Talk:Thou/Archive 1

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Important note - "Thou" is not always archaic

This intelligent and learned article is, nonetheless, often in danger of lapsing into giving the impression that the use of "thou" in normal speech is entirely dead. This is not true. In the north of England, its use still sounds entirely natural when spoken with one or other of the northern accents.

Could I suggest that writers take care not to imply that it is no longer in daily use anywhere except for effect? I have tried to rephrase some parts to eliminate this implication but there are still some sections which convey the impression that "thou" is entirely dead. People don't go around saying, "Pandas are extinct," dismissing the existence of those few still surviving. Equally, the fact that "thou" is still in use after several hundred years might be said to be one of its more interesting features.

I have moved the next comment up from further down the comment page. It seems to be the only one to have made this point previously. Adrian Robson 08:04, 19 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have added the paradigm for the Yorkshire dialect version of 'tha' which seems relevant here. Although of a high quality, I felt the article had somewhat underplayed the use of surviving forms of 'thou' in rural England - most notably in Yorkshire and the South West. I will endeavour to find the South West forms for inclusion here if markedly different from the Yorkshire forms.


---Regions--- "Thou is primarily unused in modern English apart from in some of the regional dialects of England"

can anyone add, which regions?


In view of the fact that "thou" continues in use in parts of England, it would be nice to see a source to support this sentence: "Thou had almost gone out of usage entirely in most English dialects by the year 1650."

I would guess that in 1650, in the very early days of the expansion of English around the world, most English dialects were confined to England. If "thou" had almost gone out of usage in these dialects, it seems odd that the modern use of "thou" now only continues, apparently, in England, where it was virtually extinct 350 years earlier. Has its level of usage been unchanged (restricted mostly to Yorkshire) since 1650? Any clarification from reliable sources would be welcome. Adrian Robson 08:37, 19 September 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Since no sources for this statement have been produced, I have dropped this statement from the article. At the same time, I have added Samuel Johnson's statement in the 18th century that in formal situations you is used instead of thou, implying that thou was still informal at the time he was writing. Adrian Robson 10:10, 6 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thou and the Deity

Question: was "thou" used to address God because of the singular/plural distinction in Hebrew (as the article says in one place) or because God is supposed to be one's intimate (as it says in another place)? Or is there even linguistic consensus on this? I can easily see it being considered religiously incorrect to refer to the "one God" with a plural pronoun, while addressing God as an "intimate" seems a bit contrived to me. But, I am not a linguist. Gwimpey 09:21, Nov 22, 2004 (UTC)

In languages that observe the T-V distinction, God is usually tu or du; at least He is in French. These languages do not have the number issues posed by the modern English invariant use of "you"; both forms are lively, and the intimate form is used for God.
In actual English usage, thou is not felt as intimate and informal, but rather as a part of an archaizing, highfalutin' grand style. In the history of Bible translation, thou was used originally to convey the singular/plural difference; in a later version, thou was used exclusively to address God. Smerdis of Tlön 16:33, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Was used to reflect the singular/plural distinction (as literally translated from Hebrew and Greek); became a marker of the intimate/formal distinction (in religious as in secular usage); is used (sometimes misused) in frozen religious registers, poetry, and tacky archaism. Which IIRC is what the article says. eritain 00:55, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Quaker "thee"

Perhaps someone with more experience than I would like to add to this page remarks on the more-or-less modern usage of "thee" by certain members of the Quaker community. In which usage, the subjective and objective forms are both "thee," the possessive is "thy/thine" and the pronoun takes a singular third-person verb, e.g., "I hope thee is well."


"Youse" is not just American English as the article says it is. My dialect (Geordie) uses "youse" and its one of the oldest dialects in English, its even older than the country of America itself!!! I think that instead of saying "...some American dialects..." it should say "...some British and American dialects...".

Q: shouldn't it be e.g. rather than i.e. in "yous or youse (i.e. youse guys) is sometimes used" near the bottom of the article?

