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From: Matthew Malthouse <matthew.malthouse@guardian.co.uk>
Subject: Re: (urth) re: Urth is Norse
Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1999 07:25:10 +0000

m.driussi@genie.com wrote:

> Furthermore, the Norse word is spelled UR+, with the plus sign being
> that wonderful letter which we no longer have in the Anglophonic
> world--I won't bore you with the name of it.  It is necessary,
> however falacious an impression it creates, to spell words with "+"
> as having either "th" (which rudely approximates the phonetic value)
> or "d" (which rudely captures the essence of the letter's shape,
> since it looks like "a crossed d").

Com'on, don't be shy. It's a thorn, yes? (The letter that printers used y for,
as in ye=the)

> Sadly, English no longer graphically distinguishes between hard "th"
> and soft "th."  If we pronounce Urth as "Earth," we are using the
> hard "th" sound.  If we can somehow pronounce Urth as "Ur+" (with the
> "th" of "then"; the effect is almost a lisp with a headcold?) then we
> are speaking Norse. If we say it "Urd" (as in "Oy urd youf been a
> n'aty boy, Clemit") we are being mildly eccentric. <g>
> (That's my understanding of it, at least.  Scandinavians can go to
> town, of course.  But my central point being the Anglo/Norse
> transition from Earth to Mars.)
> "Urth(e)" is also an old, obscure, variant spelling of an English
> word, "Earth."  Says the OED.

I wonder if it's actually necessary to have a change of language, isn't a
pronuncial shift from Earth -> Urth sifficient?

But even with a change do we read English = the vernacular of Severian's
Commonwealth, Latin = and archaism, Norse = some distinct influence of the
distant past. Or do we have to consider these as real examples of English,
Latin and Norse languages developed?

Incidentally 'Urth', from very first seeing the word, put me in mind of 'Ur-",
as in, well I can't explicayte it to my satisfaction but as in Ur-gold and
Ur-Viles. Or maybe I just read Donaldson at too impressionable age. :)


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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