That Olde-Time Feeling

The indispensable Nancy Friedman forwards an e-mail she just got from the American grocery chain Trader Joe’s:

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I guess they’re trying to get an old-fashioned feel. And by “old-fashioned” I mean 1842–which was the last time favourite was more common than favorite in American English, according to this Google Ngram Viewer chart:

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11 responses to “That Olde-Time Feeling

  1. Before sharing this with some friends, I find myself having to research “nominative” vs. “oblique” cases.

    O Ye Who Shop At Trader Joe’s,
    I’ve never been there myself, and I’m not on their distribution list, but this blog to which I subscribe has alerted me to something of potential interest to ____.

    I’m certain that my use of the nominative plural in the salutation is correct for multiple addressees. According to this table (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Modern_English#Pronouns), I should fill in the blank with the oblique plural for consistency, but “you,” sounds way too modern for my purpose. Hence, I’m thinking to use the oblique singular, “thee,” to make the letter seem more personal.

    How am I doing?

  2. Hal – The Y in Ye is, I think, a thorn – a th sound – which was an Old-English letter. So Thee really is right.

    Thee and thou are still used in some north of England dialencts; in Sheffield said as Dee and Da. In Barnsley they call Sheffield folk DeeDas for that reason.

    • Unlike Facebook, WordPress doesn’t tell you that it was I who “liked” your reply; so, thank you.

    • When “Ye” is used to mean “The”, the “Y” is just a variant of thorn (the “th” sound).

      When “Ye” is used to mean “You”, it is an actual “Y” :)

  3. Hal, I got into this some time ago when I was trying to find out why
    English has the same word (you) for singular and plural. The you is not as modern as it sounds: According to Chambers, the archaic ye would have been used originally for the nominative and you for the dative and accusative. Later, Ye could be used for all those cases. So ye usage has been all over the shop (ye olde shoppe, although that is a different ye, just to confuse things even more!) for centuries and there is precedent for you to use it in the example you posted. Even better, there is the you equivalent yow (which Chambers gives as Middle English dative or accusative plural) which doesn’t sound at all modern. What I think you couldn’t do is use thee, which is singular.

  4. Hugh, I think I heard a programme on Radio 3 about the Sheffield and Barnsley Dee and Dah thing. It might have been The Verb, the programme presented by that (Barnsley?) poet whose name escapes me for the moment. You are right about the thorn letter (a th sound) but that ye is the definite article.

    Chambers has a long entry about the other ye (you): “derived from an Old English prefix ge, (of which ye is the nominative form), originally a preposition meaning with, together and was seen in nouns and adjectives, as gefera, companion, getheaht, counsel, gelic, alike and in verbs, as getheodan, to join together, and gerinnan, to congeal, but even in OE times, was often used with no very definite meaning. In primitive Germanic gi- imparted perfective meaning to past participles and in OE as ge- and in ME (as ze-, y- , i-, etc.) it was prefixed to past participles indiscriminately and it was in this way used freely by Spenser and other archaisers.”

    Archaisers! You are all now officially archaisers.

    • This is the first I’ve seen the noun or verb forms of “archaic.” That’s what I like about this blog…always learning something new.

  5. It’s the first time I’d seen it as well. It’s so like Chambers to throw in a comment like that using such an unusual word.

  6. Hal, it is not Thee but Thou. “O Thou who Shoppest at Trader Joe’s”.

    I shop – he/she/it shops (or shoppeth if you’re getting archaic) – you shop/thou shoppest/ye shop – they shop – we shop

    ‘Thee’ is the accusative I think:
    You shopped me – you shopped him/her/it – I shopped you/thee/ye – you shopped them – they shopped us

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