Is "you" just a "thou" spelled with a thorn instead of a you? And "ye" a "thee" spelled with a thorn? In other words are these actually different words or just artifacts from a change in alphabet? Rmhermen 14:01 9 Jun 2003 (UTC)

No; thou represents Old English þu, while ye is the nominative case that represents Old English ge or 3e. You is the old accusative case of ge, Old English eow. When Middle English scriveners inexplicably omitted the needful letter thorn for the digraph th, the letter Þ was no longer recognised. Printers substituted y for it, resulting in spellings like ye for the and so forth. This is how you get Ye Olde Internet Cafe and similar bogus spellings. But thou and ye are quite distinct. -- IHCOYC 15:44 9 Jun 2003 (UTC)
Okay, but are thou and you distinct? (And are thee and ye distinct?) — Paul A 04:13 10 Jun 2003 (UTC)
Yes. The second person pronouns of Old English were:

Nom. þû   
Gen. þîn
Dat. þê
Acc. þê(c)
which became thou, thine, thee, thee in early Modern English
Nom. 3ê
Gen. êower
Dat. êow
Acc. êow
which became ye, your, you, you in early Modern English

The two paradigms each lead to the separate forms seen in Early Modern English. Ye is only a nominative case form, and thee only an accusative case form. If this doesn't answer the question, I may not be understanding it. -- IHCOYC 04:43 10 Jun 2003 (UTC)

No, I think I just didn't understand your answer. :o)
Thank you. — Paul A 04:57 10 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I restored the phrasing of my reference to the Mighty Thor. The purpose of that phrase was to make certain it was understood that I was talking about the comic book superhero rather than the Norse god. The comic book by Stan Lee and/or Jack Kirby is a rich lode of Thee and Thou, and shows the use of the pronoun for colour in a context somewhat remote from poetry or religion. -- IHCOYC 03:56 10 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I stand corrected. - Litefantastic 15:49, 25 Nov 2003 (UTC)

It seems I must wage a never-ending battle to retain the references to God, Achilles, the skylark, and Thor. The point of the references is to show that thou, when used by relatively recent writers, implies something exactly opposite from intimate familiarity or condescension. In case anyone doubts that the pronoun has in fact been used this way by more recent writers, I have supplied external links containing references to the Revised Standard Version, a poem by Shelley, a 1921 version of a passage from the Iliad, and what appears to be a fan fiction. Please take note of this before simply removing these references. -- Smerdis of Tlön 14:42, 10 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Youse is commonly used in Australian vernacular - possibly from the strong irish influence on the australian dialect.

Many of the spellings for the yous seems incomplete. Granted, I have had limited contact with natural production of this form, but I have heard it pronounced like "youz" more often than "yoos" (lose vs loose). Especially in the construction yous guys, the s should usually be voiced ([z]) because the consonant at the beginning of the next syllable is voiced. At the very least, the [z] variant should be reflected in the given examples of this form.--Aureateflux 18:26, 21 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


When I was in the Air Force, I had a roommate from Youngstown, Ohio who used you'ns for second person plural. Is this a regional slang? RickK 19:44, Jun 29, 2004 (UTC)

Yes, it is heard at least in South Midlands dialect of American English. Rmhermen 19:54, Jun 29, 2004 (UTC)

Y'all and Yous

In this article, it's said that "Yous" is the Northern US slang for the plural case of "You" and that "Y'all" is the Southern US slang for the same.

As someone who lives in the Northern US, I would just like to point out that this is completely inaccurate. "Y'all" is the "correct" plural case of "You" in the regional dialect of the Northwestern US (Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, etc.). Since "Y'all" is used as the plural case in the Northwest and the South (both east and west), it would seem that "Yous" is limited to the Northeastern US -- e.g., it's a "yankee" term. The other three quarters of the US used "Y'all".

I can see how someone who lives in the Eastern US might make this mistake, as Easterners often seem to forget that there's an entire country out there beyond just the east coast, but this inaccuracy still needs to be corrected.

I should also note that the word "slang" is being used incorrectly as well. The word "slang" refers to a word being used in a way that is different from its actual definition. In order to be slang, something must first be an actual word. A good example of slang is using the word "cool" to denote something that one considers to be good (although this particular case may not be the best example, as I understand that modern dictionaries are beginning to include this definition of "cool" alongside the more archaic uses). "Y'all" and "Yous" can't be slang, since they don't have other legitimate definitions.

