FW: [b-hebrew] Re:plurality & divinity

Stoney Breyer stoneyb at touchwood.net
Wed Jun 22 11:20:30 EDT 2005

Actually, 'you' was originally (eow) the objective plural case of the
pronoun which in the nominative plural was 'ye' (ge). 

I don't remember enough OE/ME to say what was used honorifically before
the 16th Century, but by Elizabethan times, 'ye', too, was the familiar
or contemptuous form; a superior would have been addressed as 'you'
(which was, however, already, crowding out the other forms).

Stoney Breyer

-----Original Message-----
From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Peter Kirk
Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2005 9:28 AM
To: yodan at yodanco.com
Cc: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: FW: [b-hebrew] Re:plurality & divinity

On 22/06/2005 15:04, YODAN wrote:

>... I wonder if "you" in English used to have two different forms - a
>singular and a plural - that became one.  Does anyone know? ...

English had a singular "thou" and a plural "you", but as in French etc 
it became customary to use "you" also for the singular, to the extent 
that singular "thou" has almost died out, remaining only in some 
dialects and used by some for addressing God - in an ironic reversal, 
"thou" which originally was the less polite form being used as a term of

respect for God.

But the Hebrew usage is independent of this modern (i.e. post-mediaeval)

rejection of the singular "thou" etc found in most European languages.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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