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Although I don’t usually talk about medieval times, Monday’s posts are called Medieval Mondays, because I like alliteration. In these posts, I look at the history of the English language.

… Wherein I rante about people who saye ‘ye olde’.

English: This is a picture that I took of a si...

Ye olde should not exist. It was never used in the history of the English language. If you’re reading this, and own a pub (or pubbe), shop (shoppe) or anything which is prefixed with ‘ye olde’, please take heed and remove this sign.

The definite article, the, has been in the English language since the runic alphabet was used. It has never, ever ever ever, had a y in it.

The started off it’s humble yet important existence in Old English, as se/seo and þæt (masculine, feminine and neuter, respectively), which also exists in different cases.

So, the sentence the king killed the boar translates as se cyning acwealde þone bár.

This developed, in Middle English, into the definite article the. However, the letter thorn (þ) was still used as ‘th’, so it was spelled þe

As the language developed, so did the way in which people wrote. No longer constrained to chiseling away at a rock, or clumsy old stamps and pens, there was no longer a need to write, for instance, ‘a’ as ‘Λ’. Thorn changed how it looked, as did the letter y.

Unfortunately, they changed such that thorn looked like ME ye.png and, later,  EME ye.svg. They look a lot like a modern letter y, causing some confusion.

Which means that people today mistakenly think that this:

and this:

And even this:

make sense and look traditional and quirky.

It doesn’t. It’s just incorrect.

(Although I am impressed that the last example included the accent of café.)

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