Eth

Eth

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Eth is a letter
Letter (alphabet)
A letter is a grapheme in an alphabetic system of writing, such as the Greek alphabet and its descendants. Letters compose phonemes and each phoneme represents a phone in the spoken form of the language....

 used in Old English
Old English language
Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

, Icelandic
Icelandic alphabet
The modern Icelandic alphabet consists of the following 32 letters:It is a Latin alphabet with diacritics, in addition it includes the character eth Ðð and the runic letter thorn Þþ...

, Faroese (in which it is called edd), and Elfdalian. It was also used in Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

 during the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, but was subsequently replaced with dh and later d
D
D is the fourth letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet.- History :The Semitic letter Dâlet may have developed from the logogram for a fish or a door. There are various Egyptian hieroglyphs that might have inspired this. In Semitic, Ancient Greek, and Latin, the letter represented ; in the...

. The capital eth resembles a D with a line through the vertical stroke. The lower case resembles an insular
Insular script
Insular script was a medieval script system originally used in Ireland, then Great Britain, that spread to continental Europe under the influence of Celtic Christianity. Irish missionaries also took the script to continental Europe, where they founded monasteries such as Bobbio. The scripts were...

 d
D
D is the fourth letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet.- History :The Semitic letter Dâlet may have developed from the logogram for a fish or a door. There are various Egyptian hieroglyphs that might have inspired this. In Semitic, Ancient Greek, and Latin, the letter represented ; in the...

 with a line through the top. The lower-case letter has been adopted to represent a voiced dental fricative
Voiced dental fricative
The voiced dental non-sibilant fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound, eth, is . The symbol was taken from the Old English letter eth, which could stand for either a voiced or unvoiced...

 in the IPA.

The letter originated in Irish writing as a d with a cross-stroke added. The lowercase version has retained the curved shape of a medieval scribe's d, which d itself in general has not.

In Icelandic, ð represents a voiced dental fricative
Voiced dental fricative
The voiced dental non-sibilant fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound, eth, is . The symbol was taken from the Old English letter eth, which could stand for either a voiced or unvoiced...

 like th in English "them", but it never appears as the first letter of a word. The name of the letter is pronounced [ɛθ], i.e., voiceless, unless followed by a vowel. It has also been labeled an "interdental 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
Semivowel
In phonetics and phonology, a semivowel is a sound, such as English or , that is phonetically similar to a vowel sound but functions as the syllable boundary rather than as the nucleus of a syllable.-Classification:...

 are, and when the ð is before r it is, in a few words, pronounced [ɡ]. In the Icelandic and Faroese alphabet
Alphabet
An alphabet is a standard set of letters—basic written symbols or graphemes—each of which represents a phoneme in a spoken language, either as it exists now or as it was in the past. There are other systems, such as logographies, in which each character represents a word, morpheme, or semantic...

s, ð follows d.

In Olav Jakobsen Høyem
Olav Jakobsen Høyem
Olav Jakobsen Høyem was a Norwegian teacher, telegrapher, supervisor of banknote printing and linguist. He was born in Byneset outside Trondheim, Sør-Trøndelag. His father was Jakob Høyem and his mother Karen Olsdatter Prestegaard Høyem. As a linguist, he fought for a Nynorsk written normal which...

's version of Nynorsk
Nynorsk
Nynorsk or New Norwegian is one of two official written standards for the Norwegian language, the other being Bokmål. The standard language was created by Ivar Aasen during the mid-19th century, to provide a Norwegian alternative to the Danish language which was commonly written in Norway at the...

 based on Trøndersk
Trøndersk
Trøndersk is the Norwegian dialect spoken in the region Trøndelag, the district Nordmøre and the municipality Bindal in Norway as well as in Frostviken in northern Jämtland, Sweden, which was colonized in the 18th century by settlers from Nord-Trøndelag and transferred to Sweden as...

, the ð is always silent and is introduced for etymological reasons.

In the orthography for Elfdalian, the ð represents a voiced dental fricative
Voiced dental fricative
The voiced dental non-sibilant fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound, eth, is . The symbol was taken from the Old English letter eth, which could stand for either a voiced or unvoiced...

 like th in English "them", and it follows d in the alphabet.

In Old English
Old English language
Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

, ð (referred to as ðæt by the Anglo-Saxons) was used interchangeably with þ
Thorn (letter)
Thorn or þorn , is a letter in the Old English, Old Norse, and Icelandic alphabets, as well as some dialects of Middle English. It was also used in medieval Scandinavia, but was later replaced with the digraph th. The letter originated from the rune in the Elder Fuþark, called thorn in the...

