Hey you!…..

Most of us know the difference between the intimate French tu and the more impersonal (and polite) vous.

A similar distinction exists in Arabic between anta (‘you’ singular) and antum (‘you’ plural) – addressing an important person with anta (anti is the feminine version)  rather than antum would be considered impolite.

In Vietnam there are no fewer than eighteen words for ‘you’, the use of which depends on whom you are addressing, whether a child or a senior citizen, whether formally or informally.

And in the Western Australian Aboriginal language of Jiwali there are four words for ‘we’: ngali means ‘we
two including you’; ngaliju means ‘we two excluding you’;nganthurru means ‘we all including you’; and nganthurraju means ‘we all excluding you’.


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