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journeyman
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These two words are now primarily used by the Society of Friends. So is ye(the pronoun). How did such a basic part of language as the second person pronouns get consolidated into the single "you", leaving behind the dichotomy of formality and in-formality, and surviving only in the Quakers?


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Is that how thay speak in the Land where never duels rule?? ( smile ) Or jewels.

I think this has been discussed before but what I still would like to know about this subject is:
Is English the only language that has dropped the difference between the polite and the familiar form of you? The languages I know of still have that difference, but I do not know all languages.
The American oriented countries, like ours definitly is, take over this neglect between you and thee or thou . (jij and U )
I think it a loss. But who am I?

Last edited by BranShea; 05/09/07 05:10 PM.
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>But who am I?

who are you?! just you. only you.

-joe (bad-bing) friday

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As "ye/you" slipped slowly into the singular it was first used in a socially upward sense. Shakespeare frequently used it in this manner. When people are talking to their social betters they will frequently use "ye" and "you." When talking to their inferiors or equals they will often use "thou" and "thee." Slowly, as people started using "ye/you" to suck up to others it eventually completely displaced "thou/thee." Why the nominative "ye" was dropped I couldn't say.

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Based on church experience that people may use Thee and Thou rather for God but you for mere people I had assumed it was the other way around and it was the informal that remained and the more respectful that got dropped.
But then I never actually checked to find out.

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(through Online Etymology)

The pronoun of the second person in English grammar used to break down like this:

Nominative singular: THOU
Nominative plural: YE
Objective singular: THEE
Objective plural: YOU

In the Middle Ages, people began to use plural forms in all cases, at first as a sign of respect to superiors, then as a courtesy to equals. By the 1600s, the singular forms had come to represent familiarity and lack of status, and fell from use except in the case of a few dialects, notably in the industrial north of England. People in Lancashire north of the Rossendale Forest and Yorkshire used to be well known for their use of the singular second person pronouns tha (nom.) and thee (acc.). For religious reasons, the Quakers also retained the familiar forms, though generally in such a way that thee was used in all cases, along with the third person of the verb (thee has where grammar would dictate thou hast), and they brought it to America, where it was current in entire neighborhoods of Philadelphia till the 1890s and in some farms in the hinterland for perhaps another generation after that.

Yes, surprised too, that YE / YOU once was a plural form.

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Could the dropping of ye (for y'all) be related to the typesetter's useage of y as a replacement for 'thorn' in the?

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Originally Posted By: Myridon
Could the dropping of ye (for y'all) be related to the typesetter's useage of y as a replacement for 'thorn' in the?


Huh?

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Huh?

All about thorn at Wikipedia. And more at the OED FAQ.


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ye (article)
old or quaintly archaic way of writing the, in which the -y- is a 16c. graphic alteration of , an O.E. character (generally called "thorn," originally a Gmc. rune; see th-) that represented the "hard" -th- sound at the beginning of the. Early printers, whose types were founded on the continent, did not have a , so they substituted y as the letter that looked most like it. But in such usages it was not pronounced "y." Ye for the (and yt for that) continued in manuscripts through 18c. Revived 19c. as a deliberate antiquarianism; the Ye Olde _____
construction was being mocked by 1896.

Looks very much like you are right with that 'typesetter's' problem.

And it is an about-face with those words : thee and thou were familar forms and ye and you were the respect giving forms
(as I hope I got it right now.)

Last edited by BranShea; 05/12/07 03:53 PM.

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