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Re: USAGE English 'thou' (was: Proto-Romance)

From:Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>
Date:Friday, March 26, 2004, 9:23
Philippe Caquant wrote:
> > Yes, it's something like that. I quite admit that > there must be some historical explanation, but to me > it looks very strange to have the pronoun included > between the stem and the tense+person. In French you > say "je LE verrai", in English "I shall see HIM", so > the pronoun is separated and placed, either before, > either after the verbal form, but not in the middle of > it ! (the same for many other European languages; and > the history of French future seems to me the same as > in Spanish or Portuguese, AFAIK).
Indeed, historically, the suffix wasn't a suffix, but rather an auxiliary like the way you say, in German, "I will him see". Once the historical auxiliary came to be seen as a suffix, it began to seem strange to place the object pronoun in the middle of the verb, and one began to separate it out. IINM, in Brazilian Portuguese one often hears things like (I'm going on a fairly distant memory of a Brazilian Portuguese class, so I may be in error) "Verei ele", using the *free* pronoun _ele_ (he) instead of the clitic form _o_. Presumably, in a couple of generations' time, they'll be back to using the object pronoun, but preposing it instead of interposing it, thus *o verei. A similar phenomenon is how, in English, the perfect went from "I have him seen" to "I have seen him", with the aspect/tense marker "have" and the verb "see" moved closer to each other. Or in Spoken French how forms like _Est-ce que l'homme vient?_ have replaced _L'homme vient-il?_ When formerly independant words come to be gramaticalized, they tend to lose freedom of movement (thus, _il_ can only be prefixed) and tend to become closer to the lexical form, pushing aside anything between it and the lexical word (thus, verlo-é -> lo veré; I have him seen -> I have seen him)