Q: A few years ago, the hold at a bed and also breakfast in Ireland presented my wife and also me come his new puppy, “Artur.” It took me a little bit to realize the the dog’s name was “Arthur.” i assume the pronouncing “th” together “t” is historical, though ns still hear the from the Irish and Scots. Those the history?

A: You’re right in saying that the pronunciation of “th” as “t” in part English dialects may be one obsolete consumption that was as soon as common.

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In fact, “th” used to be just “t,” and also pronounced that way, in older spellings of “authentic,” “orthography,” “theater,” “theme,” “theology,” and also “throne,” follow to the Oxford English Dictionary. And also the “t” was once “th” in “treacle” and also “treasure.”

In the center Ages, the surname “Arthur” can be spelled with “th” or just “t,” saying that the may have actually been express both ways. In early versions the the Arthurian legends, because that example, King Arthur’s surname is spelled through “t” or “th” or runic letter representing the “th” sound.

Even today, it’s typical in the US and the UK to express the “th” together “t” in “Theresa,” “Thomas,” “Thompson,” and also “thyme.” and also the “th” that “Thames” is pronounced through a “t” in England and Canada, despite the flow in Connecticut is generally pronounced with a “th.”

The “th” we’re talking around is called a digraph, through the way, a mix of two letters that represent one sound (like the “ch” in “child” or the “sh” in “shoe”).

However, no all “th” combinations space digraphs. The 2 letters likewise appear together in some compounds that encompass words ending in “t” and beginning through “h,” such together “foothill,” “outhouse,” and “knighthood.” In such compounds, the “t” and “h” room pronounced as different letters. A group of surrounding consonants choose that is sometimes called a consonant cluster or consonant compound.

The digraph “th” is usually seen now in words originating in Old English and Greek. It’s provided to stand for what were the letter thorn (þ) and also eth (ð) in Old English (spoken from around from 450 to 1150), and also the Greek theta (θ), i beg your pardon was originally pronounced together an aspirated “t”—a “t” sound attach by a burst of breath.

The thorn and also the eth, both the which represent the by chance “th” sound in “bath” and also the voiced sound in “bathe,” were gradually replaced by the digraph “th” in center English (spoken from around 1150 to 1450).

Here are a couple of Old English words and also their contemporary English versions: cláðas (“clothes”), broþor (“brother”), þæt (“that”), þyncan or ðyncan (“think”), and þicce (“thick”).

In Layamon’s Brut, very early Middle English poem composed sometime prior to 1200, King Arthur’s name is spelled v an eth: “Arður; aðelest kingen” (“Arthur, most admired the kings”).

In later Middle English poetry, the king’s surname is spelled with either “th” or “t” alone. In the “Wife that Bath’s Tale” in The Canterbury Tales (circa 1386), Geoffrey Chaucer refers to “kyng Artur,” while in the alliterative Morte Arthure (circa 1400), that “kyng Arthur.”

As because that words originating in Greek, the Romans offered “th” to represent the theta in Greek loanwords. Then English borrowed many of these Greek state from Latin or the romantic languages. As far as we deserve to tell, the Latinized Greek “th” terms first appeared in center English.

Here space a couple of Middle English examples: “theatre,” from the Latin theātrum and the Greek θέᾱτρον (theātron); “theologie,” from Latin theologia and also Greek θεολογία (theologίā); and “throne,” from Latin thronus and also Greek θρόνος (thrónos). A couple of early “throne” examples are spelled with “t” rather of “th.”

As we’ve mentioned, the spellings and also pronunciations that English indigenous originating in Greek have varied fairly a bit over the years. The theta has sometimes been represented by a “th” and sometimes by a “t.” and also the “th” has sometimes to be pronounced together a “t.”

We doubt that the confusion have the right to be traced to medieval Latin, as soon as the “th” sound in Greek loanwords started being pronounced as “t.” French then adopted this “th” spelling and also “t” pronunciation, while the other major Romance language (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian) used “t” for both the spelling and the pronunciation.

French, the major source of lend in English, has had a big influence on our spelling and also pronunciation. In fact, the OED qualities the joint of “th” together “t” in some English words come the influence of French. Yet English speakers usually pronounce the “th” digraph today much as the Anglo-Saxons express the thorn and the eth in Old English.

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