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 --- "Douglas Koller, Latin & French" skrzypszy:

> So I'm boning up on Dutch over the summer, and all three of the Teach
> Yourself books I borrowed from the local library mention "gij". All
> three say it's biblical, so don't worry about it (then *why* did you
> bring it up in the first place?; I could've sat in blissful
> ignorance, thank you very much).

Those who claim that "gij" is used only in the Bible, can be both accused of
not knowing literature and of never having been in contact with people in/from
Belgium. For the rest, the are right: it is true that it appears often in the
Bible. It's one of the things that those who advocate a more
contemporary-sounding translation of the Bible most want to get rid of.
AFAIK Its usage can be compared with British "thou".

> But one gave us "gij zijd",

That's wrong, the only correct way to spellig it is: "gij zijt" (or in the past
tense: "gij waart").

> which looks like it may fall in the same spot on the paradigm as "ihr
> seid". But that was it! So in the present tense do I plunk a "-t" on
> the stem like "jij"; do I plunk an "-en" on like "jullie";  or is
> there some wildly errant form I need to know about? And do other
> tenses behave regularly (I assume they do)?

Historically, it was indeed the second person plural. Gradually, it replaced
the original second person singular "du" (a development similar to English) and
eroded into "jij". "Du" has disappeared from our language completely. Perhaps
that it might have survived in some dialects; in Frisian (needless to say that
Frisian is not a dialect, but a language) it is still the normal 2nd person

The second person plural was substituted with a description: "gij-lieden" or
"je-lui" (you guys), that evolved into "jullie". In some dialects, the same
thing happens also with the first and/or third person: "wullie" < "wij-lieden",
"zullie" < "zij-lieden" or "hullie" < "hun-lieden".
Verbs usually take the ending "-en" after "jullie", but there are some people,
including my aunt, who says "jullie bent" instead of "jullie zijn". This sounds
a bit strange to me, but it's not incorrect.

And then there is the polite form "u", which was originally the accusative of
"gij", the possessive pronoun being "uw". It can be used for both singular and
plural, but verbs can only take a singular form, either the second or the third
person. The effect of either choice varies from verb to verb.

"Gij" is not completely dead in Holland, but sounds extremely archaic.

So, have a look at the verb "zijn" (to be) in its present tense:

Middle Dutch:         Modern Dutch:
ic        ben         ik          ben
du        best        jij         bent
...                   u           bent/is
hy/zy/het is          hij/zij/het is
wy        zyn         wij         zijn
gy        zyt         jullie      zijn (bent)
zy        zyn         zij         zijn

I am not entirely sure about the situation in Belgium. Flemish, in general,
tends to be more conservative and contains more archaisms than the Northern
dialects. To me it seems that the development stuck when "gij" became second
person singular. Both "jij" and "jullie" are not frequently used in Belgium; it
is more common to use "gij" or "u".
I could be wrong about the above.

> Oooooooo!

Don't worry, you'll probably survive it :)


"Originality is the art of concealing your source." - Franklin P. Jones

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