Would native English speakers feel offended if I address them by "thou" instead of "you"?

  • 3
    Offended? Probably not. Most likely they'd be confused and find it ridiculous. It's such an old-fashioned word in the standard dialects that people only encounter it in very old works like Shakespeare and archaic translations of the Bible. If you're thinking of doing this, what for?
    – herisson
    May 30 '15 at 9:00
  • 3
    There are regions of England where thou, thee and thy are still used - mainly Yorkshire. Within those areas it is something they use more for close family members or friends, or certainly for social equals, than when addressing posh-spoken incomers. The last might think the speaker was being a bit rude, if they got called thee. I'll serve thee if tha' hast money to pay might suggest you looked destitute.
    – WS2
    May 30 '15 at 9:02
  • Isn't it the case that in Yorkshire one needs an invitation to call someone "thou", which is otherwise top-down language, otherwise the response could be "Who does tha think tha is thee-ing?", or am I confusing this with old-school German culture?
    – David Pugh
    May 30 '15 at 9:24
  • 1
    I'm not a German speaker, but from my experience of French and France, the social rules governing use of the singular second person in parts of England, are broadly similar to use of the tu and toi form in French. It can sound patronising if you get it wrong and use it with your boss, for example. I note from the OP's name that they may be from one of the Slavic speaking parts of Europe, and they are perhaps trying to relate it to the rules governing singular second-person in their own language.
    – WS2
    May 30 '15 at 9:33
  • @WS2: Well, the French have the verb tutoyer to describe the status, Norwegian has drikke dus (drink to becoming thous) to inaugurate it and I pretty sure that German has a similar ceremony, but English is conspicuous for the absence of any such descriptor, even while doing it.
    – David Pugh
    May 30 '15 at 9:54

I can't see any reason why they would be. They would more likely be confused and find it rather odd considering how archaic "thou" is.

  • I agree. The question falsely assumes that it is normal to use thou/thee, etc. It is not. Thou/thee, etc. are mainly restricted to dialect and Christianity.
    – Greybeard
    Mar 3 '20 at 15:11

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