29. þ - Consonant Confusion (Théoden)
Théoden, gnawing the end of his stylus, stared at the blank page.
Bad enough his father insisted he learn to read and write the script of Gondor, but to write out a Rohirric poem? Théoden had never particularly respected the weedy tutor brought in at great expense to teach him how to be a gentleman, but this was the last straw.
He chanted under his breath, and dug the tip of the stylus into the wax. Hi hyne tha ætbæron to brimes… that was fairly obvious, but - he carefully sounded out "farothe" as he wrote it down. No. That must be wrong. If "tha" was t-h-a then it couldn't be f-a-r-o-t-h-e. The sounds were very different. Tha. Farothe. Not even close. Farode? Closer, but if gode was correct, and he thought it was, farode could not be.
His head itched. Théoden used the tip of the stylus to scratch his scalp inside his plait. Stealing a glance at the hourglass, he saw the lesson time was nearly over. He plowed ahead. … swæse gesi – he stared down, grimaced, and wrote - thas, swa he selfa bæd, thenden…
The last of the sand trickled down. Stupid. Never again.
Théoden was, of course, trying to describe the difference between the ð eth, the voiced dental fricative 'th' of them and the þ thorn, the unvoiced 'th' of thick.
The Old English is a line from Beowulf.