"Y'all" redux

Wilson Gray wilson.gray at RCN.COM
Sun Feb 20 21:01:30 UTC 2005

Sigh! Where is your spell-checker when you need it? Yes, I meant
"black" and not "back." If I read Crystal aright, part of his claim is
that blacks in Fort Worth are more likely to restrict the use of
"y'all" to the plural than whites are. However, my own personal
experience is that don't *no* real Southern (in the earlier hoo-raw
about "y'all," someone noted that I failed to define "Southern.")
speaker be using no "y'all" as no singular, irregardless of accidentals
like race.

Practically ever since I learned to speak and read, I've heard it
claimed and read it claimed that Southern speakers simply replace
Northern "you" with Southern "you-all" and/or "y'all." To quote Richard
Pryor, as is my wont, "Unreal. And I ain't going for it."

-Wilson Gray

On Feb 20, 2005, at 1:35 PM, J. Eulenberg wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "J. Eulenberg" <eulenbrg at U.WASHINGTON.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "Y'all" redux
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --------
> I'm from Dallas, which I guess (Dallas being east of Ft. Worth)
> makes me a Southern English speaker.  I can assure you that I never
> used
> ya'll or you'all singularly, and I was quite put out at 14 when I
> visited
> Northern cousins who teased me by using it singularly!  If I read
> Wilson's
> last line correctly, he meant "whether your informant is black or
> white."
> For what it's worth, in this case, I'm white.
> Julia Niebuhr Eulenberg <eulenbrg at u.washington.edu>
> On Sat, 19 Feb 2005, Wilson Gray wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Wilson Gray <wilson.gray at RCN.COM>
>> Subject:      "Y'all" redux
>> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>> ---------
>> 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
>> English.
>> 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
>> white.
>> -Wilson Gray

More information about the Ads-l mailing list