Sunday, May 22, 2011

Back to basics

I wanted to learn whether we ever had a formal “you” and a familiar “you” in old English. We did. “Thee” is for family and other intimates, and “ye” is for everybody else. But the more interesting part of the Wikipedia article explaining it is the fact that the English language has cases too, but I didn’t know what they were called. In Russian they are called Падеж, which I long ago improperly transliterated to padej. I had a really hard time figuring them out, so I am very amused to know that I’d actually seen them in grade school.

Here’s a table cribbed from Wikipedia.

Russian also has the first three of these cases, but I never imagined that we ever did too. I’m still not sure whether this stuff counts because the Russians have so many (MANY) more uses for them. But it takes a little of the wind out of my self-righteous sails to know that we’ve actually been using these things successfully in English for a long time.

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