This question is about historical spelling, but in my opinion the knowledge of the historical spelling relates with the etymology knowledge.

The questions are:
1. Is the fourth letter in image 1 (y) and the large yellow capital letter in image 2 the same letter?
2. Are the fifth and the sixth letters of the circled word in image 2 the same?

What are the precise letters in the word "beginning" in Wycliffe's Bible from originalbibles.com (Wycliffe's Bible, from 1382 to 1395, Middle English, page 151, Jn.1:1)?

Image 1

Screenshot of page from Wycliffe's Bible

Image 2

enter image description here


The Oxford English Dictionary (subscription required), for the word "beginning, n" we find:

Forms: Also bi-, bygyn(n)yng; ME -unge.

Spelling was much less consistent in the 14th century than today.

  • I thing that the fourth letter in the word "bigynnyng" is similar to the big yellow capital letter on the image 2 above (page 61), but this capital letter and the following letter "e", in my opinion, are relate to the modern article "the" (Old English þē), the first letter of which is a consonant but not a vowel. – INeedHelp May 12 '19 at 12:43
  • Also it seems to me, that the fifth and the sixth letters of the word "bigynnyng" are not the same. – INeedHelp May 12 '19 at 12:48
  • @INeedHelp Yes, they are very similar, but not identical. Thorn (þ) was written more or less how we’d write a lowercase p, with a slightly pointier bowl (i.e., long vertical stem with descender straight down + ɔ shape as the bowl), whereas y was written closer to how we write it now as well (i.e., short vertical x-height stroke + pointy bowl with a descender tapering to the left). A lowercase p would be much like þ, but with a rounder bowl and usually some kind of serif at the bottom of the stem. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 12 '19 at 14:08

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