Eth (//, uppercase: Ð, lowercase: ð; also spelled edh or eð) 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). 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) 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. Another source indicates that the letter is 'derived from Irish writing.'
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; þ survived longer, ultimately being replaced by the digraph th.
In Icelandic, ð represents a (usually apical) voiced alveolar non-sibilant fricative [ð̠], similar to 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.
|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|
|Faroese keyboard||⇧ Shift+Ð||ð||Separate key for Ð|
|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 US Extended or 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|
- The letter ð is sometimes used in mathematics and engineering textbooks as a symbol for a spin-weighted partial derivative. This operator gives rise to spin-weighted spherical harmonics.
- A capital eth is used as the currency symbol for Dogecoin.
Notes and references
- Simonsen, Keld (June 1992). "Character mnemonic table". Character Mnemonics & Character Sets. IETF. p. 8–9. sec. 3. RFC 1345. https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc1345#section-3. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
- Marsden, Richard (2004). The Cambridge Old English Reader. Cambridge University Press. p. xxix.
- 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 (. ))
- Freeborn, Dennis (1992). From Old English to Standard English. London: Macmillan. p. 24.
- David Wilton (September 30, 2007). "Old English Alphabet". Word origins. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
- Pétursson (1971:?), cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:145)
- Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), pp. 144–145.
- Testament Newydd (1567) [The 1567 New Testament].
- "README.md". Dogecoin Integration/Staging Tree (Source code). February 5, 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
- Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-19814-8.
- Pétursson, Magnus (1971), "Étude de la réalisation des consonnes islandaises þ, ð, s, dans la prononciation d'un sujet islandais à partir de la radiocinématographie" [Study of the realisation of Icelandic consonants þ, ð, s, in the pronunciation of an Icelandic subject from radiocinematography], Phonetica, 33: 203–216, doi:10.1159/000259344
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