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Vosotros conjugation used for 2nd person singular in novel


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Old August 20, 2022, 07:23 AM
Adalom Adalom is offline
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Vosotros conjugation used for 2nd person singular in novel


I am reading "Las tinieblas y el alba" (originally "The Evening and The Morning") by Ken Follett. Throughout the book, in the dialogue, characters use the vosotros conjugation of verbs and the "os" object pronoun when they are addressing a single person. (I Have marked this in yellow in the attached image.) There are also occasions when "vos" is used but the conjugation is still vosotros. (I've marked and example of this in blue in the image). This is consistent throughout the book. I can't find any explanation for this online. Can anyone explain this?
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Last edited by Rusty; August 20, 2022 at 11:12 AM. Reason: removal of a duplicate image
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Old August 20, 2022, 11:31 AM
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Rusty Rusty is offline
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I did not read any part of the book, in English or in Spanish; I've only looked at the attached image.

Vos is no longer used in Spain, but was in Old Spanish. Its use disappeared in the 17th century. I read that Follett was writing about a time that preceded the decline of vos, so that is most likely the reason it is used in his book.
Using the plural form to address an individual was a form of respect. This form of respectful address may be in use today, but I haven't heard it personally.

There are places online that explain the two usages you are seeing (and one goes on to explain how some Latin American countries make use of voseo, which is not the same as the Old Spanish usage).
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Old August 20, 2022, 09:12 PM
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AngelicaDeAlquezar AngelicaDeAlquezar is offline
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I agree with Rusty.

The "vos" in your example is an archaic formula to show respect when addressing the other person, the way we use "usted" today. It is called "voseo reverencial", and you will only find it in literary texts.

This formula is built by joining the pronoun "vos" (second person in the singular), with the conjugation for "vosotros" (the second person in plural).

- Señora, vos sois muy hermosa. (Ma'am, you are very beautiful.)
- ¿Por qué tenéis vos mis llaves? (Why do you have my keys?)
- ¿Os habéis bebido todo el vino? (Did you drink all the wine?)
- ¿No os parece fascinante, padre Luis? (Don't you find it fascinating, father Luis?
- Vos sois muy amable. (You're very kind.)

And that "vos" is not the same currently used in many regions of Latin America, which is a perfect synonym with "tú" and has its own conjugation. It is complemented with the pronominal particles used for "tú". This is called "voseo dialectal americano".

- María, sos muy hermosa. (Maria, you are very beautiful.)
- ¿Por qué tenés vos mis llaves? (Why do you have my keys?)
- ¿Te habés bebido todo el vino? (Did you drink all the wine?)
- ¿No te parece fascinante, Luis? (Don't you find it fascinating, Luis?)
- Vos sos muy amable. (You're very kind.)
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Old August 21, 2022, 04:29 AM
Adalom Adalom is offline
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Thank you so much to both of you for taking the time to respond - that's very helpful. And thanks for the link! :-)
I'd never come across this before (I guess I've never read a book set in 997 before!).
This archaic formula is so interesting. I learnt something new today!!!

Last edited by Adalom; August 21, 2022 at 04:33 AM.
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