[lit-ideas] "She" (Was: "Her")

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 7 May 2004 23:40:20 EDT

We are considering the use of objective forms in nominative use:

       (1) Me and my sister went to the cinema yesterday.

       (2) Her picked berries in the woods.  So did him pick berries in the 
woods too?

J. M. Geary replies:

>No.  Heo picked the berries in the woods and gave 
>them to hir (hire, her, here). 'Heo' is the word for "she", 
>it was not used for the word "he", except by
>some very liberated and ahead of their time Saxons.  

Exactly. It was changed from 'heo' to 'she' because 'heo' sounded TOO MUCH 
like 'he' (to the Normans, etc.), whereas 'she' does not sound so much as 'he' 
(as 'heo' does), etc. This is all phonology, phonetics, etc.

Interestingly, the OED has an entry for 'heo', a rather boring one, if you 
ask me, but could be worse, I guess. (And I say "interestingly" because the OED 
was the former NED, New English Dictionary, as opposed to the Old English 
Dictionary, and the Middle English Dictionary). The reason why 'heo' is kept is 
that it is maintained as modern dialectal "hoo" in Sussex, England. 

More below.



From the OED


dial. hoo, pers. pron., 3rd sing. fem., nom. Obsolete except dialectal. 
From the OE. híu, hío, héo, fem. of HE; 
Cognate with OFris. hiu. In Goth., OS., and OHG., the fem. of the parallel 
pronominal stem i-s, i-r, was lost and supplied by a form sî, siu, Ger. sie. A 
like substitution took place later in Fris. and Eng.; in the latter, the 
northern and e. midl. dialects about the 12th c. exchanged hio, heo, hyo, ho, 
he for 
the forms, northern sco, scho, sho, e. midl. scæ, se, sche, SHE. 
But heo in various forms survived in the south and w. midl. as a literary 
word till the 15th c., and is still vernacular from Lancashire to Devon and 
Sussex, under the forms hoo, hh (the latter often mistaken for the objective 
h, .]  
The original feminine pronoun corresponding to he; the place of which is now 
taken by SHE. Used of women, and of animals or things grammatically feminine. 
() 1 híu, híuu, hío, héo, 2 hio, 2-5 heo, 2 hyo; 2-3 ho, 3 eo, o, oe. 

