Spanish: Why is "vosotros" only used in Spain?

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by cawr22, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. cawr22 New Member

    United States
    English
    I understand that vosotros is used only in Spain, but I don't understand WHY. Was it ever used in the Americas, and then fell out of usage? Did the vosotros form develop in Spain after people began speaking Spanish in the Americas? Also, is the vosotros form understood in the Americas? Like if you use it in a sentence, will they know what you're talking about or not?
     
  2. Dlyons

    Dlyons Senior Member

    Dublin
    English - Ireland
    This will get you started

    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=47946
     
  3. blinkgirl Senior Member

    Rosario - Argentina
    Spanish - Argentina
    Yes, we know what they are talking about. The "vosotros" form exists, it´s official in Spanish but it is only used in Spain.Instead, in Latin America we use "ustedes" (or at least here in Argentina). The Spanish from Spain is diffrerent from the Spanish of the remaining countries where this language is spoken, but I really don't know why. I think that when Spanish people (from Spain I mean) conquered "the Americas", they brought their language but then it fell out of usage, as you´ve said.
    Hope this will help you understand.
     
  4. *[...mery...]* Junior Member

    Spanish
    Lo que ocurre es que cuando los españoles llegaron a america se usaba ustedes, ya que era algo formal pero muy usado, mientras que vosotros era un palabra muy informal
    Ahora en España se sigue usando ustedes pero ha quedado como algo excesivamente formal por lo que no se usa casi nunca mientras que vosotros es una palabra muy usual
    es lo que yo creo
    ¡espero que te sirva!!
     
  5. the last of the Mohicans Junior Member

    spanish
    Dear Dylon: The explanation from blinkgirl is quite right. El "ustedes" is still used in Seville and some nearby areas of Andalucia and also in the Canary Islands. Before the ships went to America they had to get several permissions and stay for some time in Seville, probably three or more months. So people from other areas of Spain got involved with the andalousian way of speaking. Sailors in the boats where mainly from Andalucia. At the beginning the majority of boats going to America sailed from Andalucia and that is one of the reasons why southamerican Spanish is much more similar to Andalusian Spanish than to the rest.

    In the west of Andalucia it is very common to use the "ustedes" form.
     
  6. Xinito Senior Member

    San Diego, CA
    English
    From my personal experience while I lived in Cádiz (Andalucía region), it seemed that my Spanish friends would use "vosotros" when they were talking to or about us who were actually present... and would use "ustedes" when speaking of us [Americans] in general. For example:

    Si vosotros vais de marcha a Sevilla, hacedme saber para que os pueda acompañar.
    (If you guys are going out to Sevilla, let me know so I can tag along.)

    No sé por qué a ustedes les da asco comer morcilla.
    (I don't know why you [Americans] are grossed out by blood sausage.)

    Remember, this is just from what I can gather with my personal friends...

    =)
     
  7. the last of the Mohicans Junior Member

    spanish
    "¿¿¿ustedes vosotros vais a venir al cine???"
    It is a typical way of speaking in Seville, some villages of Córdoba (Priego de Córdoba, etc.), some villages of Málaga (Ronda, Archidona, Antequera ...) etc. and it is also surprising for Spaniards in general.

    There is no intention in the sentence. You may be their close friends but they use those expressions. Maybe young people mix up "vosotros y ustedes" and that is why you have that feeling Xinito about "ustedes les da asco comer morcilla".
     
  8. Xinito Senior Member

    San Diego, CA
    English
    He dicho que mis colegas solían decir "ustedes" cuando hablaban de los estadounidenses en general, yo incluso. No creo que tenga que ver con "formal" e "informal", por lo que yo sepa... en aquellos casos, por lo menos.
     
  9. aldewi Senior Member

    Colombia - Spanish
    Somethnig curious is that when referring to Biblical passages, we use "vosotros", i.e. "Jesus dijo: uno de vosotros me traicionará".
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2009
  10. the last of the Mohicans Junior Member

    spanish
    No te enfades ... no he dicho nada de "formal o informal". No tiene explicación ... en unas áreas de Andalucía se usa indistintamente el "vosotros y el ustedes" sin más y a todos los que no lo usamos habitualmente, aún siendo andaluces, nos sorprende. Bueno, mejor dicho, si tiene explicación ... es un uso arcaico del español que en la andalucia occidental se ha mantenido hasta nuestros días.
    ¿Recuerdas a los Morancos? Un grupo de cómicos andaluces ... ellos lo usan constantemente porque son del barrio de Triana de Sevilla.

    Un saludo
     
  11. the last of the Mohicans Junior Member

    spanish
    "vosotros" is the normal second person plural and is mainly used in Spanish, any Spanish.

