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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

96                  The Loom of Language
derivative forms bakes, types, or conquers, are dictated by context in
accordance with the conventions of our language The final ~s adds
nothing necessary to the meaning of a statement*
This flexion is our only surviving relic of a much more complicated
system m the Enghsh of Alfred the Great, and sull extant in most
European languages To understand its importance in connexion with
correct usage in many other languages,, we have to distinguish a class
of words called personal pronouns Since the number of them is small,
this is not difficult. Excluding the possessive forms mine9 ours> etc , the
personal pronouns are:—/ or me> we or us, you> he or him, she or /zŁ?,
it> and they or them I or me and we or us are modestly called pronouns
of the first person, you is the English pronoun of the second person,
and he or him, she or hery tt, they or them are pionouns of the thud
person The pronouns of the fiist person stand for, or include, the
person making a statement The pronoun of the second person stands
for the person or persons whom we addiess, and the pronouns of
the third person stand for the persons or things about whom or about
which we make a statement or ask a question
To make room for all the flexions of person m foreign languages, we
have to go a stage further in classifying pronouns If the statement is
about one person or thing, the pronoun which stands for it is singular*,
if it is about more than one person or thing, the pronoun is said to be
plural. Thus / and me are pronouns of the first person singular; we and
MS pronouns of first person plural. He and him9 she and hers together
with ity are pronouns of the third person singular, and they or them are
pronouns of the third person plural. In modern English or, as we ought
to say and as we shall say in future when we want to distinguish it from
Bible English, in Anglo-American, there is only one pronoun of the
second person singular or plural In the Bible English of 'Mayflower days
there were two, Thou and thee were the pronouns of the second person
singular, and ye was for converse with more than one person* Thou
is de ngueur in churches as the pronoun of address for a threefold
deity Orthodox members of the Society of Friends use thee when
speaking to one another. When ordinary people still used thou*> there
was another flexion of person. They said thou speakest, in contra-
distinction to you speak or he speaks.
Classification of the personal pronouns in this way would be quite
pointless if everybody used Anglo-American We can appreciate its
usefulness if we compare Anglo-American and French equivalents
on p. 35, The simple English rule for the surviving -s flexion is this.