Social Question

thorninmud's avatar

How is "y'all" doin'?

Asked by thorninmud (17929 points ) May 7th, 2012

Wait, that’s not what I mean…

I grew up in “y’all” country. “Y’all” functioned beautifully as a second person plural pronoun. Now I live in “you guys” country. That seems more awkward. It can push the boundary of informality a bit much, and may offend some gender sensibilities. Using just plain “you” and trying to telegraph your plural intent is also clumsy.

If there is anything like a natural selection in the evolution of language, then it seems like “y’all” ought to thrive. It just beams with linguistic fitness. So my question is, is it in fact thriving? Is it still used as often in southerly climes? Is its range expanding or contracting? Or is it destined to be a collateral casualty of the general attrition of regionalisms?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

73 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

A complicating factor for you all: “y’all” is a second person singular pronoun where I am, whereas “all y’all” is the plural form.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Don’t despair too much, though. Natural selection often paves over this kind of aberration. If the majority uses “y’all” the way you describe, “all y’all” may simply be ignored.

MilkyWay's avatar

ROFL
I’m from the UK, and think that y’all sounds way cooler, if it makes any difference.

john65pennington's avatar

I have not said this lingual word in many years.

“You guys” has always been in my depository of speech.

elbanditoroso's avatar

As a resident of the 13th colony, the former penal colony of Georgia, and one of the major states of the Confederacy during the War of Northern Aggression, I can report that that

“y’all” and “all Y’all” are thriving

So is sweet tea.

chyna's avatar

What? You mean everyone doesn’t say y’all?

JLeslie's avatar

One of the big problems with y’all (which I do use while in the south) is it sounds decidely southern. Not to mention it isn’t proper standard English. The way around y’all and yous guys is to say all of you.

Blackberry's avatar

“How’re you guys’ doing?”

Problem solved, lol. I just don’t like the word “y’all”.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@john65pennington – you must have northern blood in your veins. You guys is a northern, and in particular, New England/New York construct.

@Blackberry – there is no ‘problem’ to be solved. Y’all is what we say down here.

tom_g's avatar

@JLeslie is right (“sounds decidely southern”). It brings up some deep fear of the south in me. I’d like something new. @thorninmud, can you cook up something new that we can use instead? Thanks.

janbb's avatar

@thorny said a bad word! Oh what a naughty Buddhist!

I’ve always heard it as at Southern thing but in recent years have seen the locution “all y’all” used by Northern friends on the Internet. So I think it is alive and kicking still.

I’m a big user of “you guys” and I think my DIL was a bit taken aback to be included in that grouping when first she came to my house.

funkdaddy's avatar

Always typed it “ya’ll” with the apostrophe after the a…

Because really, who says “you all”, “ya all” is much more fitting don’t you think?

I actually don’t hear it much except for as part of “whatch’all” as in

Whatch’all up to?

or

Whatch’all talking bout?

JLeslie's avatar

@funkdaddy Well, the apostrophe is for the missing letterS, which are ou, which make up the contraction. That’s kind of the rule in English for contractions and missing letters.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Up here in the great white north using “Y’all” involves exposing the delicate tissues of the lips and mouth to extreme cold and wind chills. That is why it and other southern speech patterns such as those subsumed the the term “drawl” never caught on up here. We use short vowel sounds and crisp consonant blends. Even further north, the native languages of the Inuit for example exhibit these feature even more clearly.

On May 5th, we had a brief period of snow that plastered the whole side of my car with almost an inch of packed snow. It stayed there for a few hours until the rain washed it away.
I still need to run my furnace to keep inside temperatures above 62F at night and at 65F or more during the daytime. We do get some hot days in the summer but no really long hot spells.

Salem88's avatar

Sometimes” ya’ll” is used as a friendly inside joke by well-spoken Southerners to make fun of those that say, “Youse Guys” who think they’re superior.

But, one may use whatever one pleases.

Sunny2's avatar

I find it rather endearing because some one I work with says it all the time. It’s creeping into my vocabulary too.
@tom_g I shared your fear of the South, but allow that individuals are different and many folks from the South do not fit the stereotype you’re afraid of. Some never did; many, have changed. I can feel your bristling, but try to ease up.

