Link to Mailbag Article: http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/m971211c.html
In the response to the question about the second-person singular familiar pronouns, McCaffertA heaps scorn on the questioner for spelling “thine” as “thyne”, saying, “Hey nummie, the first thing it means is you gotta get a dictionary. The first three words are in there. The fourth isn’t, unless it is a really big dictionary that covers misspellings in a little appendix in the back or archaic forms in the front.”
Apart from the fact that “thou”, “thee”, “thy” and “thine” are all archaic forms, the concept of standardised – err, “standardized” – spelling was not a common concept during the time when “thine” was used; authors might spell the same word different ways within the same sentence – and as “i” and “y” were roughly interchangeable, “thyne” would have been perfectly acceptable.
For example, in “A balade agaynst malycyous Sclaunderers”, printed ca. 1540, is the verse, Both thyne and all other / that wold do the same / Trolle away traytoure / god gyue the shame.
Some authors were trying to get things a little more regular, although they were largely unsuccessful. An excellent work on the subject of spelling reform was William Bullokar’s “Booke at Large”, published in 1580. (Inronically, he himself fell prey to the vagaries of the irregular spelling of the time; in his introduction, he follows the word “receyued” [received] with “receiued” in the next sentence, “woorkes” with “workes”, and so on.)
Other good period works on the subject of spelling reform were John Hart’s “Orthography” (1569) and Sir Thomas Smith’s “De recta et emendata lingvae Anglicae scriptione” (1568). All three
authors proposed changing the way English was spelled to match the way it was pronounced (which, incidentally, was a lot more regular than it is today). Obviously, their ideas got about as much support as the Metric System did in the United States, but all three books provide a fascinating record of how English was pronounced in the late sixteenth century.
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