Southern Advice

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Sat Jul 14 23:16:02 UTC 2001

Now now. Phonetics ain't doin' us much good here. If it was
phonetics, most of us l-less southerers would write something like
"yaw" (or maybe "y'aw" or "ya'w." Guess Doug would like the latter.


>>  >>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

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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