Monday, May 25, 2015

Thou, thee, thy, thine, etc.

We no longer speak the King's English, but many conservative churches still cling to the King James Version of the Bible in their worship services.

I have no personal problem with that, but the people must be given a primer on the Ancient English, seeing that Shakespeare's works are not taught like they were in my day.

There are two major issues in the misuse of the English Language. Modern egalitarian usage does not segregate personal pronouns for persons in different social classes. Today, "you" is used to refer to any person, no matter whether they be family, or royalty. Not so, the King James English!

In the 1600's, the "ye" group was reserved for royalty, and the "thee" group was used for family and familiar persons, and even the disrespected. The KJV Bible lovers feel that the Psalms, in particular, use the "thee" words in reference to God as the language of respect. If anyone deserves deferential language, it would be God, but the Bible writers used the familiar words to designate the familial closeness of the psalm writer to God.

Unfortunately, today's readers have reversed the meaning. People say they like the KJV language because it sounds more dignified and respectful when referring to God!

The second area of misunderstanding of King James English is grammar, particularly the use of pronouns. We all know a pronoun stands in the place of a noun. In English, nouns do not vary depending on how they are used, but pronouns do. Pronouns vary depending on whether they refer to one person (singular), or more than one (plural). They also vary depending on how they are used, i.e., as a subject, an object, or a possessive.

"I" is used for an individual who is referring to him- or herself as the subject of a sentence. "Me" is used when the word is an object, whether a direct object in a sentence, an indirect object (to whom or for whom something is done), or the object of a preposition.

This rule is followed whether or not another person or pronoun is involved. "She and I" ("You and I"), etc., are used only as the subject of a sentence. In other places, "Her and me" ("You and me") are to be used. Say, "They gave it to her and me," not, "They gave it to she and I." "My wife and I want to thank you for showing love to her and me."

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