"Y'all" is also a conjunction of two words, meaning "You all", which isn't truly gramatically incorrect. A conjunction is just a shortening of two words into one, and they can only be "incorrect" if their meaning isn't obvious. Just because it's not listed in a dictionary like the word "isn't" doesn't mean it isn't correct -- especially in the 21st century when almost every English-speaking person in the world knows what the conjunction "Y'all" means. "Yous" on the other hand, is just an attempt to pluralize the already plural "You" by people who have a poor grasp of the English language. It's a gramatical error (and a very sad one, at that), not a conjunction used in place of a grammatically correct term such as "You all".

Not a conjunction (and/or/but) but rather a contraction (it's, ain't, can't) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dachande (talkcontribs) 01:27, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I thought 'yous' is being used in Scotland, and is mostly a scottish-english form, this should be confirmed and integrated into the article.
Concur on "y'all" in Washington State. (Though I used it only sporadically until I became fluent in a T-V language (Ukrainian), whereupon I found it indispensable. Shades of Sapir and Whorf!) Interesting to ask: What is the plural in each area? I've never liked "y'all's" and settled on "your all's" after reading it in All the Pretty Horses. It's also attested for speakers from the Intermountain West (and can be heard in the movie Napoleon Dynamite).
As to the cocksure proclamations just above on "yous" being a "gramatical error" rather than a "conjunction" -- both your nebulous appeals to grammatical correctness and your point about dictionaries being secondary to usage would be better taken if you expressed them clearly, used technical terms in their precise senses, and spelled them correctly. I agree with what you have to say about real usage and the way it trumps the proclamations (self-important, and rarely accurate more than seven times in eight) of schoolmarms. But I don't see why "youse" is a less logical or less intelligible plural than "you all." (Is "we" a less logical plural than "me all"?) I don't see why actual, understood usage wouldn't make "youse" just as meaningful, useful, and "correct" as it makes "y'all." And I don't see why the talk page of an encyclopedia is a good place to make arbitrary pronouncements on the sad erroneousness of people who weren't raised where you were. (Dang those French! They've got a different word for everything! Must be a poor grasp of language. How sad.)
OK, got that off my chest. Might be wise to delete it before I post. Naah. eritain 01:20, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Yes, 'youse' is prevalent and widely recognised in Scotland. "Do youse yins want to go tae the pub efter work?" I'd change the article but that whole section is so firmly US-centric that I'm not sure where to slip it in. It would look confused or incongruous without a solid rewrite. I shall give it a go, as objectors can always revert! :) 13:43, 3 December 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

--- Yinz ---

"Yinz" is a form used in the Pittsburgh area. It is a Scotch/Irish term derived from "you ones". Pittsburghers refer to themselves as "yinzers" and there is even a local magazine _The New Yinzer_.

Where hath "thou" gone? Why did we stop using this logically essential term? It's lack leads to uneccesary and profound confusion. For example, a phone conversation with a store employee;

A: "Why did my account not get credited?"

E: "The money was never received"

A: "But I sent it to you"

E: "I did not receive it"

The obvious intent was second person plural, not singular. When Orwell speaks of changing language to change thought, this is what he meant. How did the individuals relation to society and other individuals change when "thou" went out of usage? Was it Descarte's fault?

I see what you mean, although amusingly under the t-v distinction you'd have the same problem because you'd probably be calling the the person you (plural/unfamiliar) instead of thee anyway. 00:37, 6 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Just bursting in here to ask what on earth "y'all", "yinz" etc have got to do with an article about "Thou"?! FWIW I feel that it ought to be somewhere else. After all, if you were to start looking for entries about "y'all" or "all y'all" would you even consider starting with "Thou"? TraceyR 07:38, 21 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

equivalent to german formal address "sie"?

Q: Is there any equivalent to the german formal address "sie"? A: Yes, there is. It's "you" and its various forms. AlexR 14:07, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)

It's rare that the formal form is derived from the word for "she", though, I think the old plural forms seem much more common in West European languages.

The german formal "Sie" isn't derived from the female form "she" but from the 3rd person plural. Compare "can you...?" would be translated: "Können Sie...?". "She can" is translated "sie kann"; "They can" is "sie können". The formal "Sie" always uses the verb in 3rd person plural.