 (thorn) to represent either voiced or voiceless dental fricatives. The letter ð was used throughout the Anglo-Saxon era, but gradually fell out of use in Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

, practically disappearing altogether by 1300; þ survived longer, ultimately being replaced by the modern digraph th by about 1500.

The ð is also used by some in written Welsh
Welsh language
Welsh is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England, and in Y Wladfa...

 to represent the letter 'dd' (the voiced dental fricative).

Lower-case eth is used as a symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), again for a voiced dental fricative
Voiced dental fricative
The voiced dental non-sibilant fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound, eth, is . The symbol was taken from the Old English letter eth, which could stand for either a voiced or unvoiced...

, and in IPA usage, the name of the symbol is pronounced with the same voiced sound, as /ɛð/. (The IPA symbol for the voiceless dental fricative
Voiceless dental fricative
The voiceless dental non-sibilant fricative is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. It is familiar to English speakers as the 'th' in thing. Though rather rare as a phoneme in the world's inventory of languages, it is encountered in some of the most widespread and influential...

 is θ.)

Computer input

System Uppercase Lowercase Notes
Unicode
Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

U+00D0 U+00F0 Inherited from the older ISO 8859-1 standard
HTML
HTML
HyperText Markup Language is the predominant markup language for web pages. HTML elements are the basic building-blocks of webpages....

Ð ð
Unix-like
Unix-like
A Unix-like operating system is one that behaves in a manner similar to a Unix system, while not necessarily conforming to or being certified to any version of the Single UNIX Specification....

Compose key
Compose key
A compose key, available on some computer keyboards, is a special kind of modifier key designated to signal the software to interpret the following sequence of two keystrokes as a combination in order to produce a character not found directly on the keyboard...

 plus D and H
Compose key
Compose key
A compose key, available on some computer keyboards, is a special kind of modifier key designated to signal the software to interpret the following sequence of two keystrokes as a combination in order to produce a character not found directly on the keyboard...

 plus d and h
For ISO-8859-1- and UTF-8
UTF-8
UTF-8 is a multibyte character encoding for Unicode. Like UTF-16 and UTF-32, UTF-8 can represent every character in the Unicode character set. Unlike them, it is backward-compatible with ASCII and avoids the complications of endianness and byte order marks...

-based locales
Faroese keyboard Ð ð can be typed directly
Icelandic keyboard Ð ð can be typed directly
Mac OS X
Mac OS X
Mac OS X is a series of Unix-based operating systems and graphical user interfaces developed, marketed, and sold by Apple Inc. Since 2002, has been included with all new Macintosh computer systems...

Shift+Option+D Option+d Typed by activating the US Extended keyboard layout
Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows is a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft.Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces . Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal...

Alt key
Alt key
The Alt key on a computer keyboard is used to change the function of other pressed keys. Thus, the Alt key is a modifier key, used in a similar fashion to the Shift key. For example, simply pressing "A" will type the letter a, but if you hold down either Alt key while pressing A, the computer...

 0208
Alt key 0240 AltGr+d with the US International keyboard layout

Miscellaneous

  • The letter ð is sometimes used in mathematics
    Mathematics
    Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

     and engineering
    Engineering
    Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

     textbooks as a symbol for a spin-weighted partial derivative
    Partial derivative
    In mathematics, a partial derivative of a function of several variables is its derivative with respect to one of those variables, with the others held constant...

    . This operator gives rise to spin-weighted spherical harmonics
    Spin-weighted spherical harmonics
    Spin-weighted spherical harmonics are generalizations of the standard spherical harmonics and—like the usual spherical harmonics—are functions on the sphere. Unlike ordinary spherical harmonics, the spin-weighted harmonics are U gauge fields rather than scalar fields: mathematically, they take...

    .
  • The modern Greek
    Greek language
    Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

     letter delta
    Delta (letter)
    Delta is the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 4. It was derived from the Phoenician letter Dalet...

     (Δ, δ) has, in general, the same phonetic value, and ð is the only Latin alphabet
    Latin alphabet
    The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

     letter faithfully representing delta's phonetic value. (In Ancient Greek, delta represented a d sound.)
  • The symbol is mentioned in the Rush
    Rush (band)
    Rush is a Canadian rock band formed in August 1968, in the Willowdale neighbourhood of Toronto, Ontario. The band is composed of bassist, keyboardist, and lead vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer and lyricist Neil Peart...

     song "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" in the first verse:

Prince By-Tor takes the cavern to the North light,
The sign of Eth is rising in the air.

External links