Into your hands I entrust my spirit

By Kojazz, in 'Latin Phrases', May 2, 2009.

  1. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    Cygnea, Gena
    Re: A Sincere and Urgent request for help

    No, it was still spoken in the 16th/17th century, which was when it was gradually being replaced by 'you' ... however, some dialects of English (the undemocratic ones of course) have retained it up to the present day
  2. Matthaeus Vemortuicida strenuus

    Re: A Sincere and Urgent request for help

    Scisne ubi de hoc legere possim, praesterim de mutatione linguae anglicae?
  3. fievos New Member

    Re: A Sincere and Urgent request for help

    Well that's why I call it "pop-linguistic" rather than "linguistic". The full explanation is certainly more complicated. People make the opposite claim about Japanese, that it has so many words for "you" because Japan is a highly hierarchical country.

    Of course some dialects of English still use "thou", in their case for its friendly overtones rather than because they're "undemocratic". You have the same trade-off between politeness/potential coldness and intimacy/potential rudeness when using tu/vous in French. Anyway, I was making the point that people stopped using "thee"/"thou"/"thy" for practical reasons, not because they were lazy or didn't understand their own language.
  4. fievos New Member

    Re: A Sincere and Urgent request for help

    Here's the wikipedia explanation:

    Anglo-Saxon (Old English) had no distinction between formal and informal "you". In the 13th century, the term "ye" was used as a formal version of "thou" (to superiors or non-intimates) — however, this use was often contextually-dependent (i.e., changing dynamically according to shifting nuances in the relationship between two people), rather than static. By the 17th century, "thou" increasingly acquired connotations of contemptuous address, or of addressing one's social inferiors (so the prosecutor in Sir Walter Raleigh's 1603 trial declaimed "I thou thee, thou traitor!"). Therefore, the frequency of use of "thou" started to decline, and it was effectively extinct in the everyday speech of many dialects by the early 18th century. Its use is now archaic except in certain regional dialects, usually as "tha", and Modern English today makes no T-V distinction.


    Sorry to digress so much on the history of the English language, mattheus, but the question of why languages change is quite an interesting topic with broader implications.
  5. fievos New Member

    Re: A Sincere and Urgent request for help

    And there does seem to be a Latin connection :)

    (again from
  6. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    Cygnea, Gena
    Re: A Sincere and Urgent request for help

    Mihi commendatus est liber hic:

    Baugh, Albert C. and Thomas Cable: A History of the English Language. 5th ed. London: Routledge 2005.

    Quo in libro multa generalia explicantur, quamquam nonnulla dicuntur de quibus hodie aliter cogitatur. Si autem nihil aliud ante legisti, librum iudicabis optimum.

    If that's true, it makes you wonder why that change took place when England was still an all-out monarchy. The bill of rights wasn't passed until the end of the 17th century. Such explanations serve no scientific purpose.

    The general answer a linguist would give would be "We don't know" :p Very often, the influence of certain dialects or other languages has a great impact ... hardly ever does it change for political reasons.

    This is even older than the 4th century. Even Cicero often spoke about himself in the plural. English did a lot in the attempt to imitate some Latin constructions. I suppose Latin even had an impact on the emergence of tenses like the (will-)future or the pluperfect.

Share This Page


Our Latin forum is a community for discussion of all topics relating to Latin language, ancient and medieval world.

Latin Boards on this Forum:

English to Latin, Latin to English translation, general Latin language, Latin grammar, Latine loquere, ancient and medieval world links.