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  #1  
Old 06-16-1999, 10:32 AM
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In german, the second-person plural object is ihr, and the indirect object is ihnen. You were correct in saying the polite form is always "sie".

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The mailbag item being discussed is What do "thou," "thee," and "thine" mean, and why don't we use them anymore? -- CKDext
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  #2  
Old 06-17-1999, 03:39 AM
Guest
 
Except that "Ihr", "Ihnen", "Sie", etc. are always capitalized when referring to the second person plural. (The female third person singular has the same forms, but all lower case.) The second person singular pronouns, "dich", "dir", "dein", "du" are capitalized if and only if they address the reader, as in a letter. BTW, I'd be curious to learn how THAT developed, if anyone out there should happen to know.

Holger
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  #3  
Old 06-18-1999, 09:42 AM
Guest
 
Only "Sie" = "you (formal)" and its other cases (including "Ihr") is always capitalized. "Du" and "ihr" = "you (informal plural)" are capitalized only at the beginning of sentences. ("Ihr" = "you (informal plural), of course, is relatively uncommon in print to begin with, since it would gernerally be used only to address a group of children or servants.)

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John W. Kennedy
"Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays."
-- Charles Williams
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  #4  
Old 06-18-1999, 04:28 PM
Guest
 
"Du" is also capitalized when addressing the reader, not only at the beginning of the sentence.

My teachers told me this was a matter of courtesy, emphasising the importance of the one you were addressing.
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  #5  
Old 06-18-1999, 08:41 PM
Guest
 
The annals of time may show some connexion between written latin and german. The story I recall tells of the German translation being copied below the latin, thus putting the verb at the end of the clauses and the capitalization of many nouns & pronouns. Being the orderly sort, Germans had a hard time dropping the habit, which crops up from time to time in English.

Anyone support/decry this story?

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  #6  
Old 06-19-1999, 02:04 AM
Guest
 
I don't know if i'm nit picking or correcting an obvious mistake, but I was taught that it is Ihren, not irnen. The fact that two people have commented on the same mistake made it impossible for me to overlook.

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  #7  
Old 06-19-1999, 02:05 AM
Guest
 
Sorry, Ihren, not ihnen.

Too many beers tonite.

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The facts expressed here belong to everybody, the opinions to me. The distinction is
yours to draw...

Omniscient; BAG
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  #8  
Old 06-19-1999, 05:18 AM
Guest
 
<< Being the orderly sort, Germans had a hard time dropping the habit, which crops up from time to time in English. >>

Tree, after you hang here a little longer, you'll learn that this is more properly expressed:
"The orderly sort being, Germans a hard time had the habit dropping, which from time to time in English crops up."

So, did Yoda learn English in a German school?
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  #9  
Old 06-21-1999, 04:49 AM
Guest
 
Funny what confusion a small error can cause... When I wrote about "second person plural", I meant of course "second person formal". That is the only way the forms "Ihr", "Ihnen", "Sie", etc. go together. The actual second person plural (informal) has forms such as "ihr", "euch", "eure" and has the same rule for capitalization as the singular. The uncommon variant John W. Kennedy referred to was not what I meant. So sorry...

Holger
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  #10  
Old 06-21-1999, 08:18 AM
Guest
 
There are two interesting things underlying this thread. One, the elimination of the second person singular from English, and two, the use of the third person plural to denote the general or unspecified grammatical subject. The latter practice is grammatically dubious, replacing the construction using the subject "one."

The former practice is interesting because in French the tendency is towards the singular, whereas in English it is towards the plural.

All the more unfortunate the former practice is, because the language by one beautiful grammatical subject become poorer has.
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  #11  
Old 06-21-1999, 10:30 AM
Guest
 
In Italian, the formal form is, as in German, similar to the word for "she". I am told that this is because the Italian word for "lordship" (as in "your lordship") is grammatically feminine.

