Heard on The Judges II

David Bowie db.list at PMPKN.NET
Tue Mar 25 13:55:19 UTC 2008

From:    Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>

> A mid-twenty-ish black woman, reads an excerpt from a letter written
> to her by a former friend. The friend, as quoted, twice uses "y'all."

> I find this surprising. I use "y'all" in speech all the time, when
> speaking to other black people, but I use it in writing only whin I be
> funnin' wit chawl. I don't use "y'all" even when writing to members of
> my family and I don't even feel comfortable using "you-all" in
> correspondence, except as a joke.

> I guess that young folk aren't as tense about sounding cullud as us
> older heads.

Well, i'm white, but FWIW i use y'all pretty freely, including in
relatively formal (written or spoken) settings--though there it may be
somewhat performative rather than truly natural.

(Lower-case "i" in writing, though, that's just among friends.)

When i was teaching out in Utah, students would occasionally giggle when
i'd pull out a y'all or a double modal in the classroom, so i'd have to
explain to them that there's some parts of growing up working-class and
(barely, i suppose) Southern that i'm not about to give up, no matter
how long i've been in school.

David Bowie                               University of Central Florida
     Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there is no chocolate in the
     house, there is too little; some must be purchased. If there is
     chocolate in the house, there is too much; it must be consumed.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list