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The royal we

[ 2009-05-25 16:06]     字号 [] [] []  
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The royal we

Nancy Matos

Reader Question: the royal we

“And who is the royal we?” Could you explain what the “royal we” refers to here?

My comments: The “Royal we” (also known as “Pluralis majestatis” [“majestic plural"]) when used is actually not referring to a group of people but only one person. It is a plural pronoun commonly used by royalty or a sovereign when addressing others.

A famous line using the royal we was uttered by Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom: “We are not amused.” There is some speculation that Queen Victoria was in fact speaking on behalf of the ladies of the court, not just herself. But the fact remains that the quote is widely used to describe the royal we usage in the first person.

If you hear British people speak or watch British television/movies, you will also encounter the use of the word “us” when referring to only one person. If someone ever says to you, “Give us a ring”, they are asking for you and only you to call them on the phone later. Some people get confused with this form of English, also known as the “Queen’s English”, and may ask “Who is ‘us’?” And if someone ever says to you, “Give us a kiss”, don’t worry. You aren’t being asked to kiss a whole group of people—just the person making the request.


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About the author:

Nancy Matos is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Nancy is a graduate of the Broadcast Journalism and Media program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Her journalism career in broadcast and print has taken her around the world from New York to Portugal and now Beijing. Nancy is happy to make the move to China and join the China Daily team.