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Ye Old(e), and the third kind of lie.

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1226713.  Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:12 pm Reply with quote

Just to say, reviewing for the too-embarrassing-to-say-th time some of the old QI's and my dander is finally up enough to make a few points.

Firstly, while quite correct in respect of the Thorn in signs like "Ye Olde Inn", the mistake is still made in pronouncing the 'e' in "Olde". Historically the addition of an 'e' after certain consonants was to denote if they were short, hard Saxon or Germanic sounds or longer, softer French sounds - "Hard" in Dutch and German is pronounced with the hard 'd/t' sound. The addition of the 'e' was to show it was a soft 'd'.

Also, and this is going back a looong way, it was said once that you are more likely to die in a meteor impact than in a plane crash, this error more than anything speaks to the vagueness of statistics. It would be more correct to say that in the event of being involved in a plane crash has a lower chance of being fatal than being involved in a meteor impact. In terms of human mortality, you are much more likely to die in a plane crash than from a meteor impact.

Many thanks,

1226718.  Thu Feb 16, 2017 6:10 pm Reply with quote

Olde was a rare form in Middle English in any case. It is found in a few sources as far back as 1250, but alde and auld were more common spellings of the word meaning "old".

Final <e> was pronounced until around 1300, and was retained in writing for a bit longer even once it had ceased to be pronounced. Chaucer and his contemporaries were not entirely consistent, but they usually wrote the -e in weak adjectives (where it was a vestige of an -an termination in Old English), and omitted it otherwise.

Stefan Linnemann
1226721.  Thu Feb 16, 2017 8:03 pm Reply with quote

Which appears to be corroborated in old Dutch (at least, the one scrap I know), where all the voiceless 'e's modern Dutch is so rife with still are 'a's: Hebban olla vogala nestas hagunan, hinase Ick enda thu. Or something close to that, please consult Google.


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