Southern Advice

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Jul 14 22:41:45 UTC 2001

> >>And have you noticed that in the current ADS journal, there's an
> article consistently using ya'll?  Does that make any sense?  What is
> being substituted by the apostrophe?  Rima<<

Note 1 at the end of the article explains why: this is the way the court
transcript in question renders "y'all".

>you = ya
>all = all
>ya + all = ya'll

IMHO "ya'll" is a poor choice for "you all" = "y'all". Usually in
contractions with apostophes the apostrophe stands not for just anything at
random but specifically for a letter or letter-sequence which is elided,
i.e., which is not pronounced.

Even granting that "ya" is a reasonable rendition of "you" (which I don't
really think is generally true), "ya" (/yV/ or /y@/) + "all" (/Ol) should >
"y'all" (/yOl/) since the elided vowel is the first "a" (/V/ or /@/) and
not the second (/O/). Furthermore, under the same assumption (that "ya"
represents "you"), "ya'll" (presumably /yVl/) should = "you'll" = "you will".

[On the other hand, if it is asserted that the apostrophe can freely
replace any old thing ad libitum and if orthodox spelling is to be entirely
ignored, why not save some keystrokes and write "you all" as "y'l" ... or
even "'" (a naked apostrophe)? (^_^)]

-- Doug Wilson

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