'Thou' and 'You'

This is the full read-only archive of the "Ask the Wordwizard" section of the original Wordwizard site. The responses to the questions originate from Jonathon Green, the compiler of the Cassell Dictionary of Slang and numerous other dictionaries.
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'Thou' and 'You'

Post by Archived Topic » Thu Jan 28, 1999 12:00 am

What is the difference between "thou" and "you", particularly as used in Whitman's "Passage to India"?
Submitted by Batya Lederfein (Netanya - Israel)
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'Thou' and 'You'

Post by Jonathon Green » Tue Feb 02, 1999 8:00 am

'Thou' is a now obsolete (in English) means of conveying the second-person singular, which in such languages as French or German implies a definite intimacy. To address someone with whom one is not intimate, the second-person plural, translated as 'you' is preferred. Today the divison, while still present in these languages and others, would be archaic in English.
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