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Thread: Tu-Vous/tu-usted... distinction in your language

  1. #21
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    Re: Tu-Vous distinction in your language

    Quote Originally Posted by MarX View Post

    waiter at a restaurant: depends
    a shopkeeper: depends
    strangers of your own age: depends

    Our system of addressing others is much more complicated than European languages in general.
    The words that directly translates to English you are basically used only for people of the same age you know, and for those who are younger than you.
    I've noticed that in Indonesian there is a certain tendency to express things indirectly to avoid using pronouns at all, and often they are just dropped, even though we don't conjugate the verbs according to person and number.
    I reckon the same thing happens in many Asian languages.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nizo View Post
    As a native English speaker, I'm somewhat comforted to find this is as unclear to native speakers of their languages as always has been to me! I never want to be rude either by being too familiar or too formal.

    I think this is a fascinating topic when it comes to how individuals perceive things. An acquaintance of mine from France who was just learning English found it very strange that we only have you and therefore address dogs with the same respect we use when addressing an elderly person, for example.

    When I lived in Spain, I learned to use the familiar very quickly with people (much more quickly, I have found, than with Latin American speakers of Spanish). However, after four years working in France, there were some professional contacts that continued to use the formal. In France I kept a directory of my contacts and put a special symbol by those I should address with tu, just so I wouldn't forget!
    English (and Hebrew and Arabic and the Scandinavian languages) is indeed quite uncomplicated in this matter.

    If only your French acquaintance knew that many Spanish speakers address their dogs with usted, and that many languages have much more complicated ways to address others than just tu vs. vous.

  2. #22
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    Re: Tu-Vous/tu-usted... dinstinction in your language

    Hungarian (to put it simply) works very much like Portugese and Italian after your description even if it is not a Latin language.
    However, all in all, there is a natural tendency to change for the informal use in the long run of interpersonal relationships, in spite of differences in age or position and providing the idea of "we have to pull together" is there. (Which means that university professors, bosses, etc. will suggest it to their students and employees sooner or later providing all the "favourable circumstances" are there...)

    We have a lot of problems with addressing other people though (a bit like in the Finnish examples) probably because of a comparatively short tradition of the use of the formal form (18th C) to start with and also because the frequent changes of political systems that never allowed a tendecy to establish itself properly.

    The latest political changes (in '89 - 90) were no exception.

    With the appearance of foreign companies, (unnatural) formal ways seemed to spread producing all sorts of linguistically weird phenomena: e.g. the fashion of using capitals at the beginning of words referring to the other person "You", "Your letter", etc. (Looking as strange in English as in Hungarian.) The non-stop using of the word (you) in itself would have been totally strange but the capitals plus the "forced" formal addressing everyone just made things worse.
    But soon came the opposite tendency, too (still from abroad; did you notice e.g. the number of adverts where the informal addressing is used?) whereby everybody is a "chum". Of course, (especially) young people felt encouraged to use it from morning till night in every situation. (E.g. a fast food assistant of 18 to a customer daddy of 45 who went there only to treat his young son.)
    It is strange to have one extreme and its opposite at the same time.

    To MarX's comment about the French ways: it is true that "respect" is largely connected to a way of addressing someone formally. (Meanwhile sometimes one has the impression that simple politeness is unheard of.)

  3. #23
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    anns a' Ghàidhlig / in Gaelic

    We have that distinction. I won't go into the exhaustive table, but suffice it to say that "thu" (pronounced "oo") is similar in usage to "tu" in French, whereas "sibh" (pronounced "shiv") is similar in usage to "vous".

  4. #24
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    Re: Tu-Vous/tu-usted... distinction in your language

    In Tagalog there is formal form for "you" 1. ) You are right! 1.)(Ikaw ay tumpak/tama')(usual form"Ikaw=you) 2.) You are my good teacher( both in singular and plural, you= become (Kayo) instead "ikaw".In Tagalog translation= Kayo ang butihing guro ko. 3.) When asking someone, (Who are you?) the ordinary form is= sino ka? but in formal form =Sino po sila? or Sino po kayo?(even asking one person)
    deKamatodeNah TeKatenggesan Ketam

  5. #25
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    Re: Tu-Vous/tu-usted... distinction in your language

    Quote Originally Posted by federicoft View Post
    What person are you expected to use when talking with:

    your parents:
    your grandparents:
    a friend of yours:
    a friend of your parents:
    other relatives:
    colleagues/classmates:
    spouse:
    parents of your spouse:
    teachers at school:
    professors at university:
    boss at work:
    waiter at a restaurant:
    a shopkeeper:
    strangers of your own age:
    strangers older than you:
    I would use du in all these exemples when adressing one person and ni if adressing two or more persons. The only persons I might (but don't have to) adress as ni is the king or queen of Sweden.

