FW: [b-hebrew] Re:plurality & divinity
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).
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 at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
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