Possible antedating for "you all"

Alice Faber faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU
Mon Dec 9 19:07:32 UTC 2002

Laurence Horn said:
>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).

That particular phrase "may the God of Israel set a blessing on you
all" strikes me as a translation from Hebrew, which has a sg/pl
distinction for pronouns. (The Hebrew would be something like
"vayivarech etxem elohey-yisrael", where the suffix -xem on the
accusative particle et is 2nd person masculine plural; singular would
be etxa.)
Alice Faber                                             faber at haskins.yale.edu
Haskins Laboratories                                  tel: (203) 865-6163 x258
New Haven, CT 06511 USA                                     fax (203) 865-8963

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