I have read a different origin story for the Knights Who Say “Ni!” than the one in Wikipedia. Apparently, one of the Python team came across an old textbook for learning Swedish in a hotel he was staying at, which described the use of the plural “ni” as a polite singular, similarly to the practice of several other European languages.
But Swedish added an extra, strange twist. You could never actually use “ni”, because if you were speaking to someone to whom “ni” would be polite, it would not be polite enough. The proper way to address them would be in the third person, as in “would the vicar care for another cup of tea?” And an old woman of whom you knew nothing might be respectfully addressed as “mør” (“mother”).
Things have come to a pretty pass when knights can roam the countryside saying “ni!” to defenceless old women.
Perhaps one of the Swedes here can say whether this is true?
Hehe. :) I never heard about it. Here is something I found when googling:
“The Knights who say Ni are rumoured to be connected to the mock subtitles in the opening credits which advertise Sweden. In the Swedish language, “Ni” is second person plural (the equivalence of the English plural “you”) and used to be the proper form for adressing people outisde your circle of family and friends. This was however abandoned during the late 1960-ies/early 1970-ies in the so-called “du-reform” (“du” being the second person singular form). According to the rumor, the joke with the knights saying “Ni” and people’s negative reaction to it is a mockery of how the “ni” form was rejected by almost all Swedes, and thus no longer acceptable. Over the years the Pythons have gone back and forth between denying that the rumour is true, and confirming that it is indeed true.”
Here is another source.