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Politeness in Prayer: T – V distinction in Religious Discourse Tatjana Samardžija-Grek University of Belgrade Faculty of Philology 1 CML Sept. 22-29 2011,

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Presentation on theme: "Politeness in Prayer: T – V distinction in Religious Discourse Tatjana Samardžija-Grek University of Belgrade Faculty of Philology 1 CML Sept. 22-29 2011,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Politeness in Prayer: T – V distinction in Religious Discourse Tatjana Samardžija-Grek University of Belgrade Faculty of Philology 1 CML Sept , Corfu

2 Object We examine the use of the familiar (“the T pronoun”) and the polite (“the V pronoun”) forms of personal pronoun in prayers : In the New Testament Greek and Hebrew text, In Jerome’s Vulgate and its translations, In the King James and other English version as well as In French Bibles, prayers and literature. CML Sept , Corfu2

3 Theoretical Framework Politeness theory (BROWN and LEVINSON, 1987; LEECH, 1983; MILLS, 2009) Proxemics (Edward T. HALL, The Hidden Dimension, 1966) Dialogical Principle (Das Dialogische Prinzip, M. Buber, Ich und Du, 1927, transl. R.G. Smith) CML Sept , Corfu3

4 General Hypothesis The use of the T pronoun in prayer reflects Positive Politeness, and, quite often, the Bold On-Record strategy toward the Positive Face of divinity. The V form in prayer is an expression of respectful distance which engenders Negative Politeness when the use of tu is seen as an FTA both for God/Mary/saints and the believer (to respect God and protect the praying person). There are two axes (dimensions) on which a prayer attitude is articulated: – Intimacy with God (“to love”, “to know”), implying Positive Politeness (closeness); – Revering God (“awe”), implying NEGATIVE Politeness (respect/protect). CML Sept , Corfu4

5 Dialogical Principle (M. Buber, 1927) There are two confronted types of an individual’s attitude to others and to the world: the I-Thou attitude and the I-It attitude. I-Thou: the speaker opens up personally to the listener as to his equal and sees the listener as a whole being, while the boundary between individuals disappears so that they are whole and boundless at the same time. I-It relationship: the hearer is an object – “It”; there is no real personal communication; the listener insists on the external limits of human beings as entities and therefore the listener is considered from outside, in space, but not from inside, as a person. Humanity is a sum of persons- objects surrounding the entrenched I. CML Sept , Corfu5

6 Proxemics (E.T. Hall, The Hidden Dimension, 1966) Different kinds of socially determined spaces (A. Pease, « zones », 1981) around every individual, not to be overstepped by others: Intimate space is the tightest circle surrounding a person, into which only the closest intimates can be accepted. Social/consultative space means minimal distance, larger than intimate spaces, between a person and his/her colleagues and acquaintances. Public space is the minimal distance between anonymous persons. CML Sept , Corfu6

7 The comparison of M. Buber’s and E.T. Hall’s concepts Highly accentuated spatiality in human’s verbal communication. The V pronoun betrays distance and the T pronoun implies closeness; The V form recognizes limits between persons and the T form ignores them. Consequentially, both distance/limits and closeness/boundlessness can be considered as polite or threatening according to the expectations of the listener. CML Sept , Corfu7

8 The Prayer – Thou or You? Ontological/psychological/emotional distance or closeness? Maximal possibility of FTA (fear or love) T-V opposition as an indicator of theological and social concepts in conflict CML Sept , Corfu8

9 T-V in the Bible and the Vulgate No polite forms in Hebrew, Greek Koiné and Latin. The T form for slaves, kings and God. Job to God: KJV Job 42:5 I have heard of thee (šᵊma'tika) by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee (ra’atka). David to God: KJV Psalm 5:4 For thou (‘atta h ) art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The three Hebrew slaves to Nebuchadnezzar: KJV Daniel 3:17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand (jadak), O king. CML Sept , Corfu9