    Swedish has both du (second person singular) and ni (second person plural), ni have been used as a polite form of adress for second person singular, but there was a Du-reform. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You-reform in the late 1960s and I've grown up with du and I don't like to be adressed as ni, something that unfortunately has become more common among younger people.

  6. #26
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    Re: Tu-Vous/tu-usted... distinction in your language

    As already said, in Portuguese there is:
    "tu" (informal, but used as formal in most part of Brazil)
    "você" (intermediate)
    "o(s) senhor(es), a(s) senhora(s)" (formal: masculine ~ feminine, respectively)

    But these days, in south Brazil people would just use "tu" for everything and "o(s) senhor(es) / a(s) senhora(s)" for a few cases. "Você" is not used around here; As people usually avoid to conjugate the verbs correctly, omitting the pronoun is the "intermediate" in the place of "você"

    Your parents - tu
    Your grandparents - tu
    A friend of yours - tu
    A friend of your parents - it depends of the intimacy; if you're on doubt, just use "o senhor", "a senhora"
    Other relatives - same as above
    Colleagues - tu
    Classmates - tu
    Spouse - tu
    Parents of your spouse - again, it depends. if you're on doubt, use "o senhor", "a senhora"
    Teachers at school - if the teacher's liberal, use "tu". else, omit the pronoun. if you use any formal treatment pronoun it will sound as if you're making fun of the teacher
    Professors at University - omit the pronoun
    Boss at work - it depends on the intimacy: tu, omit the pronoun or say "o senhor/a senhora" — informal, intermediate and formal, respectively
    Waiter at a restaurant - there are people which say "tu", but omitting the pronoun is the most common. seniors will probably say "o senhor/a senhora"
    A shop keeper - in this one you can use "tu"
    Strangers of your own age - it depends. anyway, the best way is to omit the pronoun and make it intermediate between informal and formal
    Strangers older than you - o senhor/a senhora

    In short: that list above is just the standard. You can use "tu" if you wanna say something like "hey mate/friend", or you can use "senhor(a/es/as)" if you wanna say like "For you, my respect". Omitting the pronoun is like you're just avoiding to put any formal or informal treatment.
    Last edited by Fericire; 15th July 2011 at 8:24 PM. Reason: in short...

  7. #27
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    Re: Tu-Vous/tu-usted... distinction in your language

    In Classical Greek, the informal "you" was «σὺ» (sŭ; Doric, tŭ) from PIE base *tu, thou.
    The formal or plural "you" was «ὑμεῖς» (hū'meis; Aeolic «ὕμμε», hūmmĕ) from PIE base *(y)us-(s)me, you.
    In the modern language, the informal "you" is «συ» (si) or for euphonic reasons, «εσύ» (e'si).
    The formal or plural "you" is simly the plural form of «συ», «σεις» (sis) or for euphonic reasons, «εσείς» (e'sis).
    Quote Originally Posted by federicoft
    What person are you expected to use when talking with:

    your parents: «εσύ»
    your grandparents: «εσύ»
    a friend of yours: «εσύ»
    a friend of your parents: «εσείς» mostly
    other relatives: «εσύ»
    colleagues/classmates: «εσύ»
    spouse: «εσύ»
    parents of your spouse: «εσύ»
    teachers at school: «εσείς»
    professors at university: «εσείς»
    boss at work: «εσείς»
    waiter at a restaurant: It depends. In taverns when the waiter is near our age we often refer to him with an informal manner. In formal dinners or restaurants «εσείς»
    a shopkeeper: Usually «εσείς»
    strangers of your own age: It depends.
    strangers older than you: «εσείς»

  8. #28
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    Re: Tu-Vous/tu-usted... distinction in your language

