SPidge Tales

Monday, October 24, 2005

Let's Bring Back "Thou"!

One thing I find very interesting, even downright fascinating, is the change in accents based on geographical location, even for people who share a language. It’s understandable and obvious that a person whose native language is French or Spanish would speak accented English. It’s the differences with the same language that are amazing. Like, I notice it just with the way people pronounce my name “Sean.” Down in New York City area, I am called “Shawn” with the hard “yawn” sound. In the north country, and across Lake Champlain in Vermont, it is more “Shon”, sort or rhyming with “Ron.” Everyone knows the Boston accent, where the don’t pronounce their “R’s”. People live near “Woostuh” and their former favorite Red Sox player was “Nomah Gaciuh-ppa-uhh.”

The best example of a difference in accent and pronunciation can be seen, I think, in the use of the plural “you.” In New York City, we hear reference to “youse guys.” In the South, it’s “y’all.” Technically, the correct grammar would be just to say “you.” However, since you is both singular and plural, we feel the need to add either “all” or “guys” so that it can be easily recognized that we are referring to a group and not an individual. English, unlike many other languages, does not have a distinction between singular and plural second person. In Spanish, singular “you” is “usted/ud.” and plural “you” is “ustedes/uds.” Latin and French also have different words for singular and plural second person. English used to. “Thou” was singular second person and “you” plural. “Thou” has gone out of usage, leaving us in the state of confusion.

I suggest a constitutional amendment returning “Thou” to the English language. We deserve to have singular and plural for the second person, as we have for the first. Better yet, let us petition the British Parliament, since we know that it is the Queen’s English that sets the standard. Will you join my crusade?


Blogger Free Press Staffers said...

I'd like to second such an amendment. Now when people refer to Sean and Matt, they are required to say thou. Lovely.

7:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm from Wales (Which is a country in the uk :) and am studying at school for my A-Levels. I agree, languages like frnehc and spanish it is easier, also in Welsh, we have the same as french, 'ti' (tee) = you singular informal (where you'd use 'tu', and 'chi' - (like gemran ch) chee) for plural informal / to be polite (where you'd use 'vous' in french)

It does make some things easier, i.e. it can clarify who you're talking to. I also use it with friends in english, how art thou, as a joke. I read somewhere that it could be difficult to form all the thou parts of verbs in english, so i'm not so sure that it will come back, unless the majority want it to.



9:52 AM  

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