"thanks Joe" versus "thank you"

Guest   Sun Aug 12, 2007 1:16 am GMT
We say "thanks Joe!" rather than *"thank Joe!" etc. So why do we say "thank you!"? Wouldn't "thanks you!" make more sense?
Uriel   Sun Aug 12, 2007 1:24 am GMT

Look at those two phrases as being short forms of "My thanks, Joe", and "I thank you" -- in one, thanks in a noun, and in the other, thank is a verb.

Keeping the comma in its proper place in "thanks, Joe" gives us a bit of a hint.
furrykef   Sun Aug 12, 2007 2:05 pm GMT
When we say "Thanks, Joe!", the word "Joe" is vocative -- it is used as a direct form of address. But when we say "Thank you", the word "you" is the object of the verb "thank". As Uriel suggests, I think it comes from "I thank you", and for some reason the "I" got omitted when it became a fixed expression.

One generally doesn't use "you" vocatively... it's generally rude. A common exception is "Hey, you!", used to get the attention of somebody whose name you don't know. But that can also be rude depending on the tone of voice.

- Kef