Ye olde

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Anachronistic sign reading "Ye Olde Pizza Parlor"
The term has been in use for a long time, as shown in this 1908 image. Pictured is the First Philadelphia Mint (built 1792, since demolished).

"Ye olde" is a pseudo-Early Modern English stock prefix, used anachronistically, suggestive of a Merry England, Deep England or "old, as in Medieval old" feel. A typical example would be Ye Olde English Pubbe or similar names of theme pubs.

History

The anachronistic use of "ye olde" dates at least to the late 18th century. The use of the term "ye" to mean "the" derives from Early Modern English, in which the was written þe, employing the Old English letter thorn, þ. During the Tudor period, the scribal abbreviation for þe was EME ye.svg ("þͤ" or "þᵉ" with modern symbols); here, the letter ⟨þ⟩ is combined with the letter ⟨e⟩.[1] Because ⟨þ⟩ and ⟨y⟩ look nearly identical in medieval English blackletter (as the ⟨þ⟩ in EME ye.svg, compared with the ⟨y⟩ in ye), the two have since been mistakenly substituted for each other. The connection became less obvious after the letter thorn was discontinued in favour of the digraph ⟨th⟩. Today, ye is often incorrectly pronounced as the archaic pronoun of the same spelling.

See also

References

  1. ^ Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, ye[2] retrieved February 1, 2009

External links

  • Antique English: Why is 'ye' used instead of 'the' in antique English?
  • THE versus YE: historical data from English spelling 1450-1734
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