thou and thee

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thou and thee

#1  Postby nunnington » Dec 23, 2011 11:07 am

I grew up in a part of Yorkshire (East Riding) where 'thou' and 'thee' were commonly used. I am talking about the 50s and 60s. Thus, my grandfather would say, 'wesh thi mucky face', (wash your mucky face), 'face' incidentally with a diphthong, as in Geordie, sort of 'fey-ass'. 'Ast tha getten tooith-wark?' (have you got tooth-ache).

I just wondered if thou and thee still survive anywhere, in the UK, or elsewhere? It had a very nice feel to it, sort of intimate.
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Re: thou and thee

#2  Postby mattthomas » Dec 23, 2011 11:10 am

Well, I use them, but from a faux medieval linguistic fetish I have, dost thou approve?
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Re: thou and thee

#3  Postby don't get me started » Dec 23, 2011 11:17 am

I can remember my Uncle using 'thou' and 'thee' back in the 1970's in Cumbria.
I thought it was grand!
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Re: thou and thee

#4  Postby nunnington » Dec 23, 2011 11:24 am

mattwilson wrote:Well, I use them, but from a faux medieval linguistic fetish I have, dost thou approve?


Yes, I use them all the time. It's a mixture of irony and affection I suppose. But then today you find people using an incredible mixture of dialects, text-speak, and so on, partly ironically, and I suppose just playfully.
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Re: thou and thee

#5  Postby nunnington » Dec 23, 2011 11:26 am

don't get me started wrote:I can remember my Uncle using 'thou' and 'thee' back in the 1970's in Cumbria.
I thought it was grand!


Now, in some parts of Yorkshire, that would 'I thowt it were grand'.
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Re: thou and thee

#6  Postby Just A Theory » Dec 23, 2011 11:26 am

Thou & Thee refer to second person singular and have been largely replaced by a catch-all 'you'. Thee, however, has been replaced by 'youse' in the vernacular, I know of no substitute for 'thou' unfortunately.
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Re: thou and thee

#7  Postby nunnington » Dec 23, 2011 11:31 am

Just A Theory wrote:Thou & Thee refer to second person singular and have been largely replaced by a catch-all 'you'. Thee, however, has been replaced by 'youse' in the vernacular, I know of no substitute for 'thou' unfortunately.


That's brilliant. In scouse (Liverpool dialect) 'youse' is used for the plural I think. Also found in other dialects obviously, e.g. in the US. 'Youse guys'.
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Re: thou and thee

#8  Postby Just A Theory » Dec 23, 2011 11:36 am

I can't take credit for the revelation, Steven Pinker alerted me.
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Re: thou and thee

#9  Postby mraltair » Dec 23, 2011 11:42 am

In Corby they use 'youse' for plural of 'you' and also as a replacement to 'thee'. Which I would guess they do the same in Scotland too?

I've never heard thou or thee in my short 22 years. Then, I am a midlander and we speak properly. :british:
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Re: thou and thee

#10  Postby Just A Theory » Dec 23, 2011 11:48 am

I do know that Chinese (Mandarin) uses the construct "ta de" to signify the second person singular. Thing is that it can also refer to third person singular too.
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Re: thou and thee

#11  Postby mattthomas » Dec 23, 2011 11:50 am

mraltair wrote:In Corby they use 'youse' for plural of 'you' and also as a replacement to 'thee'. Which I would guess they do the same in Scotland too?

I've never heard thou or thee in my short 22 years. Then, I am a midlander and we speak properly. :british:

I'm a midlander too, and I can attest to the truth in this statement. We do indeed speak properly. :british:

Except those from:
Dudley
Birmingham
Cannock
Walsall
Wolverhampton
et al
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Re: thou and thee

#12  Postby don't get me started » Dec 23, 2011 11:50 am

I was at a conference last year and Michael Swan was giving a talk and mentioned this. He mentioned that English seems to be trying to separate single and plural 'You', simultaneously in different regions of the anglosphere.
'Youse' or variants thereof, north of a line in Britain roughly from the Humber to the Mersey, and 'Y'all' in the American south, with 'You guys' elsewhere in America and Canada. I'm not sure what our antipodean cousins are up to regarding this...bound to be something colorful!!

