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Thu/Sibh in Gaelic

Posted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 5:12 pm
by virtualvinodh
I frequently see people using /thu/ to refer to others (in this forum and also other places). I find it kinda awkward to see /thu/ being used to refer to other persons (whom you don't know personally). Personally, I always tend to use /sibh/ to address people - given that, none of my acquaintances or friends speak Gaelic :D

As in Gaelic, most Indian languages have both second person singular & plural pronouns. In any Indian language, it would be very rude to address an unfamiliar person (or some one much older) with a second person singular pronoun. Is this the same with traditional Gaelic usage too ? If not, what sort of formality is /sibh/ generally associated with ?


Re: Thu/Sibh in Gaelic

Posted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 11:56 pm
by Seonaidh
If the "traditional" Gaelic usage is the same as in Irish (which it may well not be), then "thu" is always used for a single person address and "sibh" for more than one. However, that is definitely not modern Gaelic usage.

On this forum, most of us like to consider ourselves as being reasonably friendly with others and also being relatively equal with them, so we're likwly to use "thu" when addressing another member in Gaelic. In general, though, "thu" is used between friends (of any age) and by older people to younger people: younger people are supposed to show respect for older people they don't know by using "sibh". In many island communities it is also de rigueur to address the local priest or minister as "sibh".

Also, for some reason there is a tendency to use "thu" in the context of a class of adults learning Gaelic - that is, even the teacher is address using "thu". I'm not quite sure why that is: maybe a thought for making the language more "accessible" - who knows? It doesn't really mirror real life (e.g. a teacher at a Gaelic school would most certainly expect pupils to address her or him as "sibh").

Re: Thu/Sibh in Gaelic

Posted: Tue May 06, 2014 5:01 pm
by bb3ca201
I can provide a very practical, personal example. Even though I generally use "thu" with nearly every Gaelic speaker I meet, I continue to say "sibh" to a lovely cailleach (old lady) who is actually an instructor -- even though I know her by name.

For me, the issue also includes respect...hence my usage above.