"Y'all" redux

Wilson Gray wilson.gray at RCN.COM
Sat Feb 19 20:45:08 UTC 2005

In an earlier discussion as to whether Southern-English speakers could,
would, or did use "y'all" as a singular, a white Mississippian, who
posted directly to me instead of to the list, and I, a black East
Texan, maintained that "y'all" is always plural. Many others didn't
agree and suggested that I might want to read what David Crystal, in
his "The Stories of English," has to say about his experience of the
use of "y'all" in Fort Worth, Texas, that experience being that "y'all"
*is* used as a singular.

In Texas, we say that the West begins at Fort Worth. So, I suggested
that perhaps there's or some kind of dialect split between East Texas
and Fort Worth.

I have now read what Prof. Crystal has to say. Since I've never been
farther west in Texas than Longview, I accept Prof. Crystal's
description of the use of "y'all" in a representative metropolitan area
in West Texas.. However, He also provides a dialect map that shows that
East Texas, like Mississippi, falls into the region of Southern
English, whereas Fort Worth is located in the region of Western

So, concerning the "y'all" question, the answer appears to be that it
depends on where you are and/or whether your informant is back or

-Wilson Gray

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