Re: [tied] Re: Formal and Informal 2nd Person

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 2974
Date: 2000-08-05

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, August 05, 2000 1:28 AM
Subject: [tied] Re: Formal and Informal 2nd Person

Nemo wrote:

>...When you speak Latin it may be sometimes
embarrassing: you have to address e.g. a noble old professor
with 2nd sg. But in Classical Latin there is simply no other way.
English has no 2sg./pl. distinction, so English speakers should not feel embarrassed (unless they know some foreign languages that interfere with their Latin).
BTW Swedish used to employ familiar du vs. formal Ni, but the latter is rarely used nowadays except by elderly people, AFAIK.
Poles often find it embarrassing that English has so few degrees of politeness. You switch to first-name terms too abruptly, by our standards. I'm formally "pan (Piotr) Gasiorowski" to a casual acquaintance, "pan Piotr" to somebody who knows me well but isn't exactly a close friend, and "Piotr" or "Piotrek" to my friends and family, colleagues at work, friendly neighbours, etc. It's the informal-but-polite "pan Piotr" stage that doesn't exist in English. You can call a person "Mr (William) Fowler", "William" or "Bill", but not "Mr William".

Danny Wier wrote:

> I reckon Polish and Russian polite forms came about via French
> influence...
Nemo wrote:

I doubt. As Piotr wrote " In Polish, wy (pl.) can be used as a
polite counterpart of ty (sg.) in conservative rural dialects"
and, IMHO, conservative Polish rural dialects aren't likely to
have had contacts with French.
However, rural dialects may conserve polite forms which used to be standard some time ago. As a matter of fact, "wy" was a polite form of address in earlier Polish, when "pan" was used exclusively by the nobly born (and even "pan" was accompanied a verb in the 2pl.: "co robicie, panie? [what are you doing, my lord?]" as opposed to the modern "co pan robi?" [what is my lord doing?]). This plural of respect is pretty old in the Slavic languages. I think it's ultimately due to late Latin/early Romance influence rather than modern French.
Piotr Gasiorowski wrote:

>There is a classical monograph devoted to T/V (tu/vos) forms of
>address by Brown and Hanlon, but I don't remember its
>bibliographical details. If >anyone's interested I may look for them.

Nemo wrote:
If it only isn't a trouble for you, I'd be interested.
OK, but it may take some time. My departmental library is closed this month.