Tuesday, 30 March 2010

'What is thy bidding, my master?'

Strange the way 'you' and 'thou' have effectively changed placed in contemporary English usage. 'You' is now familiar, where 'thou' sounds archaic and stiffly formal and therefore more mannered and respectful. Of course, strictly speaking, 'you' is polite/formal and 'thou' de haut en bas, cheeky, friendly or intimate.

The prize of an orange to whomsover identifies the source of the title quotation. Suffice to say, it's from a popular culture text, and is uttered by a respectful junior to a powerful senior in a particular heirarchy.

6 comments:

rog peppe said...

um, half-orc to Saruman, perhaps?

Adam Roberts Project said...

No orange for Rog, alas.

mahendra singh said...

Darth Vader to the Emperor … the George Bush and Dick Cheneys of the future

Adam Roberts Project said...

And Mahendra wins the orange! Plus the special additional prize of a small tangerine, for the extra political satire.

mahendra singh said...

Satire? What satire?

John said...

It is from Empire Strikes Back, of course. And it is used correctly. "Thy" is a second-person singlular form, and the Emperor is indeed singular.

Anyone who thinks "thou", "thee" and "thy" cannot be used by an inferior to a superior, or that it is inconsistent with respect, need look no further than the King James translation of the bible.