Friday, January 12, 2007

Alphabetizing Þ

Once upon a time the English alphabet made use of a non-Roman character called thorn (capital Þ small þ) for "th." You can see remnants of it today in the archaic "ye" for "the." There are still languages today, such as Icelandic, which use the letter þorn.

Ran across a cool page out there which presents exhaustive (and exhausting) arguments for the proper way to alphabetize words which include þ. Lots of charts of ancient alphabets, tabulation of various ways thorn is alphabetized today and has been alphabetized down through the centuries, all leading to the conclusion (presented almost in the spirit of a mathematical proof) that the proper thing to do with Þorn is to treat it as a letter following Z.

"7.0 Afterword. On Þornsday, 1994-06-09, CEN/TC304 resolved that in a default multilingual European sort, ÞORN shall be sorted as a separate letter after Z. Subsequently, ISO/TC37/SC2/WG3 resolved that in its work on alphabetical ordering, ÞORN shall be sorted as a separate letter after Z. Most recently, JTC1/SC22/WG20 resolved that in its work of producing a default multilingual sort for ISO/IEC 10646, ÞORN shall be sorted as a separate letter after Z."

Fascinating site, to those such as myself who are interested in languages and writing systems. I notice the front page is written in English and Irish Gaelic. Article on "The Alphabets of Europe." "Analysis of Olmec Hieroglyphs." Info on Eachtraí Eilíse i dTír na nIontas, alias Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in Irish; The New Testament in Cornish; The Hobbit in Irish, forthcoming; A Breton Grammar; and all other sorts of cool things.



Blogger The Tetrast said...

Alphabetizing Þ is the first step. Next, we form a Web ring, the Þ-Ring, which, when its membership reaches critical mass, will re-introduce Þ into regular use. We will bring the magic rune back! Whaddaya say?

Saturday, January 13, 2007 6:34:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Burgess said...


Saturday, January 13, 2007 6:44:00 PM  
Blogger The Tetrast said...

I have decoded your response and uncovered your agenda. You exclaimed "Thorn!" (in one form or another) nine times. Final exclamation points !, !!, & !!! -- 1, 2, 3. And Thorn would be the 27th letter of the alphabet -- that's .


But Þ would be only the beginning and then we'd see what truths leap forth. There are ð and ȝ and who knows what else!

Saturday, January 13, 2007 7:14:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Burgess said...

Aha! I just noticed... "thorn" spelt thus— þorn— has four letters in it! Is that a coincidence?! I think not!!!

Monday, January 15, 2007 8:44:00 AM  
Blogger The Tetrast said...

Clearly, noþiŋ's as seems hereabouts. In ðe past few very days, I, Tetrast, have noneðeless corrected dozens of Website & eprint liŋks at Wikipedia, even in Tamil & Chinese, because of ðe move of triasmophoric Arisbe: The Peirce Gateway to I emailed specific URL corrections to Website folks elsewhere ðouȝ wið only a few results so far. Well, I was in a "Peirce" mood ðe oðer niȝt but too tired to þiŋk philosophically, so I just up and did ðose þings.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 8:38:00 PM  

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