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Every "ye" has its thorn

After 25 years as an "amateur" genealogist, I'm now studying to go the professional route. The good news: My decades of experience are serving me well, and I've found that I've been doing a lot of things right all these years. The bad news: There is still a LOT to learn.

If you are visiting this site, you must have at least some interest in genealogical and/or historical research, so I thought I'd share a little nugget of information I've just gleaned through my studies in the hopes that it will help you in yours.

Here goes:

The "Y" in the word we read as "ye" (as in "Ye Olde General Store") is actually not the letter "Y."

No, really. It's not.

It's a symbol called a "thorn," and it represents the "th" sound.

What this means is that we've all been saying it wrong, and "ye" should be pronounced "the."

Mind. Blown.

Of course, we shouldn't be surprised. Our ancestors are constantly playing tricks on us genealogists in our search for proof and evidence.

They denoted the name "John" with the abbreviation "Jno."

"Sally" was often a nickname for "Sarah" and ladies named "Martha" were often called "Patsy."

"Junior" and "Senior" most often DID NOT indicated a father-son relationship. Instead, these suffixes were used to differentiate two individuals with the same name--whether or not they were related--with "Senior" being the oldest. And to throw another kink in the lineage chain, sometimes "Junior" became "Senior" when the previous "Senior" passed away.

Makes perfect sense, right?

The study of genealogy is much more than learning the idiosyncracies of early American language...a lot more; I hope to share as much as I can with you as I continue my journey!

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