OK, but the informal 3rd person pronoun is "ihr", and if I'm not mistaken, both the formal singular and plural is originally derived from the word for "she"...
No, see German_grammar#Pronouns for Standard German pronouns. Forms used to address people have been du (thou), er (he), ihr (you) and Sie (They). In order to show respect, the plural was used, and in order to show distance, the third person was used. Two of these forms are now archaic, with only du (informal) and Sie (formal) left. Actually, in modern use, the distinction between du and Sie does not really express the attitude towards the adressee, but is rather depending on the situation, a matter of convention, so to say. -- Sloyment 01:40, 24 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Still "legal" to use it or not?

I would just like to know, whether "thou" is still allowed to use in modern English, or not. If yes, I would also like to know the following:

  1. How is it pronounced, [θəʊ] [θuː] or somehow else (and how its forms are as well)?
  2. What is its form of to be (also "are" or something else) and the short form?
  3. Is there a special still existing flexion form of verbs (sugh as the siffix-like "-s" in the third person of singular), and, if yes, what is it?

Yours scinscierly 19:51, 5 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

All of these questions are addressed in the article. Rmhermen 21:32, 5 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dutch examples

Added dutch examples 17:00, 21 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Why? What do they add that isn't already covered with the examples present? User:Angr 14:17, 24 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Actually, the Dutch examples are different from both Old English and German, (apparently, the Dutch cognate to thou isn't even archaic anymore, but completely lost in most dialects and everyday speech.) I remove the examples. 惑乱 分からん 11:13, 13 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Substantial edit

I've just made several fairly substantial edits to the page, in an attempt to address the concerns raised at the featured article review:

  • Rewriting the lede. I've expanded the lede to summarize all the key points of the article and to mention all the topics important enough to merit a section heading. I've also removed the "listy intro." This should address Yannismarou's concern that the lede was not in compliance with WP:LEAD.
  • Section reorganization. I've made the Etymology section part of the Historical usage section (previously called the History section). I've adjusted the section header names in part to comply with the Manual of Style, and in part to clarify the contents of the sections. This should address the concerns at the featured article review that the article "has very short sections" and "may need some better section organization."
  • Copyediting. I haven't done a thorough copyedit (and I haven't yet proofed my own edits thoroughly yet) but I made some changes where they seemed appropriate.

I don't mean to step on anyone's toes; if anyone is unhappy with the changes I've just made, please feel free to revert or improve them. Peirigill 10:40, 27 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No offense, but how can you misspell "lead" even after looking it up in the style guide? 惑乱 分からん 16:11, 27 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Lede is old newspaper jargon for the first sentences in a story. It was coined by journalists so they could distinguish lede lines from lead stories, or lead type in the printing press. It isn't a typo in this context. - Smerdis of Tlön 19:32, 27 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
(edit conflict) It's not a misspelling, actually, it's a valid alternative spelling. Since printers used to use lead in printing, they starting spelling lead "lede" to distinguish them. User:Angr 19:36, 27 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hmmm, alright, you learn something new every day... 惑乱 分からん 22:57, 27 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The dual spelling is actually discussed in WP:LEAD itself. Peirigill 10:32, 28 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oops! Well, it used to be discussed there. I guess it was edited out. Peirigill 10:40, 28 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

notes in table

What do the notes in the declension table go to? Njál 01:00, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I found the notes in the history — I take it they were accidentally lost, and have replaced them. Njál 01:04, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Who'rt thoo to be thoo'in me?

Several years ago, perhaps as many as fifteen, there was a programme on BBC Radio 4 into the continued use of "thou". One anecdote serves to illustrate two points which I found interesting: the pronunciation and the survival of the everyday use of the formal/informal formal/informal distinction within living memory.

The narrator related how, many years ago in England, he had heard a worker being reprimanded by his superior (I think it was on a farm) for speaking to him in the familiar form (pronounced "thoo", not "tha"):

"Who'rt thoo to be thoo'in me? Ah's you t' thoo!"