    Now for Russian: ты (French tu) vs. вы/Вы (French vous, capitalized in formal contexts)

    your parents:
    ты
    your grandparents:
    ты
    a friend of yours:
    ты
    a friend of your parents:
    вы
    other relatives:
    varies from family to family, usually вы for relatives considerably older than you and ты in the other cases
    colleagues/classmates:
    ты (again, вы for older colleagues)
    spouse:
    ты
    parents of your spouse:
    вы
    teachers at school:
    вы
    professors at university:
    вы
    boss at work:
    usually вы, like Italian
    waiter at a restaurant:
    вы
    a shopkeeper:
    вы
    strangers of your own age:
    ты until about 25 years old, mostly for people of the same gender (a girl about 20 years old that I don't know wouldn't like it if I addressed her ты), вы in the other cases
    strangers older than you:
    вы
    Last edited by Saluton; 21st July 2011 at 8:43 AM.
    Please correct my mistakes wherever possible.

  9. #29
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    Re: Tu-Vous/tu-usted... distinction in your language

    In Polish (basing on Spanish Spanish):
    tú - ty (singular)
    vosotros - wy (plural)
    usted - pan (masculine), pani (femine)
    ustedes - państwo (plural both masculine and femine), panowie (only masculine), panie (only femine)

    your parents: ty
    your grandparents: ty
    a friend of yours: ty
    a friend of your parents: I usually use ty, but it may be not that common
    other relatives: ty
    colleagues/classmates: ty, if there are males only you can hear "panowie" pretty often (Panowie, musimy wygrać ten mecz! - Gentlemen, we have to win this match!).
    spouse: ty
    parents of your spouse: ty
    teachers at school: pan, pani, państwo (may be ty sometimes but only if the teacher wants it), panowie/panie may sound a bit odd, but is not totally unacceptable
    professors at university: pan, pani, państwo, panowie, panie
    boss at work: pan/pani, and as above - may be ty but only if he/she wants it
    waiter at a restaurant: pan, pani
    a shopkeeper: pan, pani
    strangers of your own age: the same as in Russian (above post) [ty until about 25 years old, mostly for people of the same gender (a girl about 20 years old that I don't know wouldn't like it if I addressed her ty), pan/pani/państwo/panowie/panie in other cases]
    strangers older than you: pan/pani/państwo/panowie/panie, if we're both young (let's say <25 years old) I would always adress them ty/wy.
    Last edited by DearPrudence; 1st September 2011 at 9:03 AM. Reason: Typo corrected at poster's request.

  10. #30
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    Re: T-V dinstinction in your language

    Czech & Slovak
    (the problem of tu-vous variation is not as easy as it looks in this thread and I think it's really complicated for a foreigner to master all the subtle details of usage)
    tu > ty (Czech, Slovak)
    vous > Vy (Czech, Slovak)

    your parents: ty
    your grandparents: ty
    a friend of yours: ty
    a friend of your parents: Vy
    other relatives: ty
    colleagues/classmates: vy (work), ty (school), ty (after 6 moths at work)
    spouse: ty
    parents of your spouse: ty, vy
    teachers at school: vy
    professors at university: vy
    boss at work: vy
    waiter at a restaurant: always vy
    a shopkeeper: vy
    strangers of your own age: always vy (I mean age over 20)
    strangers older than you: vyThere's a third, even more formal pronoun (Voi), but it's very rarely used nowadays, unless you are talking with the President of the Republic or something like that.

    Finally, there's a formal plural pronoun, Loro, used when addressing a group of people, but it is falling into disuse too since the informal pronoun is already perceived as respectful enough and can fit well in most situations.[/QUOTE]
    [ɒkinɛk humorɒ vɒn, mindɛnˤtud, ɒkinɛk niŋʧ, mindɛnrɛ ke.pɛʃ]

  11. #31
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    Re: Tu-Vous/tu-usted... distinction in your language

    I'd like to correct something about hebrew; while we do not have special person for these, we have an original* word for each of them.

    *original meaning here that no connection exists between words ( as opposed to english: parent, grandparent).

    EDIT: we do however call judges mr judge/ your honor and likes. same goes for kings, prime minister etc.
    Last edited by arielipi; 6th March 2013 at 11:05 PM.
    All the seats are taken in the parliament of fools!

