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"We are not amused" Options
Dan Lewis 2222
Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2020 8:58:52 AM

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Joined: 1/9/2020
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Location: Rancho Cucamonga, California, United States
My friend asked:


what do they call it in grammar when one person says we are not amused? Is that talking in the second people?

I think I recall that
Second person is "you..."

And recall seeing the term "collective we" to describe similar usage. But hopefully someone can define it properly. Thanks!
NancyUK
Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2020 9:22:19 AM
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I believe it's called the royal we.

TFD definition

Romany
Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2020 9:36:55 AM
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Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

This is an apocryphal quote from Queen Victoria of England. "Apocryphal" means it's one of those things most people assume are really true but that were never said, or happened, at all.(e.g. Robin Hood is an apocryphal English hero = he never actually existed. "Let them eat cake" is an apocryphal saying from Marie Antoinette = she didn't say it - it was said almost a century before she was born.)

But because it was an English Queen who is supposed to have said it, what is called the "Royal we" is used.

Just as a Business will advertise "We have the best prices." "we" is being used to represent the whole company, even though the Boss might be the only person who believes this. He represents the business so "we" is used

The monarch once ruled by "Divine Right" i.e. God-given right. So it's often explained that "We" refers to a god and a monarch working together. This may have its basis in fact in post-conquest Britain. (Around the 11th Century).

However, subsequent monarchs continued the usage for one of 3 reasons:
a) That no monarchs rule only for themselves but on behalf of the nation.
b) A Monarchs power is not absolute - it is tied to Parliament, thus ""We" represents the entire panoply of Government
c) Monarchs always use "we" - that's how a King or Queen speaks and how we'd know they were a monarch. We (the people) are used to it, so why change?

EDITED TO ADD: Cross-posted with Nancy.

ps. Hey Nancy - so good to see you here once more! Hope 2020 is working for you!
Dan Lewis 2222
Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2020 11:23:32 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 1/9/2020
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Neurons: 28,539
Location: Rancho Cucamonga, California, United States
Thanks! "Royal We", was what my friend (and then I) couldn't think of
tautophile
Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2020 3:05:17 PM
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There's a very funny use of the "royal we" in Michael Flanders's comic monolog from from his and Donald Swann's revue "At the Drop of a Hat", from the late '50s. Flanders tells us that the famous tune "Greensleeves" is supposed to have been composed by King Henry VIII (who was a skilled musician and did compose a number of songs that are still known today, e.g., "Pastime with Good Company"). The king announces himself in the course of the story as "We are Henry the Eighth ... we are". This was a line from the chorus of a British music-hall song from about 1910 that was still known 50 years later; it was revived as a "skiffle" song "I'm Henery [sic] the Eighth, I Am" by the pop group Herman's Hermits (remember them?) in the mid '60s.
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