Showing posts with label morphology change. Show all posts
Showing posts with label morphology change. Show all posts

30 July 2011

Morphological change

Published by Kenneth S. Doig

Second person pronouns in English A system of honorifics, as in continental European languages in which there is one pronominal form for formal address and one for familiar address, never really caught on in English, despite a French model to follow. It is true that there were separate forms for the second personal pronouns in the singular and plural. It is also true that the singular was used for familiar address and the plural for more formal address. However, the English system showed one feature which is incompatible with a pronominally differentiated address system such as French, German, Russian, etc. 

 It was possible to use the singular or plural form of address with one and the same individual on different occasions. Now one clear characteristic of continental systems is that you either use the T-form (familiar) or the V-form (formal) but you do not mix them. However, this is precisely what the English did. Hamlet uses different forms (thou versus you) when addressing his mother on different occasions.

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