Ye Olde Thorn


Whilst moving house I have found a business card on the back of which I find the 'phone numbers of several local hostelries. I am entering the phone number of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese into Address Book on my Mac.

Should I use a capital Y or a capital Thorn (Þ)? Fucking vikings.

21 Responses to “Ye Olde Thorn”

  1. Francis Davey Says:

    To be fair, thorn was used very early on by the anglo-saxons, long before people came viking to our shores.

  2. Gareth Rees Says:

    I think I’d respect the orthography chosen by the pub.

    I’m not sure what the vikings have to do with this, though.

  3. drj11 Says:

    My apologies to the vikings if, as you both say, thorn has nothing to do with them. Sounds likely, after all, what do I know?

    I rather like the sense of élitism one gets by using Þ, n’est-ce pas? [2008-11-10: Thanks to RK for correcting my abysmal French]

  4. Richard Says:

    You might instead choose to blame the inventors of the Elder Futhark, its oldest known appearance.

  5. Nick Barnes Says:

    Obviously the establishment is called “Ye …”, so you should use “Y”. The fact that historical orthography would show that the word was once spelled with a “Þ” is irrelevant. You don’t spell “Asia” with a “σ”, or “Menzies” with a “ȝ”.

  6. rk Says:

    Just to lay into you a bit more :-) :-) …

    «‘phone»? –it’s «phone», and has been for decades. And where an apostrophe signifying abbreviation is wanted (eg. «’70s»), it should be this one «’», not this one «‘», when you’re using handed quote-marks (I believe).

    «élitism»? –it’s «elitism»: it’s not a French word.

  7. rk Says:

    *sigh* — and, with apologies for pedantry (though meticulous accuracy is Code Monk house style I think):

    «n’est-ce pas» (not «n’est pas»)'est-ce_pas

  8. drj11 Says:

    So at least one person picked up the extra punctuation in «phone» and «elitism» but failed to appreciate the irony. Ho hum. The wrong sort of apostrope is Not My Fault (it’s wordpress, *sigh*), though I’ll see if I can do something about it. Chambers lists both my spellings as acceptable of course. [Slightly later: Yay! I fixed the apostrophe]

    @rk: You’re right about the French of course: I knew it was bad move to try be pretentious and French when tired.

  9. drj11 Says:

    Elder Futhark is such a good name. I was slightly disappointed to learn that it was an alphabet and not a wonderfully obscure and old document.

  10. drj11 Says:

    @Nick: So I should spell a well known 'phone manufacturer:

    S – Lambda – m – s – u – n – g ? Because that’s clearly what they’ve used?

  11. Nick Barnes Says:

    No, that’s just what they’ve got on their packaging. The entity name obviously has an “a”.
    Elder Futhark is surely the name of a Terry Pratchett character. Or it should be.

  12. Nick Barnes Says:

    (have they got the lambda version as an IDN?)

  13. Nick Barnes Says:

    And my “Menzies” remark was a dig at someone who doesn’t even read your blog.

  14. rk Says:

    …failed to appreciate the irony. Ho hum.
    Sorry :-\

    …wrong sort of apostrope is Not My Fault (it’s wordpress, *sigh*)
    Hah! Apologies. (‘Smart’Quotes is it? — what a pathetically ironic name).

  15. Kurt Says:

    I would use the Þ. The Y was only ever used because the type was imported from countries like Holland who never had the Þ character. In the days of unicode there is no excuse not to use the Þ really.

    My pet hate is people who pronounce Þe like yee.

  16. Nick Barnes Says:

    But if Joe Bloggs sets up a cheese shop and wants it to be quaint and calls it “Ye Olde Cheese Shoppe”, he will pronounce that “yee oldee cheese shoppee”, and so will most of his customers. There’s no thorn involved. He really, really, means the letter “Y”.
    This is all part of the glorious way in which the language evolves.

    See also a recent rant by me about my 13-year-old son’s insistence on writing “ect”, and my growing (grudging) acceptance that this is entering the English language, as an abbreviation for the neologism “ecksetra”, and there’s not a damn thing I can, or should, do about it (apart from pointing out that “you will lose marks if you use it in your school-work, muffin-brain”).

  17. drj11 Says:

    My mobile phone does not let me type “ect” predictively. I conclude that the peasantry do not use predictive text. In general I’ve observed that you have to be able to spell pretty well to use predictive text, it is often most unforgiving of mistakes.

  18. drj11 Says:

    January 1936 (diary found whilst clearing out the in-laws sheds):

    “Went skating ect.”

  19. Nick Barnes Says:


  20. mjb67 Says:

    Why is ‘phone incorrect?

  21. drj11 Says:

    There are two problems with ‘phone. One is that it’s just archaic. No-one pretends that ‘phone is a contraction of telephone now. The other is that wordpress’s “smart quotes” change the apostrophe to the wrong sort of curly quote. Which I fixed in the article with '.

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