Unfortunately further salient details (e.g. region - I think it was somewhere in Yorkshire) have not stuck in my mind. Assuming (a) it was 15 years ago and (b) the narrator was at most 70 years old and (c) he had been at least 10 when he heard the conversation, this example must have taken place in the 1930s. Perhaps the BBC has a recording, even a transcript, of this programme. I'll see what I can find. TraceyR 07:17, 9 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This was most probably a Scots dialect. Scots (unlike Yorkshire dialect, from what I have gathered) never diphthongised Middle English ū. Orkney Scots seems to still have thoo, judging from example sentences I have seen, and Shetlandic has it as du, see here. Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:38, 6 April 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In the 1930s, north Yorkshire would have used thoo rather than the west/south Yorkshire tha. Not sure whether it is still in common usage up there or not. Epa101 (talk) 16:56, 17 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Here is the West Yorkshire equivalent. From Austin Mitchell's Talkin' Yorkshire (page 48): In moments of extreme anger Ossett Fish-puddlers have been known to resent "thou" and reply "Don't thee thou me thee thou thissen and see how tha likes thee thouing" but this is rare. Epa101 (talk) 13:55, 18 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thou used as a replacement to though

I've seen thou be used as a replacement for 'though' on the internet a lot, should it be mentioned? -- 21:32, 30 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't think so. It's not directly related to "thou", it's just a different spelling of "though"/"tho". 惑乱 分からん * \)/ (\ (< \) (2 /) /)/ * 14:15, 11 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Current Usage

Perhaps I misunderstand, but in the "current usage" section under the heading "persistence of second-person singular", the article appears to draw a distinction between "genetive case" and "possessive form". Is this intentional?

The apparent incongruity between the archaic nominative, objective and genitive forms of this pronoun on the one hand and the modern possessive form on the other may be a signal that the linguistic drift of Yorkshire dialect is causing tha to fall into disuse;

Also, might this next senstence be clarified? As is, it seems unclear whether "thy(pronounced 'tha') or "your" is more usual for possession.

The possessive is often written as thy in local dialect writings, but is pronounced as an unstressed tha, and the Possessive form of tha has in modern usage almost exclusively followed other English dialects in becoming yours or the local word your’n (from your one):--Jr mints 16:40, 11 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

In the first quotation, I believe the distinction drawn is between the archaic and modern form of the genitive, not between "genitive" and "possessive."

Regarding the second quotation, it says "almost exclusively followed other English dialects" which suggests, to me, that "your" is more common but "thy" is still acceptable. Perhaps it would be better simply to state it that way, rather than saying the change was followed "almost exclusively," which doesn't seem quite logical. Aureateflux 18:21, 2 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Be that so, I suggest the first segment, for paralellism's sake, use one or other of the terms instead of both. As for the second, I see on one hand that "The possessive is often written as thy" and on the other that "the Possessive form of tha has in modern ussage almost exclusively followed other English dialects in becoming yours." So exactly how often is it written "thy" and how often "your"?--Jr mints 04:17, 11 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
On second look, I also notice that the declension chart of "tha" has sepparate catagories for genetive and "posessive". How is this to be interpretted?--Jr mints 04:30, 11 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This use of "genitive" is idiosyncratic: it seems to refer to the possessive adjective, as in "This is my/your book." "Possessive" is used here for the possessive pronoun, as in "That book is mine/yours."NRPanikker 13:27, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Literary Usage and Shakespeare

The Literary Usage section seems to suggest that Shakespeare is using the second person pronouns loosely. While he does often take liberties with his language (as was his genius), in this case he is following much more complicated usage rules than is being implied by the entry. Most often when Shakespeare alternates between singular and plural second person pronouns, it is deeply embedded in the social context of the scene. For instance, when a character of low rank wishes to insult a character of higher rank (or indicate the character of low rank now has authority over the character of higher rank), Shakespeare has the socially inferior character use the singular (impolite) pronoun. Additionally, when there is a gender difference the females typically use the polite, plural form of the pronoun even when addressing a lover, because they are "socially inferior" to the male. The progression from plural to singular pronouns being used between a woman and her lover therefore tends to follow the progression of the relationship toward increased intimacy.

