It always bugs me when people try to be cutesy in an old-town way by putting up signs saying things like “Ye Olde Coffee House” or “Ye Olde Cinema” or something equally silly. For whatever reason, something always seemed wrong about it to me, and now I know why. It’s because… well, it’s because it really is wrong.

That “y” is supposed to be the runic letter Thorn — Þ (uppercase) or þ (lowercase). Over time, the way the letter was written changed, until eventually it looked more like a backward “y” with a thin line on the top part. Easy to see why people copying old documents got confused and just wrote it as the letter Y, since Thorn was no longer in use in the English alphabet. So when you see a sign that says “Ye Olde…”, just pronounce the first word as “the” instead. That’s how it was originally intended.

Jeez, I love the Internet for learning stuff like this…

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