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March 2003, Week 2


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"Larsson, Donald F" <[log in to unmask]>
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 10 Mar 2003 20:50:07 -0600
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On location, one website has the actual filming done in northern California, near Chico:
Not untypical substitution of landscape--even now.

I believe that Quaker usage has differed in the past from what used to be more formal, grammatical usage (see below).  The story is from a novel by Jessamyn West, who was herself a Quaker--and a cousin of Richard Nixon!  Shakespeare has little to do with the deliberate archaism, but it's been a while since I've seen the film, so I can't say if the film itself is completely and accurately Quakerish in usage.

You can find one exchange on the linguistic issue at:

Another account has the following:
"Early Quakerism was essentially a gathering in of middle-class people, sober, sensible
sorts from the north and west of England,  people who were not impressed by the
extravagant manner of the Cavalier dandy with his sweeping feathers, lace flourishes, and
his grand use of a plural "you" as a singular pronoun. In seventeenth-century England, this
usage differentiated th e nobility from all others.. (It survives today in isolated in stances such
as the "royal we" and the "editorial we.") George Fox and his early followers refused to
acknowledge "you"as a singular pronoun. They substituted in its stead "thou"  and, in the
American colonies, "thee." Early Quakers had many reasons for this practice, social,
grammatical, even theological. (My personal favourite is the argument that Adam an d Eve
addressed one another as "thou" when they were in the garden.)
In 1666 two of Fox's followers published a polyglot grammar which, the authors hoped,
would demonstrate conclusively th at "you" was the plura l form of the pr onoun and could not
be used as a singular. The authors surveyed more than forty languages and claimed to find
the same phenomenon concerning singular and plural forms of address::
"You to Many and Thou to One: Singular One, Thou; Plural Many, You" again and
again "and how the word You to One came first from the Pope.....But to say the Plural in
the Singular's place, you, for thou, this pleases our Priests, and School-masters, and
peevish Magistrates: Thou's thou me, Cry they: and thus they have forgotten their

You can find more on the web and in print resources as well.

Don Larsson

"Only connect" --E.M. Forster
Donald F. Larsson
English Dept., AH 230
Minnesota State University
Mankato, MN  56001

        -----Original Message-----
        From: Scott Andrew Hutchins [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
        Sent: Sun 3/9/2003 1:14 PM
        To: [log in to unmask]
        Subject: Friendly Persuasion

        I watched this the other day and there were two things that seemed to me incorrect.  One was the landscape of the battles, which looked like typical Hollywood Western country, when I visited the actual places (and I think they set the battle further south than where it was) earlier this year when making a PBS spot, and know they look nothing like that.  If it were being made now, they'd probably shoot here and close off and redress the area, but they rarely did that back then.

        The other was a question some of you history buffs might be able to answer, and it's that in the film, the Quakers use "thee" (objective) and "thy" (possessive), but never "thou" (subjective), and used "thee" when "thou" is grammatically correct.  Is this accurate to how the Quakers spoke, or a Hollywood mistake?  The actors sometimes sounded a little awkward when using "thee" as a subject, which grammatically it should never be, but perhaps this is because they're familiar with it from Shakespeare and it doesn't feel right saying it that way, even though it might be culturally accurate, which is my question.

        Scott Andrew Hutchins
        [log in to unmask]

        Examine The Life of Timon of Athens at Cracks in the Fourth Wall
        Theatre & Filmworks

        "But since in fact we see that avarice, anger, envy, pride, sloth, lust and stupidity commonly profit far beyond humility, chastity, fortitude, justice and thought, and have to choose, to be human at all...why then perhaps we *must* stand fast a little--even at the risk of being heroes." --Sir Thomas More, _A Man for All Seasons_, by Robert Bolt

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