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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: December ::
Re: You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 939.  Wednesday, 15 Dec. 1993.
 
(1)     From:   James Harner <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 Dec 1993 10:21:28 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   RE: SHK 4.0936  You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work
 
(2)     From:   David A. Bank <
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        Date:   Tuesday,14 Dec 93 19:25:43 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0936 You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work
 
(3)     From:   John Gouws <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 Dec 1993 22:01:50 +0200 (EET)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0936  You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work
 
(4)     From:   Herb Donow <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 Dec 93 16:15:42 CST
        Subj:   Pronouns
 
(5)     From:   Skip Shand <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 Dec 1993 20:05 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0936  You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work
 
(6)     From:   Steve Urkowitz <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 Dec 93 21:18:40 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0936  You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work
 
(7)     From:   David Carnegie <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 15 Dec 1993 20:20:55 +1200
        Subj:   SHK 4.0936  You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James Harner <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 Dec 1993 10:21:28 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 4.0936  You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work
Comment:        RE: SHK 4.0936  You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work
 
Two recent studies are:
 
Calvo, Clara. "'Too wise to woo peaceably': The Meanings of *Thou* in
Shakespeare's Wooing-Scenes." *Actas del III Congreso internacional
de la Sociedad espanola de estudios renacentistas ingleses (SEDERI).
Ed. Maria Luisa Danobeitia. Granada: SEDERI, 1992. 49-59.
 
Mazzon, Gabriella. "Shakespearean 'thou' and 'you' Revisited, or
Socio-Affective Networks on Stage." *Early Modern English: Trends,
Forms, and Texts. Ed. Carmela Nocera Avila et al. Fasano: Schena,
1992. 121-36.
 
                        Jim Harner
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David A. Bank <
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Date:           Tuesday,14 Dec 93 19:25:43 GMT
Subject: 4.0936 You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0936 You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work
 
In Shakespeare's time, discourse rules about you/thou were breaking
down and this is frequently reflected in his plays. But there are
many examples in which his use of the distinction is strongly marked -
opening the _Coll. Wks._ at random (KL, 3.1)
 
      ...Enter KENT and a Gentleman, severally
 
    Kent.]  Who's there, besides foul weather?
    Gent.]  One minded like the weather, most unquietly.
    Kent.]  I know you. Where's the king?
                                          .....
    Kent.] Sir, I do know you,
           And dare, upon the warrant of my note,
           Commend a dear thing to to you.
 
The above reflects *both* uses of 'you' as described in Jon Massa's
EM; for Kent, though in fact 'Gent's' superior, is disguised as a
serving-man and therefore addresses him as inferior to superior - and
at the same time as one who though known by a serving man, does not
expect his 'superior' to "know" *him*. Kent thus avoids the offence
of presumption.
 
Act 2 scene 2 is particularly rich in examples of (marked) use of
both you/thou, in the comic exchanges between Kent and Oswald, then
Kent and Oswald to Cornwall who intervenes to break up their quarrel,
and then - towards the end - Kent and Gloucester. But I'm not sure
about Sh's consistency at e.g.
 
    Corn.]  Fetch forth the stocks.
            You stubborn ancient knave, you reverend braggart,
            We'll teach you.
 
I don't know an extensive treatment of the subject; any book on
Shakespeare's language should give some help, but I've not found
one that's unembarrassed by difficulty. Perhaps someone else has.
 
John Massa also asks for "any other comments about the significance
of" the you/thou distinction. Yep. It blows that argument for
paraphrase right out of the water. What you/thou links up with is
Shakespeare's ventriloquistic mastery of *register* - try, for example,
the first six lines of the play for Courtierese. If, instead of
telling students how to construe, you tell them to put the passage
into modernspeak, they'll be deaf to the *voices* and grow cloth ears.
 
   David Bank
   University of Glasgow
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Gouws <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 Dec 1993 22:01:50 +0200 (EET)
Subject: 4.0936  You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0936  You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work
 
You could try Charles Barber, _Early Modern English_ (Andre Deutsch,
1976), and Manfred Gorlach, _Introduction to Early Modern English_
(CUP, 1991).
 
     John Gouws - Department of English - Rhodes University
     P.O. Box 94 - Grahamstown 6140 - South Africa
     Internet: 
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   Telephone: (0461) 318402 or 318400
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Herb Donow <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 Dec 93 16:15:42 CST
Subject:        Pronouns
 
John Massa raises the question about you/thou.  An interesting passage
involving similar issues (although primarily concerned with I/We) comes in
Hamlet (I.ii.64 ff.).  After avoiding him as long as he can, Claudius turns to
Hamlet and speaks to him familiarly ("my cousin Hamlet, and my son"), perhaps
in the same tone of avuncular joviality he has just been using with Laertes.
Hamlet, however, rebuffs him and at the end of the long speech on mourning,
Claudius winds up with "our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son." Even to a
modern and native speaker of English, the shift in usage rings a loud bell.  It
makes Claudius seem a bit of a social klutz.
 
Herb Donow
Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Skip Shand <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 Dec 1993 20:05 EDT
Subject: 4.0936  You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0936  You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work
 
Toni Dorfman, of the Theatre Department at the University of Missouri,
Kansas City, wrote an intriguing paper on the you/thou shifts in *Timon*
for last year's SAA seminar on actorly reading. I'm sure she'd be happy to
send it to you, if you contacted her by snail-mail. Among her references
on the subject:
 
        Richard Flatter, *Shakespeare's Producing Hand* (New York, 1948)
        Francis Berry, *Poet's Grammar: Person, Time, and Mood in Poetry*
                (London, 1958)
        Delbert Spain, *Shakespeare Sounded Soundly* (Los Angeles, 1988)
 
(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Urkowitz <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 Dec 93 21:18:40 EST
Subject: 4.0936  You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0936  You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work
 
For a quick but dangerous lesson on "thou", try saying "tu madre" even with a
smile to a Spanish speaker.  Improperly intimate "thou" would prompt similar
explosions among Early Modern speakers of English.  An excellent dissertation
on all of these interesting language codes is "Shakespeare's Use of the Forms
of Address (Brandeis, 1967), by Carol Ann Heeschen Replogle.  I don't know if
any of it was ever published.  It should have been.
 
                                   Steve You-rkowitz
                                   City College of New York
 
(7)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Carnegie <
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Date:           Wednesday, 15 Dec 1993 20:20:55 +1200
Subject: You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work
Comment:        SHK 4.0936  You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work
 
A good succinct summary on you/thou is in Randolph Quirk's
chapter,'Shakespeare and the English Language', in Kenneth Muir and Sam
Schoenbaum, eds, *A New Companion to Shakespeare Studies* (Cambridge,
1971).
 

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