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Eth (/ɛð/, uppercase: Ð, lowercase: ð; also spelled edh or ) is a letter used in Old English, Middle English, Icelandic, Faroese (in which it is called edd), and Elfdalian. It was also used in Scandinavia during the Middle Ages but was subsequently replaced with dh and later d. It is often transliterated as d (and d- is rarely used as a mnemonic).[1] The lowercase version has been adopted to represent a voiced dental fricative in the International Phonetic Alphabet.

In Old English, ð (called ðæt by the Anglo-Saxons[2]) was used interchangeably with þ to represent the Old English dental fricative phoneme /θ/, which exists in modern English phonology as the voiced and voiceless dental fricatives now spelled "th".

Unlike the runic letter þ, ð is a modified Roman letter. ð was not found in the earliest records of Old English. A study of Mercian royal diplomas found that ð (along with đ) began to emerge in the early 8th century, with ð becoming strongly preferred by the 780s.[3] Another source indicates that the letter is "derived from Irish writing".[4]

The lowercase version has retained the curved shape of a medieval scribe's d, which d itself in general has not. ð was used throughout the Anglo-Saxon era but gradually fell out of use in Middle English, practically disappearing altogether by 1300;[5] þ survived longer, ultimately being replaced by the digraph th.[citation needed]

Photo of black handwritten text on a seemingly yellow paper with the top and bottom blurry and vertical middle clear
A sample of Icelandic handwriting with some instances of lowercase ð clearly visible: in the words Borðum, við and niður. Also visible is a thorn in the word því.

In Icelandic, ð represents a voiced dental fricative [ð], which is the same as the th in English that, but it never appears as the first letter of a word, where þ is used in its stead. The name of the letter is pronounced in isolation (and before words beginning with a voiceless consonant) as [ɛθ̠] and therefore with a voiceless rather than voiced fricative.

In Faroese, ð is not assigned to any particular phoneme and appears mostly for etymological reasons; however, it does show where most of the Faroese glides are; when ð appears before r, it is, in a few words, pronounced [ɡ]. In the Icelandic and Faroese alphabets, ð follows d.

In Olav Jakobsen Høyem's version of Nynorsk based on Trøndersk, ð was always silent and was introduced for etymological reasons.

Ð has also been used by some in written Welsh to represent /ð/, which is normally represented as dd.[6]

U+1D9E MODIFIER LETTER SMALL ETH is used in phonetic transcription.[7]

U+1D06 LATIN LETTER SMALL CAPITAL ETH is used in the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet.[8]

Computer input

System Uppercase Lowercase Notes
Compose key ("Multi Key") Compose ⇧ Shift++D ⇧ Shift++H Compose D H Compose is a dead key meaning it is pressed & released rather than held down
Unicode U+00D0 U+00F0 Inherited from the older ISO 8859-1 standard
GTK+ Ctrl+⇧ Shift+U D0 ↵ Enter Ctrl+⇧ Shift+U F0 ↵ Enter GTK+ is ISO 14755-conformant for Unicode input
TeX/LaTeX \DH \dh
Faroese keyboard ⇧ Shift+Ð ð Separate key for Ð (and Æ, Ø, and Å (although Å is not used in Faroese))
Icelandic keyboard layout ⇧ Shift+Ð ð Separate key for Ð (and Þ, Æ, and Ö)
macOS ⇧ Shift+⌥ Option+D ⌥ Option+D Typed by activating the ABC Extended keyboard layout
Microsoft Windows Alt+(0208) Alt+(0240) usually requires a separate number keypad, see Alt code. Also, AltGr+d with the US International keyboard layout
Vim Ctrl+K ⇧ Shift+D - Ctrl+K D - [9]

Modern uses

See also


  1. ^ Simonsen, Keld (June 1992). "Character mnemonic table". Character Mnemonics & Character Sets. IETF. p. 8–9. sec. 3. doi:10.17487/RFC1345. RFC 1345. Retrieved 9 October 2016. 
  2. ^ Marsden, Richard (2004). The Cambridge Old English Reader. Cambridge University Press. p. xxix.
  3. ^ Shaw, Philip (2013). "Adapting the Roman alphabet for writing Old English: evidence from coin epigraphy and single-sheet charters". Early Medieval Europe. 21 (2): 115–139. (Subscription required (help)).
  4. ^ Freeborn, Dennis (1992). From Old English to Standard English. London: Macmillan. p. 24.
  5. ^ David Wilton (September 30, 2007). "Old English Alphabet". Word origins. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  6. ^ Testament Newydd (1567) [The 1567 New Testament].
  7. ^ Constable, Peter (2004-04-19). "L2/04-132 Proposal to add additional phonetic characters to the UCS" (PDF).
  8. ^ Everson, Michael; et al. (2002-03-20). "L2/02-141: Uralic Phonetic Alphabet characters for the UCS" (PDF).
  9. ^ Digraphs
  10. ^ "". Dogecoin Integration/Staging Tree (Source code). February 5, 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2014.

Further reading

External links