Letter IPA
A, a /ɑ(ː)/
B, b /b/
C, c /k/, /tʃ/
D, d /d/
E, e /e(ː)/
F, f /f/, [v]
G, g /g/, [ɣ], /j/
H, h /h/, [x], [ç]
I, i /i(ː)/
K, k /k/
L, l /l/
M, m /m/
N, n /n/
O, o /o(ː)/
P, p /p/
R, r /r/
S, s /s/
T, t /t/
U, u /u(ː)/, /w/ (rare)
X, x /ks/
Y, y /y(ː)/
Ƿ, ƿ /w/
Ð, ð /ð/, [θ]
Þ, þ /θ/, [ð]
Æ, æ /æ(ː)/

The Old English Latin alphabet generally consisted of about 24 letters, and was used for writing Old English from the 8th to the 12th centuries. Of these letters, most were directly adopted from the Latin alphabet, two were modified Latin letters (Æ, Ð), and two developed from the runic alphabet (Ƿ, Þ). The letters Q and Z were essentially left unused outside of foreign names. The letter J had not yet come into use. The letter K was used by some writers but not by others. W gained usage in late Old English under Norman influence, as seen towards the end of the Peterborough Chronicle manuscript, though in this period W was still a ligature and not a full-fledged letter. The alphabet charts from the manuscripts Stowe MS 57 and Cotton Titus D 18 do not present the letters in the exact same order: Both place the non-standard Latin letters at the end of the alphabet.

A table entitled "The Saxon-Alphabet" on the last page of John Fortescue's The Difference between an Absolute and Limited Monarchy (1st ed., 1714)[1] The first column ("Figure") of the table shows the letters of the Old English Latin alphabet, and the second column ("Power") their modern equivalents.
Digraph IPA
cg [dʒ]
ea /æɑ(ː)/
eo /eo(ː)/
gc (rare) [dʒ]
ie perhaps /iy(ː)/
io perhaps /iu(ː)/
sc /sk/, /ʃ/
th (rare) /θ/, [ð]
uu (rare) /w/

History

Old English was first written in runes (futhorc) but shifted to a (minuscule) half-uncial script of the Latin alphabet introduced by Irish Christian missionaries[2] from around the 8th century. This was replaced by Insular script, a cursive and pointed version of the half-uncial script. This was used until the end of the 12th century when continental Carolingian minuscule (also known as Caroline) replaced the insular, along with a shift in spelling conventions toward the Old French alphabet, leading to Middle English.

The letter ðæt ⟨ð⟩ (called eth or edh in modern English) was an alteration of Latin ⟨d⟩, and the runic letters thorn ⟨þ⟩ and wynn ⟨ƿ⟩ are borrowings from futhorc. Also used was a symbol for the conjunction and, a character similar to the number seven (⟨⁊⟩, called ond or a Tironian et), and a symbol for the relative pronoun þæt, a thorn with a crossbar through the ascender (). Macrons ⟨¯⟩ over vowels were used, though rarely, to indicate long vowels.[citation needed] A macron was also used occasionally as a nasal indicator (sort of like a tilde in modern phonetic writing) if the vowel was succeeded by an s (ms or ns would turn into ◌̄s).

References

  1. ^ Fortescue, John (1714). The Difference between an Absolute and Limited Monarchy: As it More Particularly Regards the English Constitution (1st ed.). London, UK: John Fortescue Aland; printed by W. Bowyer in White-Fryars, for E. Parker at the Bible and Crown in Lombard-Street, and T. Ward in the Inner-Temple-Lane. OCLC 642421515. Being a Treatise Written by Sir John Fortescue, Kt. Lord Chief Justice, and Lord High Chancellor of England, under King Henry VI. Faithfully Transcribed from the MS. Copy in the Bodleian Library, and Collated with Three Other MSS. Publish'd with some Remarks by John Fortescue-Aland, of the Inner-Temple, Esq; F.R.S..
  2. ^ Crystal, David (1987). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. Cambridge University Press. p. 203. ISBN 0-521-26438-3.

Bibliography