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WE ?

A politician rose to the podium and said,  “great work,   WE  did it, WE flattened the curve”,  as in the Covid-19 infections peaks and troughs.   He was looking at me but did he mean me and him, or me, you and him?   Of whom do we speak when we say WE in that context?


WE is a first person pronoun.

WE is the plural of I in the nominative case.

I, WE, myself  are pronouns that stand for the person speaking.


The royal we:  I have heard sarcastic remarks about the royal we (pluralis majestatis).   The plural pronoun is used in reference to a single person – the monarch.   In the 12th century rulers used WE to refer to themselves and God, meaning “God and I”.   The first part of the Queen’s title refers to her as:  “Elizabeth 2nd by the grace of God”.   The royal we invoked the divine right of Kings.   Now it is understood to include the Queen and the State.


Use in reference to a Bishop or the Pope, WE  may be a similar inheritance.


Those rulers used WE to connect themselves to God.   On the other hand, Donald Trump used the pronoun “I” and tried to connect God to himself.   Mr Trump saw himself as “The King of Israel” and said “I am the chosen one”   This was after moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and Netanyahu treated him like a King and someone said Trump was the only one would do a thing like that.  ‘ Ramat Trump’  (Trump Heights) is a planned Israeli settlement in Israeli-occupied Golan Heights named in his honour in a PR exercise.


Nosism,  a word I came across is from Latin ‘nos’ we.   This is the practice of using the pronoun WE to refer to oneself when expressing a personal opinion.


The editorial we phenomenon is when an editorial columnist refers to her/himself as WE when giving their opinion.


The author’s we  (pluralis modestiae) often refers to the reader and author.   But in scientific literature WE often has the sense of a third person instead of one or you.   (By adding that 4 + 5 we get 9).


The patronising we is sometimes used by people talking to children or the elderly.   “Aren’t WE looking cute”.   “How are WE feeling today?”


An inclusive we  is where the addressees are  included in the reference.   It probably means you and I and possibly others.


An exclusive we  refers to the speaker and their associates, not the person(s) addressed.


Understanding the speaker’s profile is crucial to understanding the context of their use of WE.


Kidding aside, when the Taoiseach  addresses the  nation I hope the WE is inclusive of all men, women, children, all ages, all qualities of health, wealth, education, occupations, industries, beliefs, households, types of families, married, single, wherever they live, whatever their living accommodation, travellers, settled, non-Irish nationalities living in Ireland, speakers of all languages, all God’s children.


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