Changing the entry to reflect this constitutes a fairly significant change in the entry, and as I'm still new at this I would prefer to bring it up in Talk so more experienced hands can refute or acknowledge the suggestion. Aureateflux 18:03, 2 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Second Person Plural

I've noticed that the conjugation for the second person plural (Ye) has not been mentioned in this article at all. For I do believe that it should, indeed, be touched upon beside the information regarding the second person singular (thou knowest, thou knewest, &c.). I would suggest to touch upon the said matter in the regular and irregular forms. I would, of course, construct a table myself or affix such information although, I am uncertain as to whether or not certain individuals have been constructing this article and therefore, would rather not intervene. I hope my suggestion is of some use. (post script: i.e. the equivalent to the German 'Ihr geht', 'Ihr seid', 'Ihr habet', &c.) -- Nalco 20:28, 29 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hm, I am still without response. It is rather humorous that a phrase by 'Manowar' has been touched upon, but not this crucial matter. -- Nalco 18:30, 5 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The old nominative ye has simply been replaced by the originally objective-only form you, that doesn't mean that the conjugation has changed as well. Ye never had any special conjugation in Early Modern English.
As for Manowar, I don't see them mentioned in the article, at least not currently. Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:58, 6 April 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Youse in Most dialects??

Quote: Have youse heard the racket your dog is making?! (Ordinary speech, most dialects) Unquote

surely this is a mistake? "you" is surely the wider used word in this sentence? Dainamo 00:14, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In context, it's referring to dialects in Northern Ireland only, where "youse" is indeed the most common form. —Verrai 00:59, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The term's common in parts of England, too. --Dweller 04:41, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

And in Glasgow. It's often thought of as a plural -s, but in Glasgow you will aslo hear youse used as a singular. I suspect it is an influence from Gaelic, where the suffix -se is added as an intensifier to all kinds of pronouns. --Doric Loon 17:39, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Exactly, the use described here is Scots, not English. The text fails to make the distinction that the use in Scotland of 'youse' is Scots, not English, and implies it is dialectic english. (Another example of people confusing Scots for a dialect of English, I'm afraid.) It should make that clear in the text. Surprising that the article goes to the length of showing usage of second person familiar in (even) Freisian, but fails to distinguish between two other low german languages (English and Scots). The part about northern ireland could be similarly shown to be Scots derived, not English. 21:19, 28 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Current Usage Section

The entire current usage section is full of un-sourced assertions. How did this slip through the FA process? ++Arx Fortis 01:01, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This became an FA in 2003. It's lucky it's this good, to be honest; most articles promoted that long ago had few or no citations at all. —Verrai 01:47, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


This must the the first word article I've seen that is FA-class. I wish more were FA-class. Keep up the good work! THROUGH FIRE JUSTICE IS SERVED! 02:05, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Why is "thou" italicized throughout the article? It does not seem necessary or correct to do so. ~ UBeR 02:33, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is per our manual of style. When words are used as words (and not used to indicate the thing they mean), they are italicized to denote the distinction. For example, "The word good-bye derives from the phrase God be with ye." — Amcaja (talk) 03:52, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I see. I wonder how long it's been in there, because I don't remember reading that bit. Thanks for the clarification. ~ UBeR 06:19, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is also the convention in the field of linguistics, so you will see this sort of italicization in linguistic literature as well.--Aureateflux 18:11, 21 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Unverified claims?

A featured article, on a seemingly trivial and innocuous topic, on the main page, with unverified claims? Cribananda 02:43, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I was wondering about this as well, when I say that I was surprised that it was put on the main page. --Credema 03:35, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I sent a message to Raul654 about it. ~ PHDrillSergeant...§ 03:43, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"trivial and innocuous" are irrelevant and POV. Claims of OR are (very) serious. --Dweller 04:40, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It becomes OR once there are large chunks of material that are both not common knowledge and without proper citations. This article includes OR, no doubt. The idea is to make the information presented verifiable. (Again, Wikipedia should be about verifiability, not truth.) At the present, there a good amount of material I am not able to do this with. It needs to be fixed or remedied one way or another, or it ought not be labeled featured (or even be presented on Wikipedia). So yes, WP:OR is a serious problem. ~ UBeR 06:21, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Great Article

I've just read through most of it, and it is of a utmost high standard, and with all the relevant details included! Great job! 03:33, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


First off, congrats to all editors involved, excellent article. I was just curious, should this article not be locked for editing now that it's featured on the main page? Ptanham 08:48, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No. This is Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Pretty poor lookout if they can't edit our showcase article of the day! --Dweller 09:29, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No Project

It's funny, this is the first FA I've seen that is not supported by any WikiProject.--SidiLemine 10:05, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Current religious usage

