Thorn and eth: how to get them right



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TYPE DESIGN

Thorn and eth
Making thorns
Making an Eth
Making an eth
Eth troubles



Trouble in a cold place
Icelanders are no conformists. They have their own alphabetical order and their own keyboard arrangement. They have two letters pretty much to themselves, the thorn and the eth. (Our neighbours and friends, the Faeroese, also use the eth.)
    These two letters have been a lot of trouble. Type manufacturers often copied each other’s mistakes. Some of them were awful.



The thorn
The sound of the thorn is the same as the th in thing, an unvoiced fricative. It is the only letter of the Latin alphabet adopted from runes. Making it is largely assembly work.




The eth
The sound of the eth is the same as the th in that, a voiced fricative, and an inter-dental at that. Here is a method of making the capital eth, the lower case eth, and a few points about troublespots.
    The place of the letter thorn in the alphabetical order has been excellently set out in a report by Michael Everson and Baldur Sigurdhsson.