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Lost Letters of the Alphabet: 9 letters we stopped using

Ralf Herrmann

“Thorn, eth, yogh, wynn, ash, ethel, eng, long S & the Tironian et. This video takes you on a tour of the letters we don't use anymore.”

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This is great! I learned so much. I would bring back the Thorn and Eth urgently; without them reading English is full of... potholes. BTW the Æ and Œ are very much alive ⁊ kicking, it's a matter of encouraging people to use them more. Let's see a book that tries to do that. Title: Æsop's Œuvre!

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In elementary school in Bavaria, we still learned something called the "scharfes S" or sharp S - wonder if that was the long S? And how do the umlauts figure into this evolution I am also wondering? Anyway - very interesting, thanks !

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Interesting! The long and short s weren't used interchangeably; the short s was used when at the end of a word, while the long s was used elsewhere. (The two 's' system is similar in Greek, with a roman style 's' used at the end of words.)

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On the one hand, I could see bringing back thorn and eth to English, especially since Icelandic still uses them. But in a greater sense, it might make learning English as a second language that much more difficult: those learning English from, say, one of the Slavic languages would have to get used to two more characters. It would be worse yet for those whose first language is Italian: that language doesn't (as far as I know) use J, K, W, X, or Y in the first place.


Anyhow, thorn and eth are not unreasonable candidates for revival. The others...good luck; you'll need it.

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7 hours ago, 1940LaSalle said:

bringing back thorn and eth .... might make learning English as a second language that much more difficult

On the one hand, learning more things is more work; on the other hand, learning something useful is long-term power. The hardest thing about learning English is that so much of the pronunciation has to be memorized – many words are a mystery until you hear somebody say them (assuming they say it correctly). And the "th" sequence is one of the worst offenders...

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Uberschrift: a typeface with 200 ligatures
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