the vs. thee

yeshuaisiam

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Not a big deal at all... however, this is something that has always kind of was strange.

When we pray together to God, is it more proper to say:
"Let us pray to the Lord"
or
"Let us pray to thee Lord"

I've sort of always thought it sounded awkward to say "the Lord" in prayer.  To me it sounds like its making God an object in ways.

We have the church
We have the pews
We have the church body
We have the church building

But let's say it's direct -

"I pray to the Lord to forgive my sins"
"I pray to thee Lord to forgive my sins"

Priest: "Let us pray to thee Lord"
Choir" "Lord have mercy"

I dunno.  :p ::)

Example: A child's prayer -

"Now I lay me down to sleep I pray thee Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray thee Lord my soul to take.  If I should live another day, I pray thee Lord to guide my way."

Very small issue, but I have to admit it has sounded strange to me for some time now.  In most context, I'm seeing "thee" as proper.

Any care to discuss, or school me on some English :)
 

Azurestone

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"Thee" is the objective form of thou. The purpose of the phrase is not to say "Let us pray to you Lord", but "Let us pray to THE Lord".

What is a Lord, but a person who has authority or the master of an area. Therefore, "praying to THE Lord" is to proclaim God, and usually specifically Jesus, as the ultimate ruler of the world/cosmos. The contrary would be to assume that any man/ruler/king/president was above God.

In recap, we pray to "THE Lord" not "you lord".
 

dzheremi

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This is really not my area, but "thee" is in the oblique case, meaning that it is the object of a verb or preposition. "Thou" is nominative (for subjects of verbs: "Thou art..."; "art" being a form of the copular verb in earlier English), corresponding to modern second person subj./obj. "you", but early English still had formality distinctions that modern English no longer has. Originally, "thee" was actually the informal form (the formal used the plural 'ye' or 'you'...), but that's kind of switched around now since it has so fallen into disuse in everyday speech that it is only trotted out for special occasions/fancifying purposes. :)
 

JamesR

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Given your above examples, the "The" one seems to be as if the speaker is addressing the people present, whereas the one with "Thee" seems to indicate that the speaker is addressing God.
 

mike

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"The" and "thee" are different word with different semantical and grammatical functions... How can one compare them?
 

jmbejdl

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dzheremi said:
This is really not my area, but "thee" is in the oblique case, meaning that it is the object of a verb or preposition. "Thou" is nominative (for subjects of verbs: "Thou art..."; "art" being a form of the copular verb in earlier English), corresponding to modern second person subj./obj. "you", but early English still had formality distinctions that modern English no longer has. Originally, "thee" was actually the informal form (the formal used the plural 'ye' or 'you'...), but that's kind of switched around now since it has so fallen into disuse in everyday speech that it is only trotted out for special occasions/fancifying purposes. :)
Thee still is the informal form. It's not reversed at all. The reason for it being used in Church (for those that still use it) is that the Church is using archaic English, not because they believe thee to be formal. Quite the reverse, actually, thee and thou were always used to address God even when they were normal parts of English rather than archaic language. They're also used in places where these forms are still in use (and where I grew up I saw a parent hit their child for saying thee to an adult, so there still are places where this grammar is part of the living language). I'm not aware of any language which preserves informal and formal forms of you which addresses God in worship using the formal.

James
 

dzheremi

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There is no marked informal form in modern English, James, only archaisms, so I'm confused as to why you've written any of that in response to me. That was the whole point of my post. English used to have formality distinctions in its pronoun system (similar to the T-V distinction of many European languages: Spanish, Russian, etc.), but now that it no longer does, the less common pronoun(s) -- thee, thou, thy, etc. -- are considered archaic and hence, as I wrote "trotted out for special occasions" (i.e., used formally). I am well aware that there are still parts of the English-speaking world in which these forms are used, but I am writing about general American English, to the extent that such a thing exists. Please see (for instance) the works of Joan Bybee on usage-based phonology for more on this phenomenon. It makes no sense to claim that these archaic forms are somehow evidence of the preservation of formality distinctions when their frequency is so incredibly low.
 

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I wonder if the OP means the word "thee", or means the two ways to pronounce the word "the".

E.g. "the beginning" vs "the end" (the latter being pronounced like the word "thee").

"Let us pray to the Lord" would always be pronounced like "the beginning", not "the end".