  12. #32
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    Re: Tu-Vous/tu-usted... distinction in your language

    We don't have a you formal in Irish. Everyone is tú.

    In Welsh, we have ti (informal) and chi (formal). Here's how it works in Welsh:

    Your parents - ti
    Your grandparents - ti
    A friend of yours - ti
    A friend of your parents - chi (formal)
    Other relatives - ti
    Colleagues - "ti" if they are the same age as you, "chi" if they are older (unless they specifically tell you to stop calling them "chi", in which case you should then call them "ti")
    Classmates - ti
    Spouse - ti
    Parents of your spouse - it depends on how formal they want to be. Personally, I would consider it a bit cold and unfriendly if I called my spouse's parents "chi" and they did not tell me to call them "ti" instead. It would seem as though they wanted me to keep a distance. Regardless of this, I would never change to "ti" unless they said I could.
    Teachers at school - chi
    Professors at University - chi
    Boss at work - chi (unless they tell you to use "ti")
    Waiter at a restaurant - "ti" if they are younger or the same age, "chi" if they are older (I would also expect them to call me "ti" in return, if we were around the same age. If they were older than me and I was calling them "chi", I would expect them to also call me "chi" since I am a customer and an adult, regardless of the fact that I am younger than them. Teenaged customers would not expect to be called "chi".)
    A shop keeper - same as a waiter
    Strangers of your own age - ti
    Strangers older than you - chi

    It is not always clear-cut though. Sometimes you can't tell if someone is older than you or not, and you don't want to offend them by either 1) assuming they are old or 2) being disrepectful if they actually are older. That can be a minefield

    As a general rule, I call everyone up to about 10 years older than me "ti" so as not to make them feel old I find it weird to have people who are 20 calling me "chi" - it makes me feel ancient!

    I recently discovered that in Spain, once someone calls you "tu" you should not continue calling them "usted", even if they are older than you and you want to show respect. I found this strange in the beginning, given that this is not the case in Welsh. In France, I was a bit confused about calling my friend's parents tu or vous. I called both of them vous, but then her mother asked me to call her tu, but her father didn't. So, I ended up having to remember to call the father vous while calling the mother tu. It was quite a job getting it right! Could any French people tell me whether I should have just started calling her father "tu" anyway?

  13. #33
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    Re: Tu-Vous/tu-usted... distinction in your language

    Quote Originally Posted by Tegs View Post
    ...
    Colleagues - "ti" if they are the same age as you, "chi" if they are older (unless they specifically tell you to stop calling them "chi", in which case you should then call them "ti")
    Boss at work - chi (unless they tell you to use "ti")
    Waiter at a restaurant - "ti" if they are younger or the same age, "chi" if they are older (I would also expect them to call me "ti" in return, if we were around the same age. If they were older than me and I was calling them "chi", I would expect them to also call me "chi" since I am a customer and an adult, regardless of the fact that I am younger than them. Teenaged customers would not expect to be called "chi".)
    A shop keeper - same as a waiter...
    Hello Tegs, how commonly is Welsh used in those situation? Thanks.
    [ɒkinɛk humorɒ vɒn, mindɛnˤtud, ɒkinɛk niŋʧ, mindɛnrɛ ke.pɛʃ]

  14. #34
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    Re: Tu-Vous/tu-usted... distinction in your language

    Hi Encolpius! It depends on where you are in Wales. Some areas are very Welsh-speaking, especially the north, so you would very often talk with waiters, shopkeepers and colleagues in Welsh. Where I live, many waiters, shopkeepers and work colleagues speak Welsh, so this sort of situation arises on a daily basis.

    In a big city such as Cardiff, you might not encounter so many Welsh-speaking waiters and shopkeepers, since there are a lot of foreigners as well as non-Welsh-speaking Welsh people. In a big city though, there is a good chance you would speak Welsh with your colleagues if you worked in the public sector or in education. Many jobs in the public sector require you to be bilingual and many schools teach bilingually or in Welsh only.

