I was looking through some old bits of writing and came across this:
Letters we lost
Ash, Eth, Ethel and Thorn
Wynn, Yogh and Ampersand
Apparently, I’d read that somewhere and found it worthy of noting down. So naturally, I had to go looking for more information about these lost letters. I found a great channel on YouTube – Rob Words. The link to the episode about the lost letters is in the first comment.
Many of these letters that were once in the English alphabet came from the Anglo Saxon runic alphabet. One in particular is worth sharing here: thorn, which looked like this – Þ and sounded like th. It seems that it began more and more to resemble the letter y and when printing really took over, thorn was often replaced with a y which of course was nothing like the correct sound of Þ . So all those signs saying ‘Ye Olde Oak Inn’ are actually saying ‘The Olde Oak Inn’!
And by the way, the only language to still have thorn in the alphabet is Icelandic.
One letter I didn’t mention was the long s – ‘ſ’. You know the one that kind of looks like an f. Rob Words has a hilarious example from Shakespeare about the perils of ‘ſ’: imagine the reactions nowadays to this text in Shakespeare’s time – ‘Where the bee sucks, there suck I’.