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John W. Kennedy
"Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays."
-- Charles Williams
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  #12  
Old 06-26-1999, 10:25 PM
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Note a mistake:

Quote:
(Thus Queen Victoria, in saying "we are not amused," was presumably speaking for the Empire.)
This is actually a well-known affectation called the royal "we", and is used by sovereigns to show how snotty they are. It is used less and less, for example by Queen Elizabeth.
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  #13  
Old 06-26-2000, 04:50 PM
dougie_monty dougie_monty is offline
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Note that Spanish--and perhaps Portuguese--do the same thing. "Usted" and "ustedes" are third-person forms and take the third-person verb inflections; the second-person pronouns or te and vosotros and os are only used in a "familiar" context--and vosotros itself apparently only in Spain.
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  #14  
Old 06-27-2000, 01:32 AM
Boris B Boris B is offline
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A Queen Vic question

Did Victoria say "We are not amused" at some specific famous event, or was it just the kind of thing she liked to say? I've heard this expression a lot and am curious.

Speaking of royal chics and turns of phrase ... how about, "Let them eat cake!"? I understand that is was a reference to Marie Antoinette not understanding that poor just don't have any cake. Was Antoinette quoted as saying this before at some specific event (surely she didn't say it at her head-chopping?), or is this just some old thang somebody attributed to her in general? Somebody said here house was captured by revolutionaries who heard her say it ... but that just makes me more curious, did she say it on the P.A. and piss off a lot of hungry Jacobins

Or should I post these separately on GQ?
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Sorry, no, I don't have a cite for that.
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  #15  
Old 06-27-2000, 02:30 AM
Hohenstein Hohenstein is offline
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Thou, thee, thine

Queen Victoria heard an off-color joke from someone in her court and responded "We are not amused". The sexually repressed Victorian age is a reflection of her own repression after Prince Albert died. She apparently was a healthy woman with normal libido until his death.

"Let them eat cake" was not a reference to our dessert but to the caked wheat chaff left over from the mill. When the cry was for bread, she could just as well said, "let them eat dirt". News of her remark was something that added fuel to the fire.
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  #16  
Old 06-27-2000, 07:56 AM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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The mailbag item being discussed is «What do "thou," "thee," and "thine" mean, and why don't we use them anymore?»

What Marie-Antoinette is reported to have said is «Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.» «Brioche», as far as I know, is a rich french bread made with eggs and sugar. Hohenstein, where did you find out that in the late 18th century it meant «caked wheat chaff left over from the mill»?
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  #17  
Old 06-27-2000, 09:04 AM
missbunny missbunny is offline
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Brioche is what Arnold said. I learned that when M.A. said "Let them eat cake" (which she probably never really said anyway) she did it out of ignorance - i.e., living in the world she lived in, she just assumed that if bread weren't available, why wouldn't one just eat brioche or pastries or lobster in cream sauce instead.

This is just another possible explanation of what she said; it could be untrue also.
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  #18  
Old 06-27-2000, 12:44 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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Tree writes:

> The story I recall tells of the German translation being
> copied below the latin, thus putting the verb at the end
> of the clauses and the capitalization of many nouns &
> pronouns. Being the orderly sort, Germans had a hard time
> dropping the habit, which crops up from time to time in
> English.

From what I remember from my graduate work in linguistics, this isn't true. This just isn't the sort of thing that causes word order changes. We have records of German from earlier times, and there's no tendency to SVO (subject/verb/object) ordering in earlier writings, rather than the modern SOV. Furthermore, it's more likely that word order in proto-Germanic (the ancestor of German, English, Dutch, and the Scandanavian languages) was either SOV or free word order.
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  #19  
Old 06-27-2000, 03:37 PM
dtilque dtilque is offline
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Quote:
This is just another possible explanation of what she said; it could be untrue also.
Strangely enough, Cecil agrees with this possibility: http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a2_334.html
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  #20  
Old 06-27-2000, 04:03 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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Thank you dtilque! Once again, I read something in Cecil Adams' column and then forget whence I got the information.
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