I love thou… but only when used correctly



Image of sign that says “thou shalt not park”

Brianne Leber, Chief Editor

This Halloween I watched my childhood favorite, “Hocus Pocus,” and I was terrified, but not because the witches were scary. The real horror is that I can’t count the times they incorrectly used the word thou. This makes me sound like a hater. I’m not. I love “Hocus Pocus,” but I also love the word thou.

It is understandable why the Sanderson sisters use thou. It sounds old, works with their rhyme, and helps the audience remember that they are witches from the past. I, however, am still bitter that thou has made so much of an impression on my life that I can’t enjoy “Hocus Pocus.”

Thou is simply the informal version of you. You versus thou is similar to usted (formal you) and tĂș (informal you/thou) in Spanish. Thou would be used with immediate family, friends, partners, and children. You is used for distant relatives, elders, and people who you would give respect. This is also used for acquaintances.

My copies of No Fear Shakespeare (Brianne Leber)

The reason I am so picky about this is because of how telling this difference can be when discussing literature from periods where thou was still in use. It is a sign of familiarity. If Hamlet goes from calling a character you to thou, that is incredibly important to the understanding of this relationship. The witches from “Hocus Pocus” call everyone thou, when it is much more accurate to only call each other thou and everyone else you.

My sister, Caitlyn, and I were discussing my bitterness towards “Hocus Pocus” and she laughed and said she “has no opinion on this”.

After talking a little more, Caitlyn told me that she has “been watching a lot of Downton Abbey and just the way people talked a hundred years ago is so different from the way we talk now.” She continued by explain how “you hear people speak so eloquently and it makes me wonder how people who speak other languages hear our language. There are even different variations of English.”

My friend Hazel Lloyd made fun of me. She says “while we were watching “Hocus Pocus” Brianne kept interrupting to be mad at the witches. I think this is very on brand for her to be mad about this.” She then told me, “it was a very informative Halloween night.” I take this as a compliment.

Listen, is this article just a rant thinly veiled in interviews and journalistic language? Maybe so. But I sure feel a lot less bitter now.