    If Jesus would have said "uno de ustedes me traicionará" it would have meant they were not friends, they would not know each other as they did. Remember, they were having dinner together and they were suppose to be quite good friends and worked in the same direction.

    Un saludo
     
  12. Juanma Andalucia

    Juanma Andalucia Senior Member

    SPANISH from Spain
    Os confirmo que aquí en Cádiz, y en Sevilla, no usamos vosotros: usamos ustedes, tanto formal como informal: la formalidad la da el verbo:
    INFORMAL: "ustedes sois"
    FORMAL: "ustedes son"
    En cambio, para el singular se usa casi siempre el TU, quedando el USTED para formalismos.
     
  13. Xinito Senior Member

    San Diego, CA
    English
    También me di cuenta de eso... Pero me gustaría saber si el uso de "vosotros" en la biblia se entiende en todos los países hispanoparlantes. Porque en los eeuu hemos traducido la biblia [muchas veces] al inglés estadounidense y moderno, que hay mucha gente que le cuesta mucho enteder el inglés antiguo.
     
  14. Xinito Senior Member

    San Diego, CA
    English
    Quillo, no estoy enfadado para nada. Sólo estaba diciendo que así me parecía. ¿Yo qué sé? Aunque nunca he escuchado ambas formas en la misma oración... Y no sé quién había escrito: "ustedes sois" pero tampoco lo he escuchado nunca.

    =)
     
  15. Juanma Andalucia

    Juanma Andalucia Senior Member

    SPANISH from Spain
    Pues si vienes por Cadiz, la escucharás, ya que la usa todo el mundo aquí.
    Sobre la biblia, pues la verdad es que no sé si será el uso de "vosotros" la causa de que no se entienda muy bien...
     
  16. cawr22 New Member

    United States
    English
    Gracias por la ayuda.
     
  17. PACOALADROQUE Senior Member

    El Puerto de Santa María (CÁDIZ-ESPAÑA)
    ESPAÑOL (CARTAGENA-ESPAÑA)
    Un retoque.
    Saludos
     
  18. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Pekino, Ĉinujo
    Chinese/Italian - bilingual
    Mi amiga mexicana siempre pensaba que "vosotros" era sinónimo de "vós" usado en Argentina y otros paises latino-americanos (no recuerdo quales), entonces pensaba que fuese singular y le usaba como "tu".
    Despues ella fue muy sorpresa cuando yo le dici que es plural y significa "ustedes".

    En America latina el único país donde usan "vosotros" es... Brasil :D
    Porque allí ellos aprenden el español de España.
     
  19. terredepomme Senior Member

    Human Language
    It's funny how Portuguese went the other way and "tu" dropped out in Brazil.
     
  20. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English
    Not all dialects, southern brazilian still uses "tu." Interestingly portuguese also dropped use of it's cognate to "vosotros," "vós."
     
  21. Fericire

    Fericire Senior Member

    South America
    Portuguese (Brazil)
    In my opinion, just like in Brazilian Portuguese (and in other Portuguese dialects), people used to say "vossa mercê" (idk its equivalent in Spanish, maybe "vuestra merced") to show respect, but it was already the role of "vós" (vosotros). So it (usted) kinda replaced vós/vosotros, and then "vossa mercê" started to evolute, until it became "você/vocês" (usted/ustedes).

    Edit: while writing this post, I searched for the etymology of "você" (what replaced "vós", vosotros), and I found some very nice information about it.
    Unfortunately, it is in Portuguese. Here is the link: http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Você
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2012
  22. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
  23. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Perdón por la pedantería, pero me pareció que estas correcciones te serían útiles...
     
  24. Istriano

    Istriano Senior Member

    -
    It is strange Peninsular Portuguese is taught in Brazil (and European Portuguese is taught in Venezuela).
    So, when we go to Argentina we are better understood when we use portuñol than European Spanish.
    On the other hand, Argentinians learn our Brazilian Portuguese, and not European Portuguese.

    Back to the topic, in standard European Spanish vosotros is used, but in Portugal vós (=vosotros) has fallen out of use,
    so they have a situation tu ~ vocês (similar to tú ~ ustedes in Canary Islands, Mexico, Venezuela, Cuba or Chile).
    In Costa Rica and Central Colombia the ''Brazilian system'' is used: usted ~ ustedes (você ~ vocês),
    both Vd and Vds are informal, just like você and vocês in Brazil.
    In Argentina and Uruguay, the system is vos ~ Vds.

