Second person singular

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Fri Jun 27 20:22:06 UTC 2008

This may have been discussed here before, but the explanation I recall
is that the Friends (Quakers) believed everyone should be equal, so
they used "thou" (familiar) in situations where everyone else used
"you" (formal). In order to escape from being labelled a Friend,
"thou" was shunned. This is something I *heard* in a class, so please
take it with a grain of salt. BB

On Jun 27, 2008, at 5:55 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> A correspondent on another list asks:
>> Are there any really good in-depth studies or explanations of why
>> the second person singular went out of use in English in
>> this  period? [That is, the 18th century.]
>> It remained in use in most other languages, so the explanataion must
>> be peculiar to English speakers.
>> Was it just that the second person plural is shorter and has fewer
>> consonants e.g. "you know " rather than "thou knowest" - or is there
>> a better explanation?

The American Dialect Society -

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