Man on!

Alice Faber faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU
Thu May 31 02:27:34 UTC 2001

Frank R Abate said:
>As for "guys", it seems to me a very common informal way to refer to or
>call to a group of men/boys, women/girls, or mixed.  Just today I was
>asking a group of middle-school softball players, all girls, to move back
>from the baseball playing area (they were watching the boys play baseball,
>having finished their game), and felt it best to call them "guys" as
>opposed to "girls" or "ladies", either of which might be taken badly,
>despite their age.  It's a sensitive world out there.

In the New York suburbs where I grew up, gender-neutral "guys", more
specifically "you guys", was common but not universal, in the late 1960s.
There was enough dialect variation in the area that recess discussions of
whether it was OK to address an all female group as "you guys" (or whether
it was grossly offensive) were as common as arguments about "pop" vs "soda"
and mockery of echt-NYC pronunciations of "coffee" and "chocolate".
Alice Faber                                       tel. (203) 865-6163
Haskins Laboratories                              fax  (203) 865-8963
270 Crown St                                   faber at
New Haven, CT 06511                               afaber at

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