There are also languages where “you” also depends on the listener's gender and their numbers.

Video This simple English word is also one of the most difficult to translateScreenshot: TED-Ed/YouTube
Social Language Thursday, September 08, 2016 - 15:35

The English word “you” is possibly one of the hardest words to translate to other languages, explains a video by TED-Ed.

Krystian Aparta, a translator, describes the reasons as to why translating “you” can be difficult in different languages. 

"As simple as it seems it’s often impossible to accurately translate ‘you’, without knowing a lot more about the situation where it’s being said,” he states.

Translation would depend on how familiar is the person you are speaking to and how formal are you with him/her. Is it a friend, someone younger to you, or perhaps your boss?

The "you" used to refer to a person will vary in different cultures and languages.

"In many languages the pronoun reflects these differences through what’s known as the ‘TV’ distinction,” Aparta says. 

Citing an example in French, he says a person will use ‘tu’ to refer to a friend, but ‘vous’ while speaking to a senior person like a teacher.

Even English, he adds, once had something similar. The word "thou" was used as an informal pronoun, whereas "you" was meant for "formal" use.

There are also languages where “you” also depends on the listener's gender and their numbers.

Watch the full video to know more: 

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