Possible antedating for "you all"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Dec 9 17:08:57 UTC 2002

At 11:51 AM -0500 12/9/02, James A. Landau wrote:
>letter of 15th February, 1771 by Joshua Hart of "Charles Town", South
>Carolina, quoted in Jacob Rader Marcus _Early American Jewry, Volume II_
>Philadeplphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1953, no ISBN. page 250.
><begin quote>
>Mrs. Hart and family joins me in wishing you and family, your brother Abram
>and family, the widow Lopez and children, and Mr. David Lopez,and the rest of
>your worthy family, a merry Purim, and may the Good of Israel set a blessing
>on you all, and am, with sincerity,
>    Your assured friend and most obedient servant,
>     Joshua Hart
><end quote>
>note: "Good" probably should read "God"
>I don't know whether to claim this as an early usage of the second person
>plural "you all" or "y'all" that is widely used in the speech of the Southern
>United States.  In favor of such a claim: this letter was written in
>Charleston, South Carolina, which is in the Southern US, by a man who had
>lived in Charleston for at least nine years (page 249 "He had been in
>business in Charlestown at least since 1762, when we first run across his
But of course, as you imply, it could also be the standard "floated
quantifier" sense = 'all of you'.  It sounds perfectly consistent
with my non-southern competence (= a blessing on you all, rather than
= a blessing on youze/y'all).


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