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German 'duzen' and 'siezen' — etymology ?

From:Doug Barr <lingoman@...>
Date:Tuesday, October 17, 2006, 19:08
I remember being shocked speechless on a student exchange trip to
Québec - I'd previously gone to a boarding school there and become
bilingual, but of course boarding schools are very formal and we
wouldn't have *dared* to tutoyer a teacher. When I went to Québec, I
found my exchange-mates not only "tutoyer-ing" their teachers, but in
one case addressing a teacher to his face by a nickname, Kellogg (the
teacher's given name was Réal, and "c'est Réal" "it's Réal" sounds
like "céréale" "cereal," hence "Kellogg"). Shocking! :-D

Scottish Gaelic has adopted the same formal use of the plural "sibh"
as French - "thu" = "tu" = singular informal, "sibh" = "vous" =
singular formal or plural - but Irish hasn't, so Irish people's habit
of calling clergy, police, government officers etc. "tú" is rather
shocking to Scottish Gaels. In my own expatriate community I find it
interesting that I automatically use one or the other because the
other option seems wrong, without really thinking about it. Muirneag
and Péigi are both in their late 60s, but I call Péigi "thu" without
thinking about it whereas I would never call Mòrag anything but
"sibh", even though I know them about equally well. I think it must
be a reflection of their personalities, Péigi is much more animated
and easy-going than Muirneag, who is rather reserved.

I also find it hard to get through to English speakers that Gaels do
*not* use the equivalents of Mr. and Mrs. with each other. My
students naturally want to call me Mr. Barr, but I have to explain to
them that they should call me Dughall but use "sibh" to me. The
"sibh" part, they get - but calling me by my first name goes against
the grain of English politeness...


'S fhearr an saoghal ionnsachadh na sheachnadh. Better to teach (or
learn) the world than shun it. (Gaelic proverb)

On Oct 17, 2006, at 1:27 AM, René Uittenbogaard wrote:

> Het gejij en gejou tegen leraren moet ophouden. > The "Duzen" of teachers has to stop. > > > René


Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>