855 O.E. Chron. (Parker MS.) an. 718 Hio wæs forgifen Noran hymbra cyninge. 
c910 Ibid. an. 910 Heo eherade swie micel on æm nor here. c950 Lindisf. Gosp. 
Matt. xv. 27 So hiu cwe [c975 Rushw. G., & hiu cwe; c1000 Ags. G., a cwæ heo; 
c1160 Hatton G., a cwæ hyo]. c950  Mark x. 6 Hee and hiuu. c975 Rushw. Gosp. 
Matt. ix. 24 Hio slepe [Ags. G., heo slæp; Hatton G., hyo slæp]. c1175 Lamb. 
Hom. 111 Heo hi werna wi drunkenesse. c1205 LAY. 182 He wes king and heo quen. 
c1300 Beket 24 The Princes heir heo was. c1330 King of Tars 76 To god heo made 
hire preyers. 1362 LANGL. P. Pl. A. II. 5 â??Loke on e lufthondâ??, quod heo. 
c1450 MYRC 396 That heo a-vow no maner ynge.
1200 ORMIN 2037 e laffdi Mare ho barr child Wiutenn weddedd macche. c1275 
LAY. 1149 eo was cwene [c1205 heo wes quen] of alle wodes. 1297 R. GLOUC. 
436 oe was wory to be ycluped, Mold e god quene Vor al e godenesse, at oe dude 
her to Engelond. a1300 Fall & Passion 81 in E.E.P. (1862) 15 Al hir ioi was 
ago, o o him sei dei in rode..at del, neuer such nas er none..as ho makid an 
seint Jon.
() 1 híæ, 1 híe, 2-3 hie, 3-4 he, e, hye. 
975 Rushw. Gosp. Matt. xv. 23 Forlet hiæ foron e hiæ cæe æfter us. a1000 
Cædmon's Gen. 822 a spræc Eue eft, idesa scienost, wifa wliteost, hie wæs 
godes. c1200 Trin. Coll. Hom. 161 Hie is e heuenliches kinges dohter. c1250 
Gen. & Ex. 2626 he kepte it wel in fostre wune, he knew it for hire owen sune. 
c1250 Old Kent Serm. in O.E. Misc. 29 Hye spac to o serganz et seruede of o 
wyne. a1275 Prov. Ã?lfred 292 Ibid. 121 Swo hie ne ochte. a1300 Fall & Passion 
in E.E.P. (1862) 15 For to wep e nad no mo bot iiii bitter teris of blode. 
c1325 Lai le Freine 114 That hye nil, no hye ne schal. c1330 Florice & Bl. 
572 he said anon right he had i-waked al this night.
() 1 hí, 2-4 hi, 4-5 hy. 
1000 Crist 559 in Exeter Bk., Hafa nu se hala helle bireafod ealles æs 
gafoles e hi ear-daum..unryhte sweal. a1175 Cott. Hom. 223 Hi is ælra libbinde 
moder. Ibid. 227 Hi..war mid cylde. a1250 Owl & Night. 32 Me hi halt lolich and 
fule. 1340 Ayenb. 26 eruore is hy doter of prede. Ibid. 28 Hi ys contrarious to 
holy goste. c1460 Launfal 352 Sche badd hym aryse anoon; Hy seyde to hym, Syr 
gantyl knyght.
() 2-5 he, 4 hey, 5 hee. 
1175 Lamb. Hom. 103 a oer sunne [is] forliger..et is ihaten fornicatio. He 
bule ene mon. c1200 Trin. Coll. Hom. 159 Luste nu wich maiden..and hwat he 
hatte, and hware he was fet. a1300 St. Michael 203 in Treat. Science, etc. 
136 The sonne..sent a-doun hire hete..and of fersch water he draweth up the 
breth. c1380 WYCLIF Sel. Wks. III. 413 Crist askid o womman watir to drinke, 
itte he was an alien, for he was a Samaritan. a1400 Pol. Rel. & L. Poems 229 
Hey endetz shameliche Hey drawe dredfulliche. c1420 Chron. Vilod. 1119 And 
thongede hurr' heyelyche..at hee had delyveryd hym. a1450 Le Morte Arth. 584 
Ther-for he dude on a Russet cote..And made heore self o a Nonne.
() 3-4 ha, a. 
1205 LAY. 28219 a wile a [the queen] beo aliue. a1225 Leg. Kath. 136 us hwil 
ha [v.r. a] wiste hire. 1387 TREVISA MS. Cott. Vesp. D. vii. 29b, He..prayede 
hys wyf at hue wolde helpe..bote a dude e contrary.
() 2-5 ho, 3-5 hoe. 
1175 Lamb Hom. 77 e sunne streon e lome et ho spret in to al is wide worlde. 
c1205 LAY. 42 He hoe [boc] ef are æelen �lienor. 1297 R. GLOUC. (1724) 13 Ho 
wende from al hire kyn. 13.. Gaw. & Gr. Knt. 1001 e olde auncian wyf heest ho 
syttez. c1420 Sir Amadace (Camden) lxvi, Ho kissutte hur lord. c1420 Chron. 
Vilod. 376 In yche werk t hoe wrout.
() 4-5 hue. 
1307 Elegy Edw. I, iv, Ich biquethe myn herte aryht..Over the see that hue be 
diht. 1340-70 Alex. & Dind. 562 While hue liuede alse. 1393 LANGL. P. Pl. C. 
II. 10 Ich was aferd of hure face, thauh hue faire were.
() 5-9 hoo. 
1440 Sir Degrev. 686 Natheles hoo was wel paid. 1674 RAY N.C. Words 26 Hoo, 
he, in the Northwest parts of England most frequently used for she. c1815 
Lancash. Ballads & Songs 169 Hoo says hoo can tell when hoo's hurt. 1867 E. 
Owd Blanket 72 Th' mistress said hoo thought hoo'd suit 'em.
b. Opposed to he: female, feminine. 
950-1000: see HE 7. 13.. E.E. Allit. P. B. 337 Ay ou meng with e malez e mete 


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