Trillian's avatar

I’m from the north, but I picked it up when I lived in MS. It seems to fit. Y’all ain’t right.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I say “y’all” all the time. I get frustrated when people spell it as “ya’ll.” Yer puttin’ the apostrophe in the wrong dern place!

JLeslie's avatar

@Salem88 Huh? Southerners simply use y’all. Very well spoken southerners probably don’t. Those same southerners who do use it don’t say y’all to make fun of people who say yous guys. Sure we make fun of yous guys, and anyone who does say yous guys gets as much ridicule as y’all. I would agree anyone who uses yous guys and makes fun of y’all is an embarrassment to themseselves. You guys is not the same as yous guys or y’all in my book. All of you is still preferred if someone cares to speak with a better choice of words. My grandmother never said you guys, yous guys, or y’all, that’s for sure.

@Sunny2 What exactly is the fear?

wundayatta's avatar

“Ya’ll?” “All ya’ll?” “Youse guys?”

They’re all fuckheads and douchebags to me.

JLeslie's avatar

All y’all hahahahaha.

Coloma's avatar

I love southern slang talk, my favorite old TV show is the Beveraly Hillbillies.
Y’all come back now ya’ hear?

ragingloli's avatar

I reject this degenerate corruption of the English language.

wilma's avatar

I don’t say y’all or youse. I say you all, or all of you.
I guess I’m just boring that way.

woodcutter's avatar

It’s just part of the vernacular ‘round these parts. Just like the word ”swole”.

thorninmud's avatar

@woodcutter As in “I twisted my ankle and it swole up”?

CWOTUS's avatar

As a Yankee with some southern exposure, I’ve been using y’all as a second person plural for about 30 years now. (I like the South and I visit from time to time, but I will never be a ‘damn Yankee’. Southerners know what that is.)

I also agree with @WillWorkForChocolate: Y’all have to put the apostrophe in the right place.

woodcutter's avatar

@thorninmud Yeah that;s the correct usage of swole.

CWOTUS's avatar

To clarify on the issue of “swole”, that’s the past tense and participle of “to swell”.

“My cheek been swole fer a week since my ol’ lady done whop me upside the haid.”

marinelife's avatar

When I am visiting my extended family (on either side) in the South, I hear it creeping into my speech within a day or two, but I don’t say it at home.

Salem88's avatar

@Coloma . I always preferred “The Andy Griffith Show”. Seemed like Mayberry could be anywhere that friends take care of friends. When Barney made a mistake, Andy always tried to build his self-esteem back up. Not like noisy kardishians, Lindsey No hand, etc. They are sooo boring.

I like a good story that teaches, entertains, and makes me smile with happiness or amazement. Hate most sci-fi, unless absurd or not scary.

Salem88's avatar

@CWOTUS :-) You Guy. How’d you know such a deep Southern tradition?
Some Rebel done took pity on your sad Yankee ass and gave away the “recipe”?
......looking for rope…..

lloydbird's avatar

It is uniquely American.
And should be spoken with pride and ease.
I would be very sad ( Even though I’m geographically akin to @MilkyWay) if the practice ever ceased.

TexasDude's avatar

Tennessean here.

2 people = y’uns
2 to 4 people = y’all
4+ people = all y’all

chyna's avatar

@Salem88 Speaking of The Andy Griffith Show, Goober Pyle died this week. I think he was the cousin of Gomer Pyle.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard, I’ve heard “y’uns” used in the mountains of Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

wilma's avatar

I like “y’all” and I like to hear it spoken, but it seems unnatural for me to say it as I am Yankee.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I can’t believe all ya’ll are having debates over which ya’ll is grammatically correct! Ya’ll crazy. :)

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wait wait wait. You don’t say “How is ya’ll doin’ ” You simply say, “How ya’ll doin’?” There isn’t no is in there. This is important.

thorninmud's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yes, but that’s a different question from the one I was asking. I want to know how my old linguistic friend “y’all” is doing.

bkcunningham's avatar

Y’all is doing fine. Fine as frog hair.

