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Thread: You Your Thou Thine

  1. #1
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    Aug 2004

    You Your Thou Thine

    Can anyone tell me which is the formal and which is the informal?

    MY seminar teacher says thou is formal, but I'm sure it's informal. That's why in "Othello", Brabantio switches from "you" to "thou" when he discovers it's Roderigo (is that right? i forget his name) shouting up the blacony to him. My seminar teacher says she doesn't remember that scene though, and insists on continuing to teach the class that thou is the formal one...

    I know its only a little point, but this is one thing I rememeber finding out last year, and it sticking because I found it really interesting. We were discussing a poem as well though, "O rose, thou art sick" so she was saying it didn't have a mothering tone, but it was praising, looking up, because thou isn't informal, its the informal. I'm sure I'm right though!!

    Anyone know??

  2. #2
    Peace is this way Jester's Avatar
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    Oct 2004
    a tiny little place called Earth, my corner of the universe and beyond
    I always though that thou and thine were simply old forms of english, I didn't realize they were formal, or informal.
    "It all comes down to what we make of ourselves, eh?"
    -The Fairy Godmother

    "Sing on, poor souls! The night is short, and the morning will part you forever!"
    - Uncle Tom's Cabin

  3. #3
    Pièce de Résistance Scheherazade's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
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    As far as I know, 'thou' is informal 'you' (second person singular) and 'thee' is the object form (I love thee). 'Thy' (thy heart) and 'thine' (before a vowel - thine eyes) are possessive forms.


    Oxford dictionary seems to agree...
    Last edited by Scheherazade; 02-01-2005 at 05:50 AM.
    "It is not that I am mad; it is only that my head is different from yours.”

  4. #4
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    Dec 2003
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    Old use..thy, thee, thou, sound more "beautiful" IMO.

  5. #5
    Registered User Tabac's Avatar
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    Jan 2003
    Seattle, WA

    Two things

    I prefer "familiar" to informal, but that's a matter of choice.

    The 2nd person forms of which we speak are still used by some small religious communities, such as the Amish. As recently as the 1800's, the Quakers in the U.S. were still using the familiar. They are the equivalent of "tu" and relevant forms in Spanish and French. The "familiar" is used when speaking to a child, family member, pet, or God. (Don't be so surpised about the God part: it shows up in English versions of the Lord's Prayer "[for thine is the kingdom".)

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