Singular "yez"?

Wilson Gray wilson.gray at RCN.COM
Sat Dec 11 03:58:32 UTC 2004

On Dec 10, 2004, at 12:41 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Singular "yez"?
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> --------
> At 11:21 AM -0500 12/10/04, Alice Faber wrote:
>>> From a posting in alt.folklore.urban:
>>> In the Philly area (I am a recent immigrant) I swear that
>>> there is a singular pronoun "yez". My family thinks I'm
>>> hallucinating, or that maybe it's the Brooklynese "youse".
>>> Neither is true. "Youse" is plural and is quite distinct
>>> from what I'm hearing, e.g. "would yez like some coffee?"
>>> AM I hallucinating?
> Wonder if this is the same phenomenon as singular y'all, much
> discussed here.  As I recall, there was no consensus on whether
> so-called singular y'all generally involves an implicit reference to
> others in some contextually understood set to which the singular
> addressee belongs (e.g. 'you and your family', 'you and the horse you
> came in with') or whether there's a regional and social
> differentiation on this.
> Larry

Can someone supply some examples in which a genuine Southern-speaker or
a BE speaker uses "y'all"/"you-all" as a singular? I've heard and read
since the '40's, at least that, y'all/you-all can be used as a
second-person singular. I have never heard such a use from any white
Southerners or from any black  person. But I'm willing to grant that
that could be mere happenstance.

-Wilson Gray

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