"the" sounds like "thee" when the following word begins with a vowel (and sometimes an h).

the east. the end. the error. the honourable are all like "thee"
the Lord. The point. The thing. All not like "thee".


If the word "thee" is ment, of course it's ok to say "the Lord". "Jesus is the Lord" and "Jesus is You [Thee] Lord" mean quite different things and it would never be right to substitute one for the other based on what sounds good to the listener.
 

Alpo

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You silly English-speaking people and your problems. The proper form is "Rukoilkaamme Herraa". :angel:
 

ialmisry

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dzheremi said:
There is no marked informal form in modern English, James, only archaisms, so I'm confused as to why you've written any of that in response to me. That was the whole point of my post. English used to have formality distinctions in its pronoun system (similar to the T-V distinction of many European languages: Spanish, Russian, etc.), but now that it no longer does, the less common pronoun(s) -- thee, thou, thy, etc. -- are considered archaic and hence, as I wrote "trotted out for special occasions" (i.e., used formally). I am well aware that there are still parts of the English-speaking world in which these forms are used, but I am writing about general American English, to the extent that such a thing exists. Please see (for instance) the works of Joan Bybee on usage-based phonology for more on this phenomenon. It makes no sense to claim that these archaic forms are somehow evidence of the preservation of formality distinctions when their frequency is so incredibly low.
One thing we may be dealing with here (the OP) is false archaism, like sticking the ending -th on verbs of the first and second persons because it sounds old.
 

jmbejdl

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dzheremi said:
There is no marked informal form in modern English, James, only archaisms, so I'm confused as to why you've written any of that in response to me. That was the whole point of my post. English used to have formality distinctions in its pronoun system (similar to the T-V distinction of many European languages: Spanish, Russian, etc.), but now that it no longer does, the less common pronoun(s) -- thee, thou, thy, etc. -- are considered archaic and hence, as I wrote "trotted out for special occasions" (i.e., used formally). I am well aware that there are still parts of the English-speaking world in which these forms are used, but I am writing about general American English, to the extent that such a thing exists. Please see (for instance) the works of Joan Bybee on usage-based phonology for more on this phenomenon. It makes no sense to claim that these archaic forms are somehow evidence of the preservation of formality distinctions when their frequency is so incredibly low.
I was responding to this part of your previous post:

Originally, "thee" was actually the informal form (the formal used the plural 'ye' or 'you'...), but that's kind of switched around now
Maybe I should have highlighted it for clarity? I interpreted what you were saying (and I absolutely understand that you may not have meant it this way) as 'we now use thee, in certain circumstances, as a formal form of you'. I've known plenty of people that have adhered to such a misunderstanding (perhaps not you), but it simply isn't the case. No language that I'm aware of addresses God in worship with the formal form of you. English no longer (other than in a few dialects) preserves the formal/familiar distinction but the archaic English that we sometimes use for worship does and when we use it we specifically address God in the familiar form. I suppose another way of interpreting what you wrote would be that you were saying that we use this archaic form of English in order to increase the formality of the situation, but I don't believe that's true either. I'd say that the motive for preserving archaic linguistic forms in worship (and you see it all over the place from KJV English, to archaic Romanian, even to Koine, Slavonic and Latin in the extremes) has far more to do with continuity and tradition than any idea that worship requires formality.

James
 

ialmisry

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jmbejdl said:
dzheremi said:
There is no marked informal form in modern English, James, only archaisms, so I'm confused as to why you've written any of that in response to me. That was the whole point of my post. English used to have formality distinctions in its pronoun system (similar to the T-V distinction of many European languages: Spanish, Russian, etc.), but now that it no longer does, the less common pronoun(s) -- thee, thou, thy, etc. -- are considered archaic and hence, as I wrote "trotted out for special occasions" (i.e., used formally). I am well aware that there are still parts of the English-speaking world in which these forms are used, but I am writing about general American English, to the extent that such a thing exists. Please see (for instance) the works of Joan Bybee on usage-based phonology for more on this phenomenon. It makes no sense to claim that these archaic forms are somehow evidence of the preservation of formality distinctions when their frequency is so incredibly low.
I was responding to this part of your previous post:

