6.0191 Rs: Pronouns, Esperanto, 'guys' (3/91)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 12 Aug 1992 16:54:04 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0191. Wednesday, 12 Aug 1992.

(1) Date: Thu, 06 Aug 92 12:03:56 IST (32 lines)
From: "David M. Schaps" <F21004@BARILVM>
Subject: Re: 6.0179 Rs: TextCrit Challenge; Foucault; Guys

(2) Date: Fri, 7 Aug 92 11:32:03 CST (39 lines)
From: (Dennis Baron) <baron@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
Subject: you guys

(3) Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1992 15:04 GMT +0100 (20 lines)
From: J%org Knappen <KNAPPEN@VKPMZD.KPH.Uni-Mainz.de>
Subject: Re: 6.0179 Rs: TextCrit Challenge; Foucault; Guys

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Thu, 06 Aug 92 12:03:56 IST
From: "David M. Schaps" <F21004@BARILVM>
Subject: Re: 6.0179 Rs: TextCrit Challenge; Foucault; Guys (3/64)

On George Lang's search for an "egalitarian" Indo-European language: I
cannot help, but I can tell him that the use of pronouns to distinguish
status is not a peculiarly I-E phenomenon. Hebrew uses the third person
singular when speaking to a superior ("My master asked his servant" for
"you asked me"), and the phenomenon still has reflexes in modern Hebrew
(where addresses are routinely written with a prefix on them that means
"to the honor of" -- producing such bizarreries as "to the honor of
Smash-Bang Auto Wrecks"). Japanese (as I learn not from personal
acquaintance but from John Toland's _The Rising Sun_) has a special
first-person pronoun that is used only by the Emperor. And of course,
there is the royal plural ("We, Dmitri Ivanovitch," as the false
Dmitri introduces himself in _Boris Godunov_) and the editorial plural
(the editor and his tapeworm, according to Mark Twain). This last is
the only one that I think is truly intended to deceive: the editor
wishes to project his opinions as being shared by many others (local
newspapers regularly have headlines purporting to give the reaction
of "the community" to this or that development; no poll-taking is
ever considered necessary). This last phenomenon is common in
political speechmaking of all stripes ("We are here today to
proclaim ...").
The distinctions of pronouns are not necessarily status
distinctions; l'homme et sa femme address each other as tu, and
address "outsiders" of the same status as vous. But even if we
are to accept the "status" definition, I should think that the
first question is whether there has ever been a status-free society
of any significant size that did not develop status distinctions
with the passage of time? And if every society recognizes status
distinctions, why should its language not recognize them?
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------51----
Date: Fri, 7 Aug 92 11:32:03 CST
From: (Dennis Baron) <baron@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
Subject: you guys

Jim Marchand's recent comment sent me off to the Western Humanities
Review, which our computerized library system, LCS, insists we don't
own, but which of course we do.

Guy may indeed have been genderless in Jim's 1944 army, but
in Edward Hackett's "The Ambivalence of Guy" _WRH_ 8 (1954): 273-74
it is unambivalently masculine. Hackett uses so many masculines
in that brief note they jarringly reminded me how few we see in
writing done today. The ambivalence of guy that Hackett discusses
deals not with gender but with whether guy is positive or negative,
an ordinary Joe or a figure of authority. Hackett refers to guy
as he, man, and even Superman.

Guy is variously derived from Guy Fawkes, whence clearly masculine,
or from the guy ropes and wires of the carney crowd, whence inanimate.
And of course there's guy from guida (f., but acc. to OED, applied to
males and therefore masc.), now obsolete.

But early use of guy in reference to a person, 19th c. and later,
seems to refer clearly and exclusively to males. And its use = `man,
fellow,' labeled American by OED, is also clearly masculine.

The shift of guy to a masculine/generic seems then to be more recent
than 1900, or even 1954 if Hackett is taken as an authority. Jim's
sense of mixed-sex guy from the 1940s, at least in military slang,
gives us an earlier date and an important clue in the development
of the word. Any attestations in WW2 fiction? Is the naked and
the dead scannable? Or James Jones?

Dennis Baron debaron@uiuc.edu
Dept. of English office: 217-244-0568
University of Illinois messages: 217-333-2392
608 S. Wright St fax: 217-333-4321
Urbana IL 61801
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------30----
Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1992 15:04 GMT +0100
From: J%org Knappen <KNAPPEN@VKPMZD.KPH.Uni-Mainz.de>
Subject: Re: 6.0179 Rs: TextCrit Challenge; Foucault; Guys (3/64)

Subj. You guys and Esperanto

In Esperanto the pronominal system (using the same form, `vi', both for
you (sg) and you (pl)) seems to be quite stable and does not develop forms
like y'all.

There is a singular form `ci', which is considered archaic and obsolete and
which is not in current usage.

A reason for this might be that the Esperanto community is very
conservative against language innovations and changes. Especially
innovations violating the `fundamento' by Zamenhof have no chance to be
accepted. This conservativism, however, was a necessary condition of the
success of esperanto.

Yours, J"org Knappen.