The use of "thou" by those who hold to a King-James-Only position (or are sympathetic to it) and by those who could be said to belong to the Continuing Anglican movement (especially on the matter of the Book of Common Prayer) might be worth mentioning. Additionally, although I am less sure about this, some English-speaking muslims may use thee and thou in a religious context. Greenshed 10:40, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Kaiser Chiefs

Great article. Is it worth mentioning that the Kaiser Chiefs used "thee" in I Predict a Riot? The use of this supposedly archaic word in a hit single from one of Britain's trendiest bands seems noteworthy. Mattmm 11:33, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't think so. Sounds trivial to me, and "trendier" is a bit POV if you ask me.--SidiLemine 15:00, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Given that the article already references Star Wars and Marvel Comics, I find that an odd comment. And "trendy" isn't POV: they've won major awards and headlined all the larger rock festivals. Mattmm 21:12, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think that this is worth mentioning. As Mattmm says, it shows how unaware the general listening public is that the word "thee" is still in current use. The important things are (1) to put it in the right place – not under "trivia" or some such – and (2) to cite an authoratitive reviewer who remarked on the "archaic" word. Scolaire 06:28, 14 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've added it myself in the Persistence of second-person singular section. Top of the Pops may not be the most authoritative source but it's the best I can find at the moment. Scolaire 13:50, 15 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Nicely worded, Scolaire. Thanks. Mattmm 14:11, 15 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thought that was you, Matt :-) Glad you liked it. Scolaire 17:31, 17 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, I was so excited about the change I forgot to log on :) Mattmm 20:12, 18 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Bold proposal re unverified section

I propose to comment out the entire current usage section as unverified, while this is on the Main Page. Anyone dissent? --Dweller 11:43, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

OK. I'm being bold. Please would someone ensure the section is restored, with a tag, after the article comes off Main page. --Dweller 12:21, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have restored the section and added a number of key citations. At this point, I think it makes more sense to identify and tag any particular claims that you think are under-documented. -Harmil 16:48, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Comparison table

This really needs another column at the left for Old English, and arguably another left of that for Proto-Indo-European. --Doric Loon 15:53, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


In the last sentence of the first paragraph, the author says that þ^u was used in Middle English as an abreviation of the word thou. No example or source is given for this. And, as I have understood þ was no longer in use during the days of Middle English. Therefore, if such an abbreviation exist, it seems to me that "Middle English" as the author uses it is actually a misnomer for Old English and that þ^u is an abbreviation of þu rather than thou. However, be the author correct, please show me wrong. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 02:25, 31 December 2006 (UTC).Reply[reply]

Also the character shown in the last sentance of the first paragraph is wynn and not thorn. The writer needs to work on their early modern English alphabet. User:SKC 20:47 (UTC) 6 Feb 2007

Actually, that abbreviation is quite common, and the similar abbreviations þe (the) þt (that), wt (what) are common also. David Harris cites these uses in The Art of Calligraphy, under the Bastard Secretary section. There is reproduced a page of the manuscript Adam and Eve, where þt and þu see use, dating from around 1415. Hope this helps. P.S. I can scan the plate if you wish. P. P. S. On a tangent, þe is the origin of "Ye" as in Ye Olde Pub" or whatever, not the pronoun of the same spelling, owing to the similarity in later scripts between thorn and Y. Indeed, ye sees use as late as the 18th century in George Bickam's famous The Universal Penman. --♦♦♦Vlmastra♦♦♦ 01:55, 13 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oh, I just spotted the place it's used in the article. Don't know how I missed it since it's in the first paragraph. To User:SKC, it most certainly is not wynn, since wynn fell out of use long before this symbol did. Actually, this later form of þ is almost indistinguishable from some Y forms used at the time (hence the dot one will often find above Y's in English manuscripts to differentiate the two). In fact, in very early printing, continental printers would sometimes use y in place of thorn when printing English since they did not possess the punch for thorn, though the use of 'th' in place of thorn was standardized quickly (it dates from before printing, mind you). In fact this substitution may have influenced ye as noted above. So the abbreviation definitely does have a basis!! Come to think of it, I think I am going to scan the plate mentioned above, since it will make a good demonstration. Edit: done. --♦♦♦Vlmastra♦♦♦ 02:41, 15 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Quaker use of “thee” and “thou”

