Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Thu Feb 11 14:37:05 UTC 2010

While, yes, they were used interchangeably in the MSs, standardized
OE (and ON), which is an artificial representation of the language
created in order to make grammars and dictionaries usable, adheres to
the voiced/voiceless distinction between thorn and eth/edh.

---Amy West

>Date:    Wed, 10 Feb 2010 15:02:31 -0600
>From:    "Gordon, Matthew J." <GordonMJ at MISSOURI.EDU>
>Subject: Re: Thorn
>I hope noone teaches this today. As I understand it, the Old English
>letters (thorn and eth) were used interchangeably or according to
>the preferences of the scribe. Since there was no phonemic
>difference between voiced and voiceless fricatives in OE, it would
>be very strange for them to have an orthographic distinction between
>these sounds. Of course the eth functions today as the phonetic
>symbol (in IPA) for the voiced interdental fricative.
>- Matt Gordon

The American Dialect Society -

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