[Table of Contents] [Search]


[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: The danger of Long-S's (not for the over-sensitive)



At 12:03 03/04/98 -0500, Dorothy Africa wrote:
>  All this reminds me of a related problem usually encountered at
>tourist shopping areas in signs for such things as "Ye Olde Tea Shoppe",
>etc.  Old English, Middle English, and all English in between never had
>a definite article "ye" what it had was the old Germanic runic letter
>thorn, pronounced "th", which looked something like our modern letter p
>as used in the Old English definite article "pa".   In written form the
>top of the p tended not to get closed, making it look like y.  The rest
>we know.

Actually, Jon Farley, who used to be on this list (and may still be, for
all I know), made a post about that, back when we were having the
discussion I referred to earlier, way back in '96 (the thread was
originally called "Ye Olde Englishe", if all this has been of enough
interest for any of you to track down in the list archives). He basically
said what you just said, Dorothy, with a few further explanatory notes,
plus some ASCII drawings of characters. Since his message was to this list
anyway, I don't imagine there's anything unethical about reproducing it,
and so, if it's of interest to anyone, I've done so at the end of this
message here.

>  As for the f word.  I recall some linguist friend saying it does come
>from old Germanic, as all good cuss words in English do, but first
>appears in more modern English as a technical word for the mating of
>ducks.  I wonder if there was a mistake and those were really sucking
>ducks.  I guess in modern English that's not very nice either, so we
>wind up in the same situation either way.

Actually, the c-word (eek!) -- that is, the one for a certain part of the
female anatomy and not the male (that "other" c-word) -- has much more
pleasant origins as well. It comes from the word "kund", from some old
Indian language (Sanskrit or Pali or something, I'm not sure) and means a
holy well, a sacred basin or font (and hey, there's *that* word again!<g>)
-- a much different connotation for something which refers to the same
thing that we generally refer to using the contemporary, Westernized and
derogotized version of that word. Some of you might also be familiar with
"kund", with the same Eastern meaning, in terms of kundalini yoga, where
what has been described as a "serpent power" is released from where it
rests at the base of the spine, and up the spine (that's just a cursory
description of it -- it's a lot more than that, of course). Also, a woman's
menstrual cycle was called "kundapuspa", which means "flower of the holy
well".

And isn't all that a much more beautiful way of looking at these things? I
think so. :)

>You are right, Sam.  We
>should stick to corn (soft corn of course).

Cream corn? Hmmm...more imagery...

Ron ;)

PS. Here's, below, is Jon Farley's message from ages ago...

>X-From_: J.S.Farley@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx  Mon Nov 11 04:13:16 1996
>Date:   Mon, 11 Nov 1996 09:10:30 +0000 (GMT)
>From:   "J.S.FARLEY" <J.S.Farley@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>Reply-To: J.S.Farley@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>To:     Ron Koster <psymon@xxxxxxxx>
>cc:     BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>Subject: The not Ye
>MIME-Version: 1.0
>Sender: J.S.Farley@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>
>Wes thu Ron hal! (see below)
>
>Sorry, Its a bit long
>I hope the following pics work out....
>
>
>The Anglo-Saxon Alphabet consisted of the following:
>
>A <Ash> B C D <Eth> E F G H I L M N O <OEs ?> P R S T <Thorn> U W X Y
>
>I think THE NAME "OEs" is correct but I am not sure
>
>
>Ash was the a-e dipthong and was pronounced 'a' as in "Ash"
>
>
>Eth was a 'd' with a line through it, and constituted the hard "Zth"
>sound :
>
>
>      *
>      *         *****
>   *******      *    *
>      *         *     *
>   ****      *******  *
>  *   *         *     *
>  *   *         *    *
>   ****         *****
>
>
>Oes was the o-e dipthong and was pronounced 'o' as in "Ox"
>
>
>Thorn (A carry over from the Runic form of writing) was pronounced "th"
>as in "Thing":
>
>
>   *          **   ***
>   *           * **  **
>   ****        **     **
>   *   *       **     **
>   *   *       **     **
>   ****        **    **
>   *           ** ****
>   *           ***      (sorry this is the best I can do for the Cap)
>               **
>                **
>               **
>                **
>
>As we progressed into the middle ages, the capital thorn began to look
>more and more like a 'Y' with the top joined up, until the generally
>illiterate typesetters (who could not appreciate the phonetic difference
>confused the two) could not tell the difference, thus producing some books
>with "Ye" instead of "<thorn>e".
>
>'S' was drawn two ways:
>
>     ***        ***
>    *   *      *
>    *           ***
>    *              *
>    *           ***
>
>
>'W' was sometimes drawn:
>
>
>    ****
>    *   *
>    *   *
>    *  *
>    * *
>    **
>    *
>    *
>    *     (again from the runic)
>
>The runic 'W' was dropped about the time printing came along because of
>its being confused with 'P'
>
>There was no 'Q', this sound was produced by combining 'C' and 'W'
>thus "Queen" was "Cwen"
>
>the "SH" sound was spelt "SC", thus "Scyld Sceving" in Beowulf should be
>pronounced "Shuld Sheeving"
>
>'Y' had a sound like the "U" in the French "Tu", so could not be used to
>pronounce "Yee"
>
>'G' had two sounds, the hard 'G' of "Gun" and the 'y' sound of "Year"
>
>------
>
>That's about it for the letters.
>
>The Anglo-Saxons worked in threes, they had three Genders: Masculine,
>Feminine and Neuter, but more fascinating is that they had three defined
>quantities: one, two and lots. So:
>
>the A-S greeting "Be complete" was dependant upon the quantity:
>
>Wes thu hal = Be you complete
>
>Wes Git hal = Be the two of you complete
>
>Wes Ge hal  = Be all of you complete (this is the nearest to "ye" and was
>                                      pronounced more like "Yay")
>
>This eventually became confusing to the Viking settlers, and so it was
>reduced to "Wes hal" from where we get Wassailing, an the ritual of
>"Wassailing the apple trees".
>
>
>
>I think thats it, hope it is of use.
>
>Jon



                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                       P  S  Y  M  O  N  ?  ?  ?  ?
                       http://home.istar.ca/~psymon
                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


[Subject index] [Index for current month] [Table of Contents] [Search]