In using “thee” and “thou” and refusing to remove their hats when before representatives of Authority, early Quakers struck a blow against the very deferential structure of 17th century English society. Quakers justified their practice by asking where such deference was written in the law or the scriptures and referring to passages in the Bible that supported their case:

Before this, while I was prisoner in Lancaster Castle, the book called the Battledore was published, which was written to show that in all languages Thou and Thee is the proper and usual form of speech to a single person; and You to more than one[1]

. This was set forth in examples or instances taken from the Scriptures, and books of teaching, in about thirty languages. J. Stubbs and Benjamin Furly took great pains in compiling it, which I set them upon; and some things I added to it.

When it was finished, copies were presented to the King and his Council, to the Bishops of Canterbury and London, and to the two universities one each; and many purchased them. The King said it was the proper language of all nations; and the Bishop of Canterbury, being asked what he thought of it, was at a stand, and could not tell what to say to it. For it did so inform and convince people, that few afterwards were so rugged toward us for saving Thou and Thee to a single person, for which before they were exceedingly fierce against us.

Thou and Thee was a sore cut to proud flesh, and them that sought self-honour, who, though they would say it to God and Christ, could not endure to have it said to themselves. So that we were often beaten and abused, and sometimes in danger of our lives, for using those words to some proud men, who would say, "What! you ill-bred clown, do you Thou me?" as though Christian breeding consisted in saying You to one; which is contrary to all their grammars and teaching books, by which they instructed their youth. George Fox: Journal, 1661.


There are many other references in Fox's Journal to the refusal of deference, under the Quaker testimony of “plainness”, and the anger caused in those who believed this deference as their due.

"Plain speech" in the United Kingdon was in retreat in the 1860s, along with other aspects of Quaker distinctiveness, I believe.Vernon White . . . Talk 07:58, 13 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thou in LOTR

I remember my first encounter (as a non native english speaker) with 'thou', and it's declinaison was in Tolkien Lord of the Rings... However, I don't have the english version at home, so I cannot check if there is sufficient use in there to make its way to this article. I remember more specifically its use in the final appendixes to the book. If somebody feels the will to check... Whistopathe 09:54, 15 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

He (Tolkein) says himself (in one of his author's notes, can't remember which) that he represents the speech of the Rohirrim with the use of thou, but in his words he used this device inconsistently. I haven't read those books in a couple of years, but as I remember thou appears only very sparingly. --♦♦♦Vlmastra♦♦♦ 15:08, 15 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

i think thou should be put back in to use and shakespear should it has been sooo good —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:09, 10 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Added some Monty Python Holy Grail quotes

Can't have a decent discussion about thou and thee (or swallows -- African or European?) without it! Mtsmallwood (talk) 09:10, 14 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Þu and thou

there currently is some information in this article about thou's old english ansestor, Þu. I was thinking that due to the lack of information in the Þu article, some of the information could be moved to that article, and then the Þu article could either be linked or transcluded into thou. any comments?02:51, 15 May 2008 (UTC)


In the introduction, it says that thou is now only used in religious contexts and in certain phrases. Later on in the article, it says that thou is still used in parts of England: Yorkshire and parts of the West Country.

I live in Yorkshire, and am not sure what to recommend. Thou (or tha as we say it) can still be heard but is unlikely to be said by anyone under 40. Frequently, younger people use it to take the piss out of their elders or to do a (self-)parody of a Yorkshire-person. These are just my observations, of course: is there any research on this at all? It would be interesting to pinpoint the year when thou becomes extinct in popular usage of English-speakers. Epa101 (talk)

The usual date given for the extinction of thou only applies to the dialect of English that became recognised as the standard from the 15th century on, namely that of the Leicester area, which later spread to the southeast of England. Westcountry English, Yorkshire English and Scots were not affected by this originally. Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:51, 5 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  1. ^ A Battle-Door for Teachers & Professors to learn Singular and Plural; You to Many, and Thou to One: Singular One, Thou; Plural Many, You, . . ., London: Printed for Robt. Wilson, and are to be sold at his Shop at the Signe of the Black-Spread-Eagle and Wind-Mil in Martins le Grand, 1660