Another pronominal feature of Cumbrian dialect is 'yersel', 'mesel', etc, appended much more frequently than the reflexive pronouns in other varieties of English.

"Come in and sit yersel down." (Directly parallel to German 'Setzen Sie sich.)
"I don't know, mesel, like."
Last edited by don't get me started on Dec 23, 2011 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: thou and thee

#13  Postby mraltair » Dec 23, 2011 11:52 am

mattwilson wrote:
mraltair wrote:In Corby they use 'youse' for plural of 'you' and also as a replacement to 'thee'. Which I would guess they do the same in Scotland too?

I've never heard thou or thee in my short 22 years. Then, I am a midlander and we speak properly. :british:

I'm a midlander too, and I can attest to the truth in this statement. We do indeed speak properly. :british:

Except those from:
Dudley
Birmingham
Cannock
Walsall
Wolverhampton
et al


Indeed sir, you are quite correct.
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Re: thou and thee

#14  Postby Just A Theory » Dec 23, 2011 11:53 am

To be fair, 'youse' is similar in construction to 'ya'all' which is common in the American South.
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Re: thou and thee

#15  Postby nunnington » Dec 23, 2011 11:57 am

don't get me started wrote:I was at a conference last year and Michael Swan was giving a talk and mentioned this. He mentioned that English seems to be trying to separate single and plural 'You', simultaneously in different regions of the anglosphere.
'Youse' or variants thereof, north of a line in Britain roughly from the Humber to the Mersey, and 'Y'all' in the American south, with 'You guys' elsewhere in America and Canada. I'm not sure what our antipodean cousins are up to regarding this...bound to be something colorful!!

Another pronominal feature of Cumbrian dialect is 'yersel', 'mesel', etc, appended much more frequently than the reflexive pronouns in other varieties of English.

"Come in and sit yersel down." (Directly parallel to German 'Setzer sie sich.)
"I don't know, mesel, like."


In some parts of Yorkshire, 'sit yoursen down', but it may have died out. Around Manchester, 'I'm going there, me', is common, a sort of emphatic tag, also found in French, I think.

Interesting about plural you, yes, 'you guys' is catching on in the UK.
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Re: thou and thee

#16  Postby Corneel » Dec 23, 2011 12:18 pm

nunnington wrote:Interesting about plural you, yes, 'you guys' is catching on in the UK.

"You guys" is almost identical to how the current second person plural was formed in Dutch. Ghi/ji was originally the second person plural (as was you in English), then became used for both singular and plural, and then the distinction was made by adding "lieden" for the plural, which was later contracted to "jullie". So were just one step ahead of you guys.
The original second person singular "du" (equivalent of thou) is still found in some dialects.
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Re: thou and thee

#17  Postby THWOTH » Dec 23, 2011 12:25 pm

I was taught that thees and thous represented the informal and formal second person singular. An equivalent in German is du and zu I believe. Of course, that does not account for 'thy' and 'thine.' :whistle:
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Re: thou and thee

#18  Postby Evolving » Dec 23, 2011 12:33 pm

don't get me started wrote:
"Come in and sit yersel down." (Directly parallel to German 'Setzer sie sich.)
"I don't know, mesel, like."


"Sit down" is reflexive in all languages that I know apart from English:

siediti (sedetevi, si sieda)
assieds-toi (asseyez-vous)
setz dich (setzt euch, Setzen Sie sich)
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Re: thou and thee

#19  Postby katja z » Dec 23, 2011 12:34 pm

Corneel wrote:
nunnington wrote:Interesting about plural you, yes, 'you guys' is catching on in the UK.

"You guys" is almost identical to how the current second person plural was formed in Dutch.


Something similar happened in Spanish and Catalan with "vosotros"/"vosaltres" and "nosotros"/"nosaltres" (literally "you others" and "we others", respectively), although the reason there is less clear, as these languages have kept the singular/plural distinction.
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Re: thou and thee

#20  Postby kiore » Dec 23, 2011 12:39 pm

Youse is used :mrgreen: in New Zealand as well.
I grew up being taught the 'thee' pronunciation of 'the' although at home we used 'thugh' caused all sorts of confusion when reading aloud the KJV or Shakespeare..
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