  15. #35
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    Re: Tu-Vous/tu-usted... distinction in your language

    In German (Germany) it looks like this:

    We have 'du' (thou) and 'Sie' (lit. they) as pronouns. 'Sie' always uses the third person plural, no matter what.

    your parents: du
    your grandparents: du
    a friend of yours: du
    a friend of your parents: du
    other relatives: du
    colleagues/classmates: Sie (colleagues) / du (classmates)
    spouse: du
    parents of your spouse: Sie (later also du)
    teachers at school: Sie (although primary school teachers sometimes make an exception and allow 'du')
    professors at university: Sie
    boss at work: Sie
    waiter at a restaurant: Sie
    a shopkeeper: Sie
    strangers of your own age: du
    strangers older than you: Sie

    There are still some other possibilities, though.
    1) When talking to a shopkeeper, it's not uncommon to ask with the second person plural 'Ihr' as in "Habt ihr noch X?". But in this case, you're not talking to the shopkeeper alone but rather include the whole staff, the shop.
    2) 'Ihr' was also once a formal way of addressing people. It has entirely fallen out of use in Germany. If anything, it's used for mockery. You can still hear it, though, in movies set in the Middle Ages. But I do have heard it once from a fella from Switzerland who bought something from us on eBay. I was honestly stunned and perplexed when he suddenly started using 'Ihr' with only my stepfather around. It seems that the pronoun might still be used in some small regions of Switzerland. At least it must be, as he surely didn't use it just for s***s and giggles.
    3) Lastly there are two other pronouns which were once used but no longer. 'Er' and 'sie' (third person singular pronouns 'he' and 'she' respectively). One could use it the same way as 'Sie'. "Möchte er/sie etwas trinken?" (Does he/she want anything to drink?), but I know naught about it so I can't say how it was used back then.

  16. #36
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    Re: Tu-Vous/tu-usted... distinction in your language

    Interesting Are there cases where someone you call Sie would tell you to call them du? Or once a Sie, always a Sie?

  17. #37
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    Re: Tu-Vous/tu-usted... distinction in your language

    Quote Originally Posted by Tegs View Post
    Interesting Are there cases where someone you call Sie would tell you to call them du? Or once a Sie, always a Sie?
    Well it depends on the age of the speaker, if you ask me. Everyday on the bus I see older women talking to each other using 'Sie'. Women, who clearly know each other fairly well. For them, the use of 'du' seems to be restricted to family only. I myself often say "Sag ruhig Du" if somebody starts talking to me by 'Sie'. I don't really like it but still adhere to the rules of its usage, as it would be rude not to do so.
    But you were probably referring to "colleagues", where I wrote only 'Sie'. Well, yes, of course you can be asked to switch. Sometimes, people even tend to use 'Du' from the very beginning, but it might depend on where you work. On my part-time job in a factory, my boss immediately said "Du ist Ok.", but it was pretty weird for me to address my superior that way. I doubt this would happen in an office job, but sure, why not? For some people (or maybe most?), the decision between 'du' and 'Sie' is also a question of age of the speaker and the one being spoken to. So it's all in all pretty complex, but I suppose it's that way in most languages with this distinction.

    Well, long story short: No, once a Sie, not always a Sie

    Btw: I'd really like someone who knows Japanese to write how it works there. Japanese has many pronouns for 'you' (and also some other ways to address people) but some are vulgar and rude, some are just informal, aso. It's pretty complex and an overview with this list might be interesting. My Japanese, unfortunately, is pretty rusty.
    Last edited by Roy776; 7th March 2013 at 1:07 PM.

  18. #38
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    Re: Tu-Vous/tu-usted... distinction in your language

    Quote Originally Posted by Tegs View Post
    In France, I was a bit confused about calling my friend's parents tu or vous. I called both of them vous, but then her mother asked me to call her tu, but her father didn't. So, I ended up having to remember to call the father vous while calling the mother tu. It was quite a job getting it right! Could any French people tell me whether I should have just started calling her father "tu" anyway?
    I think you did right , but then, I am an extra cautious person in this case. Don't worry, any native speaker of French would feel as uncomfortable as you did.
    Com as palavras todo cuidado é pouco, mudam de opinião como as pessoas. (José Saramago)

  19. #39
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    Re: Tu-Vous/tu-usted... distinction in your language

    Thanks for the reply Roy, and also Nanon - I'm relieved to hear this would be awkward for French people too

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