Today I would love to talk about the use between you and thee, but I will just consider the Italian, Spanish and Norwegian use of them because these are the countries where I have more experience from:
In Italy it is very formal and still in use the form thee or lei (as we say) and we use it especially with people we don’t know, authorities or high-level professions (such as lawyers, professors, etc.), meantime and for the rest of the other categories of people we usually use the you form (friends, family and acquaintances). Considering these two forms of reaching out to people, we can immediately notice some sort of distance between the two ways we choose to use. For example if I talk to a lawyer using lei form, we emphasize (in a way) a distance between importance of whichever role both have and the type of contact/formality we put in evidence and being far under a humanitarian point of view. This is my point of view after eight years in Norway. Was I clear enough?
In Spain it’s the same thing, even if thee in Spanish is usted but I had the possibility to use you with for example my professors at the University of Seville, where I felt at home, welcomed. Maybe here we can notice a less distance between the parts which are having a conversation and there is a more fraternal point of view? (My opinion after seven years in Spain). As I said in my personal experience it was ok to use that form. But there are still some professors of the old mold who want to hear usted.
In Norway you /du is always used no matter who you are. Thee/de is a very old form which they don’t use anymore. Do you know what? I love it! Why? Because we are all the same and we need humanity. Sometimes it is more important the way you act and the choice of good and appropriate words to show respect, while speaking with someone you don’t know whether using thee. With words you can always keep a distance, also helped by the context and the tone or expression you use saying something.
What do you think about it?
I would love to read your opinions.