Singular "yez"?

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Mon Dec 13 18:07:14 UTC 2004

Ron, that should be "apparent [not "apprent"] interest."

Has anyone brought up "you-uns/ youns-es"?  Not parallel, but a curious and possibly relevant development.


RonButters at AOL.COM wrote:
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In a message dated 12/13/04 12:05:23 PM, faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU writes:

> Yeah, a lot
> of examples of apparent singular "y'all" *can* be explained away as
> implicit plurals. But, why should they be? Why reject the simplest
> explanation, that, for some speakers, "y'all" has traveled the same path as
> "you", "usted", and many other originally plural pronouns?

The point is that this may well NOT be the "simplest" explanation. Because
most of the counterexamples fall into the category of what Lighter has termed
"frozen" idioms (and personal reports of linguistic intuitions, generally
second-hand), "frozen idioms" may be the simplest explanation.

But I certainly agree that one should keep an open mind about the question of
potential variablity among native speakers, which is why I published (when I
was the editor of AMERICAN SPEECH) several article on the subject, including
Bailey's (which, though I found it in many ways subject to honest alternative
interpretation, was at least the product of a serious scholar's careful
empirical investigation). Off-the-top-of-the-head speculations and gut reactions are
more or less what one expects from ADS-L, I guess, where the same topic gets
recyled every few years by people who have no apprent interest in looking at
what has actually been published on the subject by people who have actually
given the topic more than cursory glances.

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