    I find the vosotros forms difficult to use, so I stick to ustedes. ;)
    Furthermore, in no way, ustedes can be considered ugly, it's very polite.
    Now I use vos+ustedes, the most polite form of all, historically.

    People should use the forms which are used in their countries.
    In no way imported forms should be forced upon people.
    In El Salvador, Costa Rica, Colombia, tú is being forced as a formal pronoun which is very weird.

    If people are using Usted informally (in Costa Rica and Colombia) leave them be.
    It's not considered ugly. Why force on them, saying, they should use tú in educated formal speech.
    In formal speech Vd should be used, regardless of country, and not tú, so in El Salvador, Colombia, Costa Rica, media and advertising companies should use Vd, and not tú which is alien to people there.

    So you get a weird situation: Vd is informal, and tú formal. :)

    Going back to vosotros, in Argentina, vosotros forms are no longer taught in schools, and new Biblias use Vds. ;)
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
  25. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English
    When I had spanish classes at university in the US, my professors didn't teach vosotros either, thought it is in the text books.
     
  26. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    Unless things have changed recently textbooks in US are usually extremely general to adapt to any teacher and professors teach whatever version of Spanish they want to. Meaning if you changed classes, schools, instructors you changed grammar, accent and vocab.
     
  27. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English
    I had professors from Spain, Argentina & Mexico along with americans but they all taught what you might call "general Latin American Spanish,"which is logical due to proximity.
     
  28. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    i remember when i studied basic Spanish, Vosotros is the plural form for "You" categorized as Informal You. The formal form(plural) is Ustedes. This is the reason why "vosotros" is only used in Espania.The people in Spain know when to use the formal and informal You in their country.But in the case, spanish language is used outside Spain, it is correct to use always the formal form of You (ustedes) because addressing someone(with ustedes) who you are not familiar is a form of politeness/respeto.
     
  29. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Pekino, Ĉinujo
    Chinese/Italian - bilingual
    @Istriano:
    English, Spanish (some varieties) and Portuguese (most Brazilian varieties) all had a common shift from the informal to the formal.
    In all of them, what used to be informal now became "archaic" or "biblic" or "very formal".

    English: thou -> you
    Thou was informal and you was formal. Then thou has been replaced by you.
    Now, thou is considered archaic, Shakespearian or biblic.

    Brazilian Portuguese: tu -> você (most regions of Brazil and in media)
    Well, some regions use tu + 3rd person verb and that's considered regional/incorrect according to the grammar.
    But in the regions that use você as informal pronoun, the form tu+second person verb is considered archaic or biblical.
    I see Brazilians use it all the time when talking to God or Jesus.
    In São Paulo they always use você, but the football team Corinthians' song says tu és, because the song was composed many years ago.
    I think in Brazil tu+second person verb (e.g tu és) survives only in Belém, but I'm not sure. And it's still used in Portugal and lusitan Africa.

    European + Brazilian Portuguese: vós -> vocês
    In ancient times, vós was the informal plural 2nd person, and vocês the formal one, being the plural of você.
    I guess vós is now archaic in both Brazil and Portugal. Everybody used vocês instead. I've heard that in Portugal they still use vós in oblique form and the possessive adjective vosso, but I'm not sure...
    According to my Brazilian friends, in Brazil vós is still used in grammar when conjugating verbs, and they feel it as very very formal.
    But in this forum I've seen Angolan and Mozambican people still using it.

    American Spanish: vosotros -> ustedes
    The informal vosotros survives only in Spain, while in America it's obsolete, they also use ustedes for informal. So that's why many South Americans feel it as a very formal way to say ustedes, and use it in formal, commercial letters! :eek:

    American Spanish (non-tuteante varieties): 1. tú -> vós; 2. tú -> ustéd
    So in some country the informal word was replaced by the archaic formal word vós, while in some countries it was replaced by the modern formal word ustéd.
    And it makes sense that in these countries, some people consider archaic/very formal.

    I think in all the languages it's like this. Words that are not common, or are obsolete/archaic, or are used in ancient texts (such as the Bible) are felt as "formal", and used by somebody to sound more elegant or "posh".

    I think that when coming to so called "Latin American General Spanish" or even "International Neutral Spanish" (such as dubbed movies, computer program translations, users' manuals translations) the preferred system is the Mexican/Peruvian system: tu singular informal/ustéd singular formal/ustedes plural.
    This is also the form I use, cause I've learnt Spanish playing Gunbound Latino, where majority of players are Peruvian. :p
    But I think the Peninsular Spanish form, with vosotros, is just more logical, because maintains the plural 2nd person verb for the actual plural 2nd person.
    While in American Spanish, when you say "cantan" you don't know if it's "ustedes cantan" or "ellos cantan". Furthermore, they do mistakes such as "voi cantano" when learning Italian.
    I've seen my Spanish friend writing "Os quiero mucho" in a group photo with her friends. While in American Spanish "Las (o les?) quiero mucho", you don't understand if it's "I love you girls" (talking directly to them) or "I love them" (talking in 3rd person).
    Also, in Spain "vuestro" means clearly "plural your". In American Spanish the possessive adjective "su" could mean his/her/its, but also plural your, and also their.