10 T-V in the Bible and the Vulgate Apostle Paul to governor Felix: KJV Acts 24:11 Because that thou mayest understand (dynamenu su gnonai), that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship. Paul to king Agrippa: KJV Acts 26:27 King Agrippa, believest thou (pisteueis) the prophets? I know that thou believest. Heavenly beings to the Lamb: KJV Revelation 5:9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy (aksios ei) to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed (esfages kai egorasas to theo en to haimati su) us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation… CML Sept , Corfu10

11 T-V in the Bible and the Vulgate Elijah to YHWH: 1 Kings 18:36 …Domine Deus Abraham Isaac et Israhel hodie ostende quia tu es Deus Israhel et ego servus tuus et iuxta praeceptum tuum feci omnia verba haec… The slain martyrs to God: Revelation 6:10 … usquequo Domine sanctus et verus non iudicas et vindicas sanguinem nostrum … CML Sept , Corfu11

12 T-V in English Henry SWEET’s Short Historical English Grammar, (1892: § 375): „In Early MnE [Modern English] the use of the ceremonial plural ye/you was so much extended that it became the usual polite form of address, the singular thou being used mainly to express familiarity and contempt, which latter use brought about its complete disuse in the spoken language of the present [i.e. the 19th ] century, which therefore makes no distinction of number in the personal pronoun of the second person. But we still preserve the old thou in the poetical and liturgical language.“ CML Sept , Corfu12

13 T-V in English Since mid-17th century, neutralization of thou/ye opposition. This opposition is preserved – In KJV (1611); – In the speech of Quakers; – In many recent translations. The form you has prevailed in prayers and service of all other English speaking Christians. They read “Thy kingdom come » but pray “We ask you in the name of Jesus”. CML Sept , Corfu13

14 T-V in English KJV (1611) Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Noah Webster Bible (1833) Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as {it is} in heaven. Young’s Literal Translation (1862/1887/1898) Thy reign come: Thy will come to pass, as in heaven also on the earth. Douai-Reims American (1899) Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Revised Standard Version (1952) Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. New American Standard (1977) Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. New King James (1982) Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. New Jerusalem Bible (1985) your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. The NET Bible (2004, 2005) may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. CML Sept , Corfu14

15 To resume... Paradoxically, the historical T form thou, which, already in Shakespeare, marks inferiority of rank or disdain, has become to the present day highly formal and lofty as a feature of the Biblical style, whereas the historical plural form (and consequently the form of politeness) you/ye has become so familiar that many modern translators still found it inadequate (Negative Face) to be addressed to God. CML Sept , Corfu15

16 T-V opposition in French prayers The use of personal pronouns in prayer is so eloquent and so relevant a feature of the general relationship man – God/deity/saint, that it has even been a matter of conflict in history, or one of surface issues of a controversy with deep theological roots. Historically, it is well known that, with the beginning of the Reformation in France, the Huguenots were known as the tutoyeurs de Dieu - those who say thou to God – by the Catholics, who, traditionally, spoke vous to God, Mary and the saints. CML Sept , Corfu16

17 Vous Vous to God as old as La Chanson de Roland. V : « E ! Deus », dist Charles, « le dreit en esclargiez ! » Feudalism: the tool of social stratification; An uninterrupted pyramid stretched from a common mortal all the way to God Himself, passing by the Throne of France; The social stratification of the Earthly City was to be understood as the replica of the City of God; Respectful distance between man and God /Mary/saints is to be translated into the V form (Negative Politeness). CML Sept , Corfu17

18 Tu Was that a verbal expression of social and religious anarchism of Protestants (Huguenots)? Vous to earthly authorities, tu to God. Protestants considered the Bible as the highest authority. The Sola Scriptura principle had at least 3 corollaries when it comes to the use of T or V pronoun in prayer: CML Sept , Corfu 18

