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by Mark Israel
     [This is a fast-access FAQ excerpt.]
The "y" here is a representation of the obsolete letter thorn,
which looked like "b" and "p" superimposed, and was pronounced
[T] or [D] (the same as modern "th").  The pronunciation of "ye" in
"Ye Olde Curiositie Shoppe" as /ji/, which you sometimes hear, is a
spelling pronunciation.
     [Dave Wilton has an extensive set of word and phrase 
     origins at]