Originally, "thee" was actually the informal form (the formal used the plural 'ye' or 'you'...), but that's kind of switched around now
Maybe I should have highlighted it for clarity? I interpreted what you were saying (and I absolutely understand that you may not have meant it this way) as 'we now use thee, in certain circumstances, as a formal form of you'. I've known plenty of people that have adhered to such a misunderstanding (perhaps not you), but it simply isn't the case. No language that I'm aware of addresses God in worship with the formal form of you. English no longer (other than in a few dialects) preserves the formal/familiar distinction but the archaic English that we sometimes use for worship does and when we use it we specifically address God in the familiar form. I suppose another way of interpreting what you wrote would be that you were saying that we use this archaic form of English in order to increase the formality of the situation, but I don't believe that's true either. I'd say that the motive for preserving archaic linguistic forms in worship (and you see it all over the place from KJV English, to archaic Romanian, even to Koine, Slavonic and Latin in the extremes) has far more to do with continuity and tradition than any idea that worship requires formality.

James
I think dzheremi was pointing out (correctly) that while the context of archaic usage was formal, the mode of address is not, archaic or otherwise.
 

Iconodule

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Michał Kalina said:
"The" and "thee" are different word with different semantical and grammatical functions... How can one compare them?
It's a sad, sad day when it takes a Podlachian Belorussian to explain this to native Anglophones.
 

Shanghaiski

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Alpo said:
You silly English-speaking people and your problems. The proper form is "Rukoilkaamme Herraa". :angel:
The Finns took all the vowels and didn't leave any for the Georgians.  :angel:
 

orthonorm

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Michał Kalina said:
"The" and "thee" are different word with different semantical and grammatical functions... How can one compare them?
How shall I compare thee?
 

dzheremi

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ialmisry said:
jmbejdl said:
dzheremi said:
There is no marked informal form in modern English, James, only archaisms, so I'm confused as to why you've written any of that in response to me. That was the whole point of my post. English used to have formality distinctions in its pronoun system (similar to the T-V distinction of many European languages: Spanish, Russian, etc.), but now that it no longer does, the less common pronoun(s) -- thee, thou, thy, etc. -- are considered archaic and hence, as I wrote "trotted out for special occasions" (i.e., used formally). I am well aware that there are still parts of the English-speaking world in which these forms are used, but I am writing about general American English, to the extent that such a thing exists. Please see (for instance) the works of Joan Bybee on usage-based phonology for more on this phenomenon. It makes no sense to claim that these archaic forms are somehow evidence of the preservation of formality distinctions when their frequency is so incredibly low.
I was responding to this part of your previous post:

Originally, "thee" was actually the informal form (the formal used the plural 'ye' or 'you'...), but that's kind of switched around now
Maybe I should have highlighted it for clarity? I interpreted what you were saying (and I absolutely understand that you may not have meant it this way) as 'we now use thee, in certain circumstances, as a formal form of you'. I've known plenty of people that have adhered to such a misunderstanding (perhaps not you), but it simply isn't the case. No language that I'm aware of addresses God in worship with the formal form of you. English no longer (other than in a few dialects) preserves the formal/familiar distinction but the archaic English that we sometimes use for worship does and when we use it we specifically address God in the familiar form. I suppose another way of interpreting what you wrote would be that you were saying that we use this archaic form of English in order to increase the formality of the situation, but I don't believe that's true either. I'd say that the motive for preserving archaic linguistic forms in worship (and you see it all over the place from KJV English, to archaic Romanian, even to Koine, Slavonic and Latin in the extremes) has far more to do with continuity and tradition than any idea that worship requires formality.

James
I think dzheremi was pointing out (correctly) that while the context of archaic usage was formal, the mode of address is not, archaic or otherwise.
Yes, that's a much more succinct way to put it. Thank you, Isa.
 

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Shanghaiski said:
Alpo said:
You silly English-speaking people and your problems. The proper form is "Rukoilkaamme Herraa". :angel:
The Finns took all the vowels and didn't leave any for the Georgians Serbs.  :angel:
Fixed it for ya.  :laugh:
 

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LBK said:
Shanghaiski said:
Alpo said:
You silly English-speaking people and your problems. The proper form is "Rukoilkaamme Herraa". :angel:
The Finns took all the vowels and didn't leave any for the Georgians Serbs.  :angel:
Fixed it for ya.  :laugh:
I dunno, I think Georgian blows Serbian out of the water in terms of long consonant clusters.
 
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