you singular /plural / singular polite
Can anyone tell me if there is there a concept in Irish of using sibh as a polite version of you singular, like the French usage of vous?
I skimmed the section on pronouns in the three Old Irish books i have, but I didn't see any mention of it, so I'm going to say there wasn't, at least in Old Irish. However, something interesting to note is that supposedly a priest required use of sibh, because it was assumed they were carrying the Eucharist, which, being truly Christ, would make there more people. Search the Wikipedia for "T-V distinction for more."
Yes. I understand this was a feature of Classical Irish, preserved in Scottish Gaelic but not in Modern Irish. In my view, the justification quoted from Wikipedia by galaxyrocker is apocryphal. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_Scottish_Gaelic_and_Irish
To translate them into Hiberno-English, tú means you, and sibh means ye (or "y'all" to Americans). You always address one person as tú and more than one person as sibh. There are no polite or informal forms like in other European languages.
A woman from Texas whom I once worked with told me that where she was raised, “y’all” was the singular, and “all y’all” was the plural. People around New York City would recognize “youse” as a plural of “you”. (There are additional regional variants in other US English dialects.)
I'm from the South (not Texas, though), and to me the difference between y'all and all y'all is more on inclusiveness.Y'all doesn't necessarily include the whole group, but all y'all does. The only times I'd say y'all to one person is if I was addressing that one on behalf of the whole, like telling one kid y'all be quiet now in a room full of kids, or telling one family member I'll see y'all soon, to refer to all of them.
Just my dialect, however.