A few years ago I met a Quaker man from Atlanta at a historical event, who said something like, "Thee is well?" I thought he was just being quaint and had no idea about grammar. Since then, I've heard other people use "Thee is" - which is grammatically like saying "Me am going to the store." I've heard it in movies, and I just read a historian who wrote that thee replaced thou in America by the end of the 18th century.
But it didn't, in my part of the Quaker world.
In my and my parents' generation, we have used "you" in everyday conversation. I didn't realize until I grew up and moved away, and someone asked me to say the blessing before a meal, that we still used "thou" in all of our prayers. Daily prayers, Sunday morning prayers and the prevalence of the King James Bible were enough for us to absorb the correct grammar, including "thou art." It's not just my family. Last year a Quaker friend of mine from another N.C. county used thou and thee for a full 10 minutes of conversation, just for fun.
So, I'm confused. Even non-Quakers know "Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not ..." etc. Why would a group of people who read the King James Bible - like everybody else until the late 20th century - throw out both biblical and secular grammar and make up their own? Is it regional? Are we in Piedmont North Carolina the only Quakers who kept correct grammar? Or is it just a myth, a bad stereotype, that anybody uses "thee is"?
I'd really like to hear from people who grew up with thee or thou, even if you heard it from your grandparents or an old pastor or neighbor. Please include the region where you lived.
Note: "Thee" is correct as an object, just like "me." If people speak correct grammar, you'll hear both thou (a subject, like I) and thee (object, like me). The incorrect grammar is to use thee for every use.