Belgian Pronouns

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nyong
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Belgian Pronouns

Post by nyong » Thu Jan 07, 2010 8:13 am

Hi!

I've got some questions about the pronouns in Belgium:

1) Since u(w) is used irrespective of formality or politeness, does it mean that you also use gij/ge regardless of the level of familiarity with the interlocutor? Thus something like you, which is used practically for everybody in English?
Do you address someone you don't know, or in formal situations, with gij?
How about your parents, uncles, aunts, and grandparents?

2) For the second person plural in the spoken language, do you usually use jullie, or do you also use gij & u, which would be similar as English you which can be used to address one person or more?

Groetjes

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Re: Belgian Pronouns

Post by Grytolle » Thu Jan 07, 2010 2:05 pm

nyong wrote:1) Since u(w) is used irrespective of formality or politeness, does it mean that you also use gij/ge regardless of the level of familiarity with the interlocutor? Thus something like you, which is used practically for everybody in English?
Sort of. Many speakers have the bad habit of using standard Dutch, which makes them use "u" or "jij"...
nyong wrote:Do you address someone you don't know, or in formal situations, with gij?
depends on who you meet... for example you always adress a university professor you don't know with "u" (and mostly you always adress them that way even when you do know eachother)
nyong wrote:How about your parents, uncles, aunts, and grandparents?
Gij. And my guess is that it'd be increasingly weird to adress them with "jij" or "u" if they're older, since grandparents quite often can't speak standard Dutch at all
nyong wrote:2) For the second person plural in the spoken language, do you usually use jullie, or do you also use gij & u, which would be similar as English you which can be used to address one person or more?
In general, "jullie" is used, because there is no obvious Flemish alternative. A few common forms that are quite often used in non-dialect are: gijle, gulder, gulle (all of which are conjugated like "gij": gijle/gulder/gulle slaapt)

In general, you can and should use "gij" in all non-professional situations, atleast if you know the person. In other situations it might be a good idea to start of with "u", and whenever they start adressing you with gij or jij, you start adressing them with gij too. "Jij" you only need to use when asked to (for example an employer might want you to adress your customers like that; in class it's common to adress other students with "jij" in a teacher lead discussion etc)

Online
"u" is only used on websites, although many sites try to be friendlier with "jij"... sometimes it becomes rather ridiculous, like when Brussel Airlines adress you with "jij" in their super formal rules of conduct (or something... I forgot the title of the document :( ).

when chatting over instant messaging "gij" is mostly used, but some people use "jij", either because they consciously choose to practice standard Dutch whenever they write, or because they have the misguided idea that it's appropriate to :p

when e-mailing either is used, but a bit more "jij" than when chatting, probably because you always pay a bit more attention to language when writing longer messages

On forums I don't really know... I haven't gotten a good idea of it since I generally only visit language forums, and the Flemish people there aren't very representative (most of them are a bit obsessed with correct language and do their best to write Unflemishly)... I could imagine that you can see a correlation between the seriousness of a post and its use of pronouns though

On facebook, lots of people use "jij" (might even be more common than "gij", but I of course haven't seen a very representative selection of facebook profiles), and it's really weird. My guess is that a lot of people (unconsciously?) try to use "better" language than they normally would because a lot of people are always reading over your shoulder there

... I hope I didn't forget anything. Also, this is very much based on subjective impressions, so take it for what it is
:-)

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Re: Belgian Pronouns

Post by Quetzal » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:44 pm

nyong wrote:Hi!

I've got some questions about the pronouns in Belgium:

1) Since u(w) is used irrespective of formality or politeness, does it mean that you also use gij/ge regardless of the level of familiarity with the interlocutor? Thus something like you, which is used practically for everybody in English?
Do you address someone you don't know, or in formal situations, with gij?
How about your parents, uncles, aunts, and grandparents?
I think what you don't realize here is that while "gij" and "u" happen to have the same forms in accusative, dative and the possessive ("u", "u", "uw"), they're still separate pronouns. We use "u" pretty much the same way as the Dutch do (although perhaps the Dutch are slightly less formal in some regards), the only difference is that where they say "jij", we say "gij".

I largely agree with what Grytolle said about when to use what, but to some extent it also depends on your family and environment. Personally, I use jij when talking to children (and to my younger sister, who's not really a child anymore, but I guess I'm used to it now), and in my environment there's quite a few people who do that, but I don't know how widespread it is. There also seems to be a trend among a fair amount of girls and young women to use "jij" instead of "gij" because they think it sounds cute (or at least that seems to be the motivation, I never did ask). Again, around here at least, perhaps not so much elsewhere. Lastly, there's a phenomenon that I guess you could view as hypercorrection: when people who ordinarily speak a heavy dialect, particularly West-Flemish, make an effort to speak "Algemeen Nederlands" because they're talking to people who don't know their dialect, they sometimes start using "jij", because that's what they've been taught in school.

I should also add that there are many semi-official letters or texts in which the authors seem incapable of sticking with either "jij" or "u" (you won't find "gij" in any but the most informal written language), and use some combination of the two. It irritates me enormously when people do that, but it happens a lot. It's one thing if the author uses "jij" in a misguided attempt to sound informal or kind, as in Grytolle's example, but far worse when they can't even be bothered to be consistent about it.

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Re: Belgian Pronouns

Post by nyong » Sat Jan 09, 2010 5:14 am

Bedankt!

@Quetzal
I knew that gij had u(w) as its object/possessive form. What I didn't know was whether the use of u as a subject as "foreign" was as the use of jij in the spoken language for Flemings.
I read that in the Netherlands u only started to be used as a subject in the end of the 19th century.

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Re: Belgian Pronouns

Post by Grytolle » Sat Jan 09, 2010 11:30 am

I'd say it *does* feel less foreign than jij :) "jij" hasn't gained any ground in dialects at all, but "u" has... My girlfriend does use "u" quite a lot with strangers, but never "jij" with anyone (except the occasional AN-reflex when writing)
:-)

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Re: Belgian Pronouns

Post by elvisrules » Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:04 pm

What's with people using the fake sounding 'jij' with children, it's not as if they won't understand you otherwise, I think it's ridiculous. They'll probably be influenced by the tussentaal at school anyway and end up using 'gij' incorrectly...

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Re: Belgian Pronouns

Post by nyong » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:48 pm

Grytolle wrote:On facebook, lots of people use "jij" (might even be more common than "gij", but I of course haven't seen a very representative selection of facebook profiles), and it's really weird. My guess is that a lot of people (unconsciously?) try to use "better" language than they normally would because a lot of people are always reading over your shoulder there
I got two facebook friends from Gent (one from Oost Vlaanderen, another one from West Vlaanderen). From what I've seen so far they use gij quite a lot.

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