19 Tu 1 st There is an ontological abyss between God and all humans, which only God can surmount. Therefore, only God is worth adoration (Soli Deo Gloria); 2 nd Nowhere in the Bible is there any trace of a V pronoun as a sign of respect for God., so tu is by no means a mark of irreverence in the Bible. 3 rd The same Bible enjoined them to “know God”, i.e. to enter into a close and vital relationship with God. CML Sept , Corfu19

20 T-V in French Catholicism Today Vatican II (1965) favorable to the use of tu; John-Paul II and Benedict XVI – much T to God and to Mary; Seen as a FTA: « The use of tu denotes equality and familiarity. The use of vous is the sign of politeness and respect. “ “We fear that this systematic thouing may give them a false image of God, an image simplistic, egalitarian and human... There is no real adoration without saying vous. » CML Sept , Corfu20

21 Conclusions Two axes of politeness: Closeness/intimacy/love. This axis insists on knowing God intimately, of the re-ligio, i.e. the re-union of man and God. With respect to this dimension, it is highly desirable to be close to God. The polar values of this continuum are: + POSITIVE: closeness > The T form is required - NEGATIVE distance > The V form is face-threatening (FTA) Distance/Reverence/Awe. Here the V form expresses respectful distance in our communication with God because of our ontological distance. V form : protects and respect. The polar values of this continuum are: + POSITIVE: distance > The V form is required - NEGATIVE: closeness > The T form is face-threatening (FTA) CML Sept , Corfu 21

22 Corpus BOSSUET, Jacques-Bénigne ( , s.d.), Oraisons funèbres et sermons. Paris : Hachette CANTIQUES POUR LES EXERCICES SPIRITUELS, DONNES PAR LES RR. PP. CAPUCINS (1869). Lyon:Briday FENELON ( , 1965), Ecrits spirituels. Paris : Nouveaux classiques Larousse Berthelot le Huguenot insaisissable. Manuscrit de l’Orte (1995). Mougon : Geste Editions HUGO, Victor (1856, 1971), Les Contemplations. Paris : Nouveaux classiques Larousse HUGO, Victor (1831, 1835, 1936), Les Feuilles d’Automne. Les Chants du Crépuscule. Paris : Nelson MELVILLE, Herman (1851, 1949), Moby Dick. Everyman’s Library. London: J.M. Dent& Sons; New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1949, p. 70 VOLTAIRE (1734), Lettres philosophiques : « Sur les Quakers », in : Oeuvres philosophiques, Classiques Larousse, Paris, 1934 WILLIAMS, Joseph M. (1992), “ ’O! When Degree is Shak'd' Sixteenth-Century anticipations of Some Modern Attitudes Toward Usage In 'English in its Social Contexts: Essays”, p in Historical Socio-Linguistics. edited by Tim William Machan and Charles T. Scott, OUP LINGUIST List 7.599, Tue Apr Sum: Thou and You CML Sept , Corfu22

23 Bibliography BARGHIELA-CHIAPPINI (2003), “Face and politeness: new (insights) for old (concepts)”, Journal of Pragmatics, n° 35, pp BROWN, P. & LEVINSON, S. (1987), Politeness: Some universals in language usage, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press BUBER, Martin (1937), I and Thou, transl. by Ronald Gregor Smith, Edinburgh, T. and T. Clark FREEBORN, Denis (1998), From Old English to Standard English, 2 nd edition, London, McMillan Press (479 p.) HALL, Edward T. (1966), The Hidden Dimension, Doubleday, New York LEECH, G.N. (1983), Principles of Pragmatics, Longman (250 p.) MILLS, Sarah (2009), „Impoliteness in cultural context“, Journal of Pragmatics, n°41, pp PEASE, Allan (1981), Body Language. How to Read Others’ Thoughts by Their Gestures, Sheldon Press, London (152 p.) SWEET, Henry (1892), A Short Historical English Grammar, Clarendon Press (264 p.) CML Sept , Corfu23


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