Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Vy and Ty, atd.

Ever wondered about Vy and Ty, or Vous and Tu, or Sie and Du? If you really get linguistic, perhaps you even wonder about the archaic English form Thou. If your curiosity on this issue troubles you at night, read this book review or even the book itself. Quite a few European languages are covered, including Czech and Finnish. I must say I was surprised to learn that polite usage has been historically very unstable in many European languages over the past thousand years or so. Then again, I am always uncertain when to use Vy and Ty. In theory, one uses Vy for multiple people or to be respectful, but generally when I try to use Vy, I get Ty in response. I think this means that people do not regard me as an elderly person of high organizational rank.
The book itself (which I haven't read) is:
Taavitsainen, Irma and Andreas H Jucker, eds. (2003) Diachronic Perspectives on Address Term Systems, John Benjamins Publishing
Company, Pragmatics and Beyond New Series 107
The review is by Margaret Sonmez.

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Blogger P'tit-Loup said...

May I say again that I love your blog?

Well with this, I must add that as someone who grew up speaking french and addressing all adults and aunts and uncles with "vous," I have been very happy to move to the less formal "tu" with many folks I would have been instructed by my parents to address with "vous." I think that the latter part of the 20th century has wrecked havoc on these old time custom that were ditched in English in the 19th century. I think also the prolification of english in many other countries has contributed to the demise of the more formal form of address. I think you can be safe using Ty in most instances unless you are addressing someone who is particularly stuffy such as a member of the clergy, a judge or some other very official person. But that is just my perception as someone who grew up speaking french in quebec.

I'll se if I can track down the book and consider their take on the formal address style of many euro languages.

Happy New Year to you, Kiss the Praha skies for me!

December 28, 2005 7:35 AM  
Blogger Karla said...

Thank you again. I think that Vy has probably stuck a little more here than French-Canadian Vous, but has loosened up considerably. One always uses it in stores, but it is hard to know whether to use it with older people one sees regularly. I should query all the Czech-speaking Fulbright grantees on how much they use Vy, and with whom.

December 28, 2005 10:49 AM  

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