7 MARCH 1992, Page 24

Second person singular

Sir: I was interested to read your Diary of 15 February. I too saw the French version of Elizabeth R and found it accurately dubbed (the English original being audible throughout). The Queen's words to Mon- sieur Mitterrand were not changed, although it is untrue that French monarchs never used anything but the second person singular. It is indeed a recorded fact that Louis XIV so disliked this familiarity that he would not allow its use in his presence, even between brothers. Until recent times,

the `vous' form was almost without excep- tion the only usage found in good society. There are still French-speakers who use it when addressing their grown-up children.

Charles Kingsley-Evans

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