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Politeness: A Question for You



     Diana Hull brings up an American usage which seems to thrive in Texas:
     "You are fortunate for having only been addressed as "Ronald" by high school and college age students who don't know any better. Even more distasteful is the waiter or waitress, in a very nice restaurant, who "bops" over to your table and asks, "what can I get you guys!" Later an inquiry about your enjoyment of the meal takes the form of "you guys doin' alright?"


     A reply from this guy: An Englishman coming to America or a Spaniard going to Spanish America is struck by words which have disappeared in the mother country (e.g."gotten"). "Guy" must have once been used in England, since the word comes from Guy Fawkes (1570-1606), a Catholic who tried (but failed) to blow up parliament and the king in the Gunpowder Plot (1605). His death was celebrated, even in the colonies, each November 1 by burning him in effigy. Hence the meaning "an odd figure," certainly not a flattering form of address.
     The English equivalent would be "you fellows", which derives from the word for cattle. "You chaps" derives from the word for jaw or cheek. Guy derives from the Italian "Guido." Do Quakers still use "thou"? It does no appear in modern spelling checkers.


     Moral: Be ye therefore vigilant lest ye be regarded as cheeky chaps.

Ronald Hilton - 12/1/99


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