Fwd: more for y'all

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Sun May 27 20:43:45 UTC 2001

My Alabama-born/Tennessee-raised grad student (mentioned earlier) has been
surveying her family and friends on y'all/y'all's/y'alls's (she's spelled
the last variant better than I had--but then, it's not really a written
usage, or is it?).  Thought you'd enjoy her father's memories (names
deleted); it almost reads like oral history!

>Date: Fri, 25 May 2001 18:59:52 -0400
>From: Connie Flood <cf381200 at ohiou.edu>
>X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.7 [en]C-CCK-MCD EBM-Compaq1  (Win98; U)
>X-Accept-Language: en
>To: flanigan at oak.cats.ohiou.edu
>Subject: more for y'all
>A fabulous explanation from my father.  He's really getting into this.
>Seems he's just discovered Paul Lawrence Dunbar, too. :)

>Subject: Re: y'all
>I would use all except y'alls's.  Think I have heard it used a good bit by
>some of Granddaddy's black customers when I worked in the store.  If I used
>that permutation, it would be when I wanted to be sure the listener knew I
>was speaking southern.  Most likely with a non-southerner who was already
>having some difficulty understanding me and I wanted to further expose
>their lack of knowledge of how one should talk. ...  Y'all is more casual
>and you all is more formal.  So I
>probably use you all when I want to be perceived as using "proper" speech.
>Let folk know that I'm edjicated don't you know.  Your all and your all's
>would be rare for me.  R. said this morning that he uses both of
>those.  But remember M. said that he was Black Belt and she was
>Wiregrass.  And I'm piney woods Florida Cracker.  My Sunday School class is
>having a pot-luck tonight so we're taking your email with us and will
>conduct a poll among the natives.  Will let you know what we find out.
>I'm sure your prof knows this [!], but the language you use depends heavily
>upon who you are talking to and how serious the conversation is.  Is it
>family, family and close friends, not-so-close friends, people you know,
>strangers but natives, foreigners like those folk north of Georgia or
>Alabama, educated folk or common folk, your race or another race, etc.?
>Your Uncle F. grew up talking with black kids and adults every day in
>the store.  The year he taught at Peck High School (the black high school
>for Fernandina and Yulee) he was totally lost until he learned the language.
>R. ... brought me a book written
>from some notes a lady took of interviews she had with several blacks in
>Sumpter county in the 20's and 30's.  Some of her work was supported by the
>WPA.  A Livingston faculty member took her boxes of notes and is in the
>process of putting them in book form.  The lady wrote her notes in a way to
>try to reproduce the language as it was spoken.  Livingston University
>Press published the book.  I've read the first chapter which is a
>collection of folk tales.  I think that you would like to read it.  I think
>that you could understand what is being said.  Your prof might have some
>difficulty [?!].  I remembered last night that I had taken a book titled Poems
>of Cabin and Field from my grandmother's house after she died.  Got it out
>a while ago to see what it was like.  It was written in 1890's by a black
>man named Dunbar.  He tries to reproduce black dialect also.  I read a
>couple of the poems just now.  Think you would enjoy it also.
>Mom says it's time to go.  Will give you a follow up on tonight.
. . .

We just got back from the supper. Mom asked all the southerners, which was
most of the crowd, your questions. About 32 of us there and all but
half-dozen or so from the south. Everyone uses y'all. A minority use
y'all's. A few don't use you all. None used your all or your all's ....
Those from the mountains of North Alabama and N.C.
use you'ns or we'uns. I remember D. S. used that a lot and he
was from N.A. hills. A. C. E. mentioned using your'n and I remember
hearing that growing up as well as our'n. Maybe more old blacks doing

>At 12:39 AM 5/25/01 -0400, you wrote:
> >Okay, my southern friends and relations.  My sociolinguistics prof is
> >embroiled in a heated e-mail debate over the various uses and
> >permutations of "y'all."  So tell me whether you (or people down home)
> >would/wouldn't use these:
> >
> >y'all
> >y'all's (as in, "Is that y'all's car?" or "Is that car y'all's?")
> >y'alls's (as in, "Is that y'alls's car?" or "Is that car y'alls's?")
> >you all
> >your all (possessive)
> >your all's (possessive)
> >
> >Connie

Beverly Olson Flanigan         Department of Linguistics
Ohio University                     Athens, OH  45701
Ph.: (740) 593-4568              Fax: (740) 593-2967

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