If you think saying “ye olde” makes things sound colonial and quaint, maybe you don’t want to hear that you’re mispronouncing it.
Yikes. Who’s guilty of this?
I know I have been.
The truth of the matter is that the “th” sound was not always written by the letter combination “t” and “h.” Historically, it was written with a “þ,” which, as you know, isn’t a part of our contemporary alphabet. When English writing was more standardized and the “þ“ dropped out of use, a “y” was commonly used because its shape closely mirrored the “þ.” Hence “þe” became “ye.” However, it was always pronounced as we pronounce the “th” now.
Colonials knew this. In the modern day, we seem to have forgotten.
Of course, extra confusion comes with the pronoun “ye,” which is the old nominative plural case of the word “you.” This “ye” does indeed sound like you think it should (with the “y” sound).
So next time you want to tap into a bygone era by referring to “ye olde Duke of Gloucester Street,” skip the “ye” and instead use the standard “the” if you’re speaking. Spelling has changed over time, just like “old” has been written as “olde,” “alde,” and “auld,” but pronunciation has remained fairly consistent.
It’s not ye olde trickery; it’s invented linguistic nostalgia.
And now ye know better. (Yes, you read that “ye” right.) Huzzah!
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