"Ye olde" is a pseudo-Early Modern English stock prefix, used anachronistically, suggestive of a Merry England, Deep England or "old, as in Medieval old" feel. A typical example would be Ye Olde English Pubbe or similar names of theme pubs.
The anachronistic use of "ye olde" dates at least to the late 18th century. The use of the term "ye" to mean "the" derives from Early Modern English, in which the was written þe, employing the Old English letter thorn, þ. During the Tudor period, the scribal abbreviation for þe was ("þͤ" or "þᵉ" with modern symbols); here, the letter ⟨þ⟩ is combined with the letter ⟨e⟩. Because ⟨þ⟩ and ⟨y⟩ look nearly identical in medieval English blackletter (as the ⟨þ⟩ in , compared with the ⟨y⟩ in ye), the two have since been mistakenly substituted for each other. The connection became less obvious after the letter thorn was discontinued in favour of the digraph ⟨th⟩. Today, ye is often incorrectly pronounced as the archaic pronoun of the same spelling.
- Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, ye retrieved February 1, 2009
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