Since then the â€˜%’ has gone from strength to strength, and today we revel in a whole family of â€œper â€”â€”â€”â€”â€ signs, with â€˜%’ joined by â€˜â€°’ (â€œper milleâ€, or per thousand) and â€˜â€±’ (per ten thousand). All very logical, on the face of it, and all based on a fundamental misunderstanding of how the percent sign came to be. Nina and I can comfort ourselves that we are not the first people, and likely will not be the last, to have made the same mistake.
I love stories like this. The history of our punctuation marks and symbols is often quite fascinating.
I wonder how the printing press figures in.
For English speakers, the ‘th’ sound used to be represented by the letter Thorn, printed as ‘Ãž’ (U+00DE).
However, long ago, printing presses in Europe were still being made exclusively in Germany, and they didn’t have a character for ‘Ãž’, so the ‘th’ was eventually adopted as the default way to print that sound.
For a time, people also used ‘Y’, so when you see a sign that Medieval-English styled signs that use the word “Ye” should still be pronounced with a ‘Th’ instead of a ‘Y’. And, if the sign is hand-painted, it’s completely wrong. It was only used that way for printing. Hand-made, hand-painted signs would’ve used thorn.
“The Olde Moustachery”, rather than “Ye olde Moustachery”