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  1. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Use of "one" as a person

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by minstrel, May 3, 2017.

    I sometimes do this, but usually for humorous effect. Today I had a double-double burger from In-N-Out Burger and had a conversation that went like this:

    Me: In-N-Out makes good burgers, don't they?
    My friend D: Yeah, but burgers only.
    Me: Meaning?
    D: Their fries are lousy.
    Me: True, but one does not go to In-N-Out for their fries.

    Does anyone else use "one" in this way? It's correct, but is it too quaint? Too British? If a character I wrote talked like that, would he come across as some kind of pompous ass?
     
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  2. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    My friends and I will use overly-formal phrasing for laughs sometimes too. If the character's never come across as pompous before, or you imply their inflection in tags or beats, or their friends react to it as a joke, etc., I don't think it'd be a problem.
     
  3. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Yes, it is British. But - and here's the thing about the English language - there are so many opportunities to see TV that's in English but filmed all over the world, that, save for regional accents, certain phrases are actually crossing over. Here in England, we probably watch more US based TV than UK based TV, even more so with the arrival of Amazon TV and Netflix, et al.

    And then there's the Sean Bean meme from the line "one does not simply walk into Mordor ..."

    How many memes have been made worldwide featuring his picture and the words "one does not ..." Millions. Including the one I myself made along the lines of "one does not simply sit down at a desk and write ..." (or words to that effect).

    That one line which had rested in the annuls of British-ness from the fifties, is probably now used more in other countries that this one. (the UK)
     
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  4. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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  5. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Contributor Contributor

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    I would think that depends more on the time the book is set in and the genre. I write fantasy, and when I have an older or more educated person speaking, it fits right in, IMO. I make sure it works for the character first though, if it's not how they'd typically speak, then it comes off as mocking. I think associating it with british only isn't entirely accurate. I attribute this to more of an age thing than a british one, but that could just be me. I've used it before myself (I'm neither old, nor british), and when I do it is more for slight humour, or to make my point stand out a bit more in a debate. Hard to explain, but I do get more attention to my words if I use it, people are less likely to just keep talking and ignore what I said, but I'm weird like that. I find ways to make people think before they continue rambling. haha
     
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  6. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I will also use it if there is cause for me to want to be sure that the listener doesn't take my use of you as the personal you, rather than the every you and I don't feel like following things up with a tedious caveat of not "Not you-you. Any person."
     
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  7. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well, yes. In most cases he would come across as a tad quaint or pompous—unless he was joking, of course. It's like using the Royal 'We.' "We are not amused."
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2017
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  8. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Now I'm reminded of the much more low-brow "give us a kiss" :D
     
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  9. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That one is a strange plural, isn't it. :)
     
  10. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Contributor Contributor

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    Yes, I have done this as well, very good point. Depending upon the person I'm talking to though, they'll still consider it a "you" instead of an "anyone". They know I meant them in particular, but was trying to be nice about it...some people just can't be tricked so easily. haha
     
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  11. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    LOL :-D Yes, it's definitely not a 100% thing. One's mileage may vary. :whistle: :bigwink:
     
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  12. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Contributor Contributor

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    Instead of the royal "we", would this be the illiterate "us"? :bigcool:
     
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  13. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    I use one here and there. Sometimes just because it is less specific than the alternatives.
     
  14. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, yes! And you're right, it's low-brow. How funny! :geek:
     
  15. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    "Give us a kiss," said illiterate Sid Poorsap.

    "Give we a kiss," said Queen Elizabeth II, employing the royal "we."

    It's crystal clear now! :D
     
  16. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, I use it this way, pretty sure I've used it on the board here that way. I also use it in writing when I'm really, icily pissed off at someone. A.... well, let's not define the relationship too closely, but someone I know was defending a certain sociopolitical viewpoint that I found utterly beyond the pale, and I lapsed into nearly Shakespearian politeness at them, "When one puts it that way, one risks being seen as a bigot beyond redemption."
     
  17. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Finally found a link. From about 1:50, the "Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?" has a similar formality:

     
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  18. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Sums up my thoughts.

    I'm not sure it's "British" so much as "used in the past by a very specific type of British person". The upper classes may still use it, and perhaps some older upper-middle class people (or Hyacinth Bucket types) but not 99% of the British population.
     
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  19. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, Hyacinth Bookay came to mind as I was writing my response. And Margo in The Good Life as well. I've never heard it actually said in a real conversation unless there was a smidgen of satire in the remark.
     
  20. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    Not really; there are two characters in each group, thus the first person plural is appropriate.

    It's typically a Geordie construction.

    To the OP...

    Prince Charles snorted, and said. "One is not amused."
     
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  21. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    One laughs, because one finds Prince Charles snorting rather amusing, does not one? ;)
     
  22. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    In fact, I think Prince Charles (as the direct heir to the throne) is entitled to use the Royal We : "We are not amused," meaning he doesn't find it funny.
    I don't know how far down the Royals list they have to be to use the 'we' in place of 'I' but I suspect he's entitled. (I don't think he does use it, but he could.)

    However, former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was NOT entitled to use the Royal We. (In place of the overly pompous 'one' or simply 'I' like the rest of us.) However, that didn't stop her.
    http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/401700.html
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2017
  23. NoGoodNobu

    NoGoodNobu Contributor Contributor

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    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I always thought the Royal We was employed only by the reigning sovereign because they spoke not solely on their behalf but of their entire nation-state

    I always understood it (I'm American, so I very likely can be hopeless confused) as the king or queen speaking authoritatively for their entire kingdom when using the Royal We—and only the reigning monarch is allowed the use of it as they alone represent their country & people

    How horribly off track am I?


    Also, I often used "one" instead of the plural you.
     
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  24. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You may well be right. I'll go look it up.

    Here's the relevant bit from the Wikipedia article on the Royal We:


    Western usage
    It is commonly employed by a person of high office, such as a monarch, earl, or pope. It is also used in certain formal contexts by bishops and university rectors. William Longchamp is credited with its introduction to England in the late 12th century, following the practice of the Chancery of Apostolic Briefs.[2]

    In the public situations in which it is used, the monarch or other dignitary is typically speaking not only in his or her personal capacity but also in an official capacity as leader of a nation or institution. In the grammar of several languages, plural forms tend to be perceived as deferential and more polite than singular forms. This grammatical feature is common in languages that have the T-V distinction, including those such as English, which used to have a T-V distinction in the past, but lost it.

    In diplomatic letters, such as letters of credence, it is customary for monarchs to use the singular first-person when writing to other monarchs, but the majestic plural is used in royal letters to a president of a republic.[3]

    In Commonwealth Realms, the Sovereign discharges his/her commissions to ranked officers in the capacity of We.

    ....................

    I can't find any particular reference to Prince Charles in this context anywhere. It's a bit nebulous, really. The Queen apparently doesn't use it much at all, and occasionally makes a joke about it. But if an Earl can use it, I don't know why the Prince of Wales couldn't? Dunno. At any rate, when it comes to monarchs, it's apparently not all that formalised an expression.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2017
  25. Jupie

    Jupie Senior Member

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    This is something I have always avoided. But I do keep threatening to refer to myself in the third person, or create a character who does, that would be most amusing, oh yes indeed.
     

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