A few closing remarks

Instead of a conclusion I want to point out some interesting aspects and ideas which I came across while researching the use of "thou" and "you" in different contexts and periods.

When you compare the T-V-Distinction in French or German to the one in Early Modern English, you find an important differece: In German or French you usually do not switch back to the formal pronoun (V) when you have once exchanged the mutual T which stands for familiarity. As "thou" was not only used to address familiars but also to express emotions, it was possible to switch back to "you", for example when a fierce argument was over (cf. Brown and Gilman, "Politeness Theory", 178).

Usually people say that one of the advantages of the English language is its straightforwardness, for example because there is only one pronoun of address for the 2nd pers. sing. In contrast to other European languages, you do not have to decide if you use the T- or the V-pronoun. It seems that in English-speaking countries, all people are familiar to each other, because everybody is addressed with "you". After having dealt with the development of "you" we know that this was in fact the formal pronoun. This is why in English, everybody is actually addressed in a formal way. Nevertheless, in everyday usage, nobody thinks about the origin of "you" and when you really think about it, it does not really matter which pronoun is used as the only pronoun of address for the 2nd pers. sing. From my point of view, it still renders communication easier.

Another interesting point is that sometimes, "thou" is still used, not only in church, but for example also in lyrics. This usage of "thou" does however not resemble the one of the Early Modern English Period; the intention seems to be the creation of an ancient atmosphere.

Finally one can ask if the trend to use only one pronoun of address, irrespective of the relationship between to people, will appear in other languages, too. In German, you can already observe this development in discussion forums or chatrooms in the internet.