"Y'all" redux

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Sun Feb 20 23:25:38 UTC 2005

Sorry for leaving out the word "routinely": "that Southerners *routinely* address individuals as 'y'all.' "

I was so angry that I'd accidentally deleted the earlier, better phrased post before I sent it that I left out a key word.

But it certainly is remarkable that any evidence  that some Southerners, in certain circumstances, can actually use a singular "y'all" is denounced or ridiculed.

So if one ever does hear a singular y'all from a Southerner, that Southerner is just a-play-actin' for the furriners.  Or "perceived" furriners, perhaps. Or the Southerner is really from Texas, which doesn't count. Or West Texas, for sure.


"Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET> wrote:
---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "Douglas G. Wilson"
Subject: Re: "Y'all" redux

>Would somebody please post a reference to a seemingly intelligent printed
>source - or any source - that confidently asserts that Southerners address
>individuals as "y'all"? It would be nice if the source was more recent
>than, say, 1930, but I'll take anything. It would be good to know exactly
>what it is that is being defended against.

Crystal's recent book does assert that Fort Worthers (or is it "Worthians"
or "Forteans"?) do this. The first example he encountered (IIRC) was from
the clerk or storekeeper where he went to buy a Stetson hat. I wasn't there
and I've never seen Crystal or heard him speak, but one thing which tends
to be near a Texas hotel in my limited experience is a store selling
Stetsons, tooled boots, etc. to tourists from such places as London, Tokyo,
and Chicago. With clerks necessarily quite conscious of their Texan-ness
(or is that "Texianity"?). Crystal does recount other examples of singular
"y'all", but again there is reason to suspect that some may put on this
sort of thing for the furriners.

What is the opposite of "hypercorrection" again? I live in Pittsburgh. Many
Pittsburghers use "you-uns"/"yinz" as the plural of "you", some don't, but
essentially everybody knows that the 'correct' or 'standard' version is
"you" [pl.]. So "yinz" is either lower-register or explicitly-local. In
order to sound even more homey/slangy/explicitly-local one might go one
step further and put "yinz" for every instance of "you", singular or
plural. I'm sure I've encountered this, although not often. The same might
occur elsewhere, IMHO, with "y'all", for example, or "youse", in US or UK.

-- Doug Wilson

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