1

I'm reading Kim and there are many lines like "Canst thou?".

Seems this is a conjugation of verbs on the 2nd person pronoun.

Nowadays seems English only has conjugation on the 3rd person pronoun. Was there conjugation on other person pronouns? and when did such conjugation go away?

4

Kipling uses 'thee and thou' to indicate that the conversation would have been in an Indian language which has a second person singular.

Like many other languages, English used to have a second person singular which was used in speaking to intimates and to people considered to be of lower status (and, strangely, to God). Gradually, we began to use the form 'you' for everyone. However, the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer, which both use 'thee and thou', remained in use from the 17th to the mid-20th century, when they began to be replaced by modern language versions.

  • Is there some systematic review on the use and change of thee and thou in English? – athos Nov 25 '18 at 9:19
  • +1 And one more for the excellent point: "indicate that the conversation would have been in an Indian language which has a second person singular." Some references/ citations for the chronology would have been in order, though. – Kris Nov 25 '18 at 10:25

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