"You" or "Ye" would be used on formal occasions,
or when one is addressing one of higher social rank.
Never call the Royals "Thee" or "thou".
2nd person----you ye
3rd person----she, he, it they
"Thee" or "thou" are informal forms of address and would be used when speaking to a friend or one of equal or lower social standing.
2nd person----thee, thou ye
3rd person----he, she, it they
(Note: Don't switch from formal to informal, or vice versa, in the same conversation.)
"Thou" is nominative. (Used as the subject of the sentence and is usually the first noun in the sentence.)
Examples: Thou(subject) hast slain me(object).
Thou (subject) liest.
(Note: Verbs following "thou" tend to end in "-st". We'll go into this in more depth when we deal with verb endings.)
"Thee" is objective. (Used as the object in the sentence. The object is the word affected by the verb.)
Examples: I(subject) love thee(object).
We (subject) shall slay thee (object).
The possessive form of "thee/thou" is "thy"
"Thy" precedes words beginning with a consonant. Thy friend. Thy castle.
"Thin" precedes words beginning with a vowel. Thine honor. Thine arse.
(Note: When a word beginning with a vowel follows “my” it becomes "mine". Mine eyes. Mine Uncle.)
To choose between addressing someone as "you" or "thee/thou:"
THEE/THOU is the informal/friendly second person singular. Use it when speaking to a friend or someone of lower social status than yourself.
YOU is the formal, polite second person singular address. Use it when speaking to someone of higher status or to one who is not a close friend.
Note that in modern English usage the informal thee/thou has fallen out of use--everyone gets the formal/polite treatment. Ever notice how we call anyone a lady or a gentleman so that those words are now meaningless? ("Yes, officer, that drunken homeless gentleman over there was urinating on the sidewalk.")
We also use the honorifics "Mr.", "Mrs.", and "Miss" (or at least the modern "Ms.") for darn near anyone even though before this century they were reserved for persons of higher status. These terms derive from "Master" and "Mistress" which were technically only for gentlemen and gentlewomen (i.e. about 1% of the population).
The lesson here is that renaissance English was much more sensitive to the stratification of social classes. This basic social inequality was to some extent reflected in the language, right down to such basic elements as grammar. Times have changed and we are much more "democratic" now, so language has changed along with society.
The romance languages (such as Spanish or French) still have both forms. In Spanish "tu" is analogous to thee/thou while "usted" is like "you."
I have noticed many people at fest, such as shopkeepers, pull out what they believe is their most formal language when the royalty visits them. This often means they struggle along with "thee/thou" in addressing the King & Queen when they should properly be using "you" (the phrase "Thy Majesty" doesn't make sense, does it? It's "Your Majesty."). We don't criticize them--they are putting forth an effort. But now you all know that it’s (grammatically!) easy to address the nobility--just use the modern "you" form.
Let us move furtherward to those confusing verb endings.
A verb is a word that describes an action or something being done.
Verb ending in the letter "s" should end in
"-th", "-eth", "-st" or "-est".
Examples: Modern becomes Renaissance
runs.......................runneth or runnest
kisses.....................kisseth or kissest
does.......................doth or dost
kills.........................slayeth or slayest
There are rules governing when to use "-eth" and when to use "-est" but we don't need to go into that now. For the purpose of giving our language a renaissance flavor, either works.
(Note: "Will" and "shall" become "wilt" and "shalt" when used with "thee" or "thou.)
Tips for the use of "-est" & "-st" vs. "-eth" & "-th"
In the first person (Where the subject is "I"
or "we") These ending are not used. It's just like modern English.
Examples: I kill.
The second person singular ("Thou") uses the
"-st" or "-est" endings.
Examples: Thou takest my breath from me.
How dost thou?
The third person singular ("He", "She", "It",
"This", "That", "[Someone's Name]") uses the "-eth" and "-th" endings.
Examples: This format of rules and examples sucketh!
It biteth the big one.
He doth not make this easy, doth he?