    Ok, after said so many things, I come back to topic, about why vosotros is used only in Spain.
    The fact that the sailors were mostly Andalusian makes sense.
    But in this forum, in another thread, some people gave another answer that makes sense too.
    Most of the sailors were oh humble origin in Spain, usually of low social classes, so they would be addressed with by high social classes, while vós or ustéd were reserved for high classes only.
    So when they went to the New World, they wanted to feel superior, and started to address each other with vós or ustéd. Slowly, this tendence became general, and they starting addressing everybody with vós or ustéd.
    I suppose that in Peru and in Mexico the distinction tu informal/ustéd formal remained because the vice-king and the noble class settled there, being Mexico City and Lima the administrative "capitals" of the colonies.
    But I don't know how accurate is this statement, as the distinction tu/ustéd also exists in other countries, but I don't remember which ones.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2012
  30. Fericire

    Fericire Senior Member

    South America
    Portuguese (Brazil)
    I say "tu és", "tu vais" et cetera daily. "Tu" is used a lot in Brazil, but more and more people say "você" because of the media; the media refuses to accept "tu", so people think it is archaic.
    Also, "vós" isn't dead. Although not common, there are people (usually the eldery) that say "Onde ides?" (conjugation of "vós").
     
  31. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    It's a bit more complicated, because forms of adress have tended to become less formal with time. Pronouns that used to be formal or neutral became informal, or lost part of their formality.

    Vosotros comes from vos + otros. Vos was once the way to address a plural group of people, and also the way to address one person formally (like vous still today in French). But at some point in Spanish usted and ustedes came along, and overtook vos in formality. In parts of Latin America, usted still coexists with a less formal singular vos. In Spain, plural vos evolved to vosotros. There were parallel evolutions in neighboring languages like Catalan and French. Elsewhere, vos was simply dropped, and usted/ustedes became neutral.

    Notice that você is the cognate of usted, not vos/vosotros.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2012
  32. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    Reading, UK
    English - UK
    Greetings all

    To me as a Latinist - but sadly without specialist knowledge of the Iberian tongues - this is all fascinating, and introducing a whole new aspect of the discussion. A Moderator may wish to remove this to a new thread in a different forum, but I have this observation:

    vosotros is clearly a derivation from Latin vos alteros, "you other ones"; ustedes from the pronominal adjective iste, which often has the sense of "your".

    It would be fascinating to see, if anyone can recommend one online, a dialect map of modern Spanish (including of course Latin America), and indeed Portuguese? Aren't there in any case dialect forms of Spanish that merge into Portuguese in remoter areas, just as German merges into Dutch or Flemish in the extreme north-west?
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  33. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English
    On the frontier between Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay you find Portuñol http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuñol , and in Spain you have the Astur-Leonese languages which were/are part of a dialect continuum between standard Spanish and standard Portuguese. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astur-Leonese_languages and a bit on the random side there is also a mixed french portuguese language on the border between French Guiana and Brazil, Frantuguês/Frantugais (couldn't find much info on it thought). And voce(s) & Usted(es) are from old Spanish/Portugese vuestra merced/vossa mercê. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/usted#Spanish http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/você
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2012
  34. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Pekino, Ĉinujo
    Chinese/Italian - bilingual
    I'm sorry, what I wrote above was based on my limited contacts with Portuguese speakers, mostly young people.
    I didn't know that "vós" was still used. Thanks. :)
    Also, I've seen young people from your city (Porto Alegre) using "tu é", "tu vai", etc. I've seen in other threads that in the South of Brazil older (relatively :D) people tend to use the 2nd person verb, while young people tend to use 3rd person verb. Is it true?

    Thanks Outsider. :thumbsup:
    I made a typo in my post, I wanted to write "all had a common shift from the formal to the informal." I wanted to say that basically what used to be formal became informal, and what used to be informal became too formal/archaic/biblic/literal etc. etc.

    In Italian we also have voialtri, it maintened its original meaning of "you other guys".
     
  35. Destruida Senior Member

    España
    English (England)
    Vous autres and nous autres are commonly used in France, as a way of adding emphasis when you're contrasting or differentiating between the you and the we: you others, we others.
     

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