Friday, August 3, 2007

A loaf of bread .... and thou!

Kumusta po kayo?

That's "hello, how are you," in Tagalog, the principal language of the Philippines.

It's the "formal" way to say it.

I find it fascinating that from England to Spain, Hungary to the aforementioned Philippines, pretty much all over the world, languages recognize a formal and an informal level of speaking. Spanish has tu and usted, Hungarian teged and on.

English has it, too. Or had it. In the old days, thou and thee were the informal, and you was formal. Eventually, all of us English speakers (except the Quakers, apparently) simply started speaking in the formal tense to each other and thee and thou became quaint, archaic, rarely used, its original intent forgotten, preserved and used only in ecclestiastical and scriptoral settings.

5 comments:

Rebecca said...

All I need is a bottle of wine, a loaf of bread and thou. A phrase a good friend wrote to my husband on his birthday a year or two ago. I thought it incorrect to say thou, I thought it should be thee instead. I was mistaken, but I still know not why. I meant to look into the difference between thee and thou, but wound up distracted...

eastcoastdweller said...

It's from the Rubyat of Omar Khayyam.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

If I were Rebecca, I would be more concerned that someone was quoting love poetry to my husband than whether or not it was grammatically correct.

Just kidding. This was quite informative.

eastcoastdweller said...

Susan: If only it were re-formative instead of merely informative. Then we could all knock a point or two off our driving records or fret a little less about passing through the Pearly Gates.

Rebecca said...

I doubt the person quoting the line to my husband had any idea of its origin or true meaning. Besides, it was a man who relayed the sentiment to my husband. Even if he felt/feels that way, my husband most assuredly does not!