Source: Robert McCrum, William Cran, and Robert MacNeil, The Story of English (New York: Viking, 1986). The transcript of this debate is in Hansard (21 NOV 1979), Vol. 403, cc. 156-96, on Hansard at http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/lords/1979/nov/21/the-english-language-deterioration-in-1 [accessed 10 APR 2012].
Carelessness in communication is evidenced in other ways. I am unsure if other languages have exhibited similar degeneration, and thus have no basis for assuming that it is predictable or inevitable. However, it leaves me wondering if the ascendancy of nihilistic linguistic theory lies behind this degeneration at least in the English language. This would manifest itself by provoking despair in accurate communication, and the consequent demise of precision in vocabulary, grammar and syntax.
Whatever the cause, the effect is that modern English has no viable alternative to the 17th century's ability to distinguish the second person personal prounouns with "thou, thee, thy", and "you, ye, your". As a result of this loss of precision in all modern English translations I have advised many who do not have facility in the Greek New Testament to consult the KJV in their studies for accuracy with the number and case of personal pronouns. See Brian Tegart's helpful article, "The KJV's Archaic Language Pros and Cons" on The KJV-Only Issue at http://www.kjv-only.com/theethou.html [accessed 10 APR 2012]. By the way, do not be alarmed by the name of his web site! Brian is certainly anything but "KJV-Only", as you will soon detect as you read this article!
Note: I had previously credited this article and web site to Doug Kutilek, but received information concerning the correct author in an email from Doug 12 APR 2012. Doug's web site is The King James Only Resource Center at http://www.kjvonly.org [accessed 12 APR 2012], and is recommended as a similarly helpful site on this issue. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused in the interim.
My favorite example is the interplay between the singulars and the plurals in the following passages found in Paul's epistles to the Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 - 16 Know ye [pl.] not that ye [pl.] are the temple [sing.] of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you [pl.]? 17 If any man [sing.] defile the temple [sing.] of God, him [sing.] shall God destroy; for the temple [sing.] of God is holy, which temple [sing.] ye [pl.] are.
1 Corinthians 6:13-20 - 13 Now the body [sing.] is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body [sing.]. 14 And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us [pl.] by his own power. 15 Know ye [pl.] not that your bodies [pl.] are the members [pl.] of Christ? shall I then take the members [pl.] of Christ, and make them the members [pl.] of an harlot? God forbid. 16 What? know ye [pl.] not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body [sing.]? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man [sing.] doeth is without the body [sing.]; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body [sing.]. 19 What? know ye [pl.] not that your [pl.] body [sing.] is the temple [sing.] of the Holy Ghost which is in you [pl.], which ye [pl.] have of God, and ye [pl.] are not your [pl.] own? 20 For ye [pl.] are bought with a price [sing.]: therefore glorify God in your [pl.] body [sing.], and in your [pl.] spirit [sing.], which are God's.
2 Corinthians 6:16 - And what agreement hath the temple [sing.] of God with idols? for ye [pl.] are the temple [sing.] of the living God; as God hath said , I will dwell in them [pl.], and walk in them [pl.]; and I will be their [pl.] God, and they [pl.] shall be my people [sing.].Another alternative was employed by William Hendriksen, who addresses this issue in his New Testament Commentary series published by Baker. He does so by placing spaces between the letters of the second person plural pronoun:
"Please Note In order to differentiate between the second person plural (see Luke 12:57: "Why do y o u not judge...?") and the second person singular (the next verse: "...when you are going"), the letters in "y o u pl." are spaced, those in "you sing." are not."Source: William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978), pg. xiii.
Note: This constructive alternative utilized by Hendriksen helps with the issue of number (singular versus plural), but does nothing for the loss of distinction of the case (nominative/subjective versus genitive/objective), which is understood to be of lesser concern.
The example Hendriksen cites in his commentary on Matthew is 26:64 where the differentiation of the second person singular pronoun from the second person plural pronoun is noted. Other examples are cited where this note is found in some of his other commentaries (but not all). It appears that Simon Kistemaker did not continue this practice when he continued the series following Hendriksen's death as, for example, no such note is found at the beginning of his volume on Hebrews. However, Logos includes a note on this set of commentaries on their web site:
"Please Note: In order to differentiate between the second person singular and the second person plural, the publisher indicated the former as follows: “you”; and the latter as follows: “y o u.” The digital edition follows this innovation."Source: Logos at http://www.logos.com/product/4233/bakers-new-testament-commentary [accessed 10 APR 2012].
Sola Scriptura, Soli Deo Gloria,
John T. Jeffery
Pastor, Wayside Gospel Chapel
10 APR 2012
One Good Reason To Study the King James Version
by John T. Jeffery
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