Exploring the beliefs of English people during the fifth to ninth centuries
Pronunciation guide to Óðinn and Þórr
The vowel and consonant sounds in Old English and Old Norse are somewhat different to those used in modern English. A number of vowels and some of the consonants have no exact match. Furthermore different dialects – then and now – pronounce things differently.
By and large I have left such details to specialists. But two consonants which had their own letters in both Old English and Old Norse have been conflated into the modern English spelling 'th'.
One of these characters – þ (or Þ when it is a capital letter) – is known, helpfully, as 'thorn' and represents the 'th' sound in the word 'thorn'.
The other character – ð (or Ð when it is a capital letter) – is known as 'eth' and represents the 'th' sound in 'thin'.
And if you're not convinced that there is a difference between the pronunciation of 'th' in 'thorn' and the 'th' in 'thin' then slowly say the words out loud. Your tongue will go behind your teeth for 'thorn' and between your teeth for 'thin'.
Having explained all that then I'll readily admit that the spellings in the Twilight articles are inconsistent! Mostly I make do with 'th'. But for words like Óðinn and Þórr and óðr (see The potency of leeks and the spirit of alcohol) I have used ð and þ to encourage people to pronounce them more correctly.
copyright © Bob Trubshaw 2013