter Y was often used in place of thorn since print type fonts of Medieval times didn't have the letter thorn.  This means, "Ye Olde Shoppe" was really pronounced "The Old Shop", no different than today.  In this case, the "Y" was a replacement for the letter thorn, which represented the voiced th sound of the word "the".  (Further discussion on English sounds that are missing letters.)

So, I've decided to play around with the idea of using thorn in its rightful place within the English language.  The following is a republished old article, where the letters th (representing the voiced and unvoiced th sounds) are replaced with the letter thorn.

Ok...here's þe infamous Miniature Golf story..
Þis one time, like two years ago, I took Miriam to play Miniature Golf at a Golfland in San Jose.  She hadn't been to a Miniature Golf place in aeons.  So, we get our clubs, balls, scorecard and pencils, þen head to þe first tee.  Being þe gentleman þat I am, I let her go first.  She bends down by sticking her ass up in þe air as usual (þis being a family type place, mind you) to put þe ball on þe black mat.  It starts rolling around a bit, but finally she makes it stay in place.  While þis was going on, I'm watching her out of þe corner of my eye, just kinda waiting for her to get her ball to stop rolling around. Getting þe ball to stay in place was, of course, a pointless exercise given what she does next.
She swings. I hear a panicked "Oh!".  She's looking back at me, embarrassed, kinda laughing, kinda whimpering.  Þen I notice þe club is no longer in her hands. I briefly look around for it, confused.  Þen I realize, she's þrown þe club up in þe air during her swing!  I ask, "Where did you þrow þe club?"  Þen I realize furþer, þe club went straight up in þe air!  Worse yet, it hasn't come down yet!  Þen, my even more profound realization is þat it has now been 5 seconds, from when I was wondering why Miriam was embarrassed to þis moment (when I realized þe club was still up in þe air), and þe club was still up in þe air!  I shout at Miriam, "Get out of þe way!", while using pure instinct as to where not be when it finally decided to come back down to Earþ.  We boþ duck and run.  I turn around, worried þat þis magic club (which has now been in þe air for over 6 seconds) might land on someone else.  To my relief, it tumbles to þe ground safely, right on þe spot þat Miriam and I had just ran away from.
We laughed it off, and were relieved no one got hurt.  But to þis day, we wonder how þe hell þis club shot straight up out of her hands into þe air far enough to land in þe same spot a whole 7 seconds later!

1 comment:

Tank Girl said...

With only the TH changed, in your writing; it really doesn't seem to make much of a difference other than forcing the reader to pause at that letter. When most people read, or at least when I do; many words are skipped over. Mostly words like "the", "this", "that", "and", "there", "is", "or", "to", etc··only reading the main words, I guess. I was taught to do this as a form of speed reading, when I was in grade school··· ooohh so long ago 😄. I think the only real difference it does make, in your story; is that it slowed my reading down. I fly right through the story right up until I come across that changed letter, and then it forces me to stop right on it. Haha. It would definitely be something that would take some time getting use to! Maybe if the entire story was written with all of the sounds changed like that, then it'd be easier to read the way that I normally do. Funny story though!