A Comparison of Pronoun Systems and Address Terms in English and French.

A comparison of pronoun systems and address terms in English and French.

The modern languages of English and French share histories of great literary prowess and achievement. These two languages have repeatedly, and continue to today, exchanged linguistic elements and systems so much so that in observing mechanisms such as pronoun usage and kinship terms some very interesting differences and similarities appear.
When observing the pronoun systems of the English and French languages, some interesting and significant differences emerge. For example in the English language, the pronoun you is used to address a single person in the second person. But the function of this word you also extends to address multiple people in the second person. Ergo if one were to listen to a recorded speech in which the speaker addressed his audience with the pronoun you, it would impossible to determine solely from that whether that person was speaking to one listener or many. Instead, English speakers must observe the overall context of what is being said to determine whether the you form is plural or singular.
In the French language however, a different system exists in which a distinction is made between addressing single and multiple persons in the second person. Where in English one would address a single person with the word you, in French the equivalent pronoun is the word tu. But unlike in English this tu form cannot be used to address multiple people in the second person. Instead the plural form vous is used (see Appendix A).
Additionally, the English language does not distinguish between formal and informal address by way of differing pronouns. French on the other hand does use its pronoun system to make this distinction. As well as serving to specify whether one is speaking to one person or a group of people, the French pronouns tu and vous also denote different levels of formality; tu being the informal and vous being the formal. For instance when speaking to a friend...