If the subject is plural, the verb will not have any of these endings.
Do not use contractions. Generally, they enter the language later and, to the modern ear, the longer form sounds more elegant and Old. If you know an older or more poetic word for something, use it. Car becomes Cart, pants becomes breeches/venetians/slops, house becomes cottage/manor, hat becomes chapeau and so on... Change your sentence structure a bit. "I discussed the issue with him" becomes "I did discuss the matter with that good man." Pronounce the all the letters in the word. Action (akshon) becomes act-i-on; schedule (skedul) becomes shed-u-le. Find historical cuss words. If you must swear, avoid the everyday ones. "Godsteeth!" is just as effective without being common or offensive. These guidelines may not be historically correct but they add an elegance, formality, and foreignness to our everyday speech that takes the listener out of his normal world into ours.
Paying your do's:
It can be very effective to place the word
"do" (or "did") before active verbs.
Examples: I'faith if you do sing again, I do fear madness will befall me.
We did go unto the festival. Aye, we did eat and drink most well.
To be or not to be:
The word "be" (or "were") can be used in place
of "is", "am" & "are".
Examples: They all be peasants and, by'r ladykins, I be one as well.
It were a good thing that his majesty, the king did not see thee sit upon his throne.
Thou wert then in peril of thy life.
It's all about me:
Add the word "me" after first person verbs:
Examples: I will sit me down the while and think me on this matter.
Add the word "you" or "thee" to commands:
Examples: Pray, sit you down, my gentle
Drink thee an ale with me, my merry fellow!
Try to eliminate most modern contractions from your vocabulary when speaking at the Renaissance Festival. I know that's a bit vague. Some contractions were used, but they were often not the same ones we use today.
Contractions to avoid: I’m, we're, they're,
don't, can't, it's, won't, you're
Substitute: I am, we are, they are, do not, can not, it is, will not, you are
Contractions such as these tend to rob your speech of the very renaissance flavour that we are trying to cultivate. You can, of course, make a case for modern contractions being used in renaissance speech ("Aye, there's the rub.") I don't expect you to be able to completely eradicate these from your speech. If, however, your contractions come too frequently, you will be expected to give birth shortly thereafter.
There are some contractions that will actually improve the flavour of you speech.
‘tis it's or it is
‘twas it was
‘twould it would
‘twill it will
‘twere it were
is't is it?
shan’t shall not or will not
e'en even, also evening
You can also drop the "v" from the middle of
SAY: INSTEAD OF:
Phrases can be contracted, dropping whole words.
"Let us (go) to bed."
"I'll (have) none of thee."
"I will (go) away."
"Go to ( )."
We already introduced "tis well" as an all
purpose period substitute for "OK".
"God's Teeth!" would be used anywhere you might say "Geez!" (or you favorite similar blasphemy or 4 letter version). A similar popular period exclamation: "God's Blood!" You can also make up your own: "God's ______(body part)" "God's butt!" was probably not used in period but I have heard it at a RenFaire that follows this pattern--I suppose "God's arse!" would be more period. "Zounds!” is short for "God's wounds" so make it rhyme with wounds, often pronounced as "zwoonds"
And now the F-word:
"Fie!" is a VERY useful word. A general
expression of disgust. (pronounced "fy")
Examples: "Oh, Fie!"
"Fie and fie again!"
"Fie upon it!" or "Fie upon that!" or "Fie upon you!"
(Note: They didn't say "Fie you" though, sorry.)
"Tush!" is used alone (unlike Fie above).
Sort of a mild exclamation.
Example: "Tush, sir! Surely you jest!"
"Go to!" is a period exclamation often
used the way we would answer an astonishing statement from a friend: "Get
outta here! Really?"
Example: "The king is coming to this dungheap? Go to!"
I would encourage everyone to pick one they enjoy and get in the habit of saying it. It can become quite automatic after awhile, such as: "God's Teeth! This heat is killing me!"
Recommended by John Neitz-On-line book-Description of Elizabethan England, 1577