DominicX's avatar

Yeah, it’s “you guys” country here in California. Doesn’t matter the gender either. I never hear “y’all” unless someone is saying it to emphasize it in comparison with something else. Or to imitate a Southern dialect…

SavoirFaire's avatar

@JLeslie “Ain’t” used to be narrowly confined to a particular demographic as well, and it sure ain’t “proper English” either. But I’d like to see y’all try getting rid of it.

JLeslie's avatar

@SavoirFaire Why are you talking to me? I said I use y’all while in the south.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@JLeslie I was responding to your first post, which seems to imply that y’all should stay in the South given the fact that it is—at present—decidedly Southern. It seems to me that the decidedly Southern aspect of the term is potentially a temporary state of affairs.

JLeslie's avatar

@SavoirFaire Not that it should stay in the south, that it likely will, because it is associated with a southern accent.

Sunny2's avatar

@JLeslie I grew up when the killing of black people in parts of the South was considered sport. It colored the feelings I had about the South greatly. I came from a liberal family and fought against such ignorance and atrocities.

ucme's avatar

You’s lot.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@JLeslie Maybe. My mother has started to use it, though, and she has never lived anywhere but Massachusetts and New York.

woodcutter's avatar

@Dutchess_III There are some people who do put “is” before y’all. It is just another way to use it.

Plucky's avatar

Lol, I’ve never heard it used here unless it was in a joke. Never really been a fan of the term; sounds silly to me.

JLeslie's avatar

@SavoirFaire Well, it certainly is possible it will catch on. When I lived in MD some people used y’all but otherwise did not sound very southern. This was in the metro DC area. Southern MD is very southern.

Still, most people outside of the south are not very keen on southern dialect. They might like to listen to the accent, but things like y’all, fixin’, and using Ma’am, are kind of seen as less educated hick talk, or from the days of slavery, or even an extreme obedience that is expected, especially children using ma’am and sir with family and close friends of family, Same with Miss Firstname, although some preschool teachers use it in other parts of the country. That just sounds like the days of Miss Scarlet to me still, even though I live around that, know it is a sign of respect, and am called Miss J often down here. Y’all might border on crossing over now, not sure. My husband’s company had to give their 800 operators a list of don’t use words and phrases because they couldn’t figure out on their own not to use fixin’ and other southern expressions on the phone. The company was not ok with it in general, but even worse when they were taking in calls from outside of the south.

I also have friends who moved here from PA, and they have told theor kids not to use ma’am and sir, bevause when they say it they sound like they are being smart asses. They are not trying to be smart asses nor disrespectful, it is just so odd to them they can’t do it. Another woman I know, her SIL is from MI and was in the military, and he has forbidden his children to use ma’am and sir as taught in the south. I am kind of when in Rome do as the Romans personally.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I’ve lived in either Virginia or Memphis for over 40 years combined. Both are considered in the South. I don’t recall ever hearing it used in a singular form, meaning directed at one person. “Do you want to go to the Piggly-Wiggly?” would be speaking to one person. “Do y’all want to grab something to eat at the Catfish Cafe?” would be used to address two or more people. “Do all y’all want to go to want to go to the swimmin’ hole?” is to ask for a group opinion or consensus. At least that’s how I hear it used ‘round these here parts of the US.

As for it spreading, y’all up North would know better. If I had to take a wild guess, it could be due to people moving out of the area that they grew up in exposing others to the Southern lingo. It’s probably the same for the Yankees that head south. Most of the people that I worked and hung out with were not from the South, and I never hear them use ‘y’all.’

The continued growth of people from other countries coming to the US probably also has some factor on its use becoming less frequent. The term is informal. It isn’t taught in English classes, as far as I know.

I’m not a huge fan of ‘y’all’, but I prefer it over ‘you guys’. It gets used frequently here on Fluther. Sometimes, it is referring to the collective. Other times, it is used to specifically single out the male population. There just are better ways to word a statement in order to prevent any momentary confusion.

Facade's avatar

I say y’all when I mean two or more people. You know you’re in the deep south when they use y’all for one person..

augustlan's avatar

I grew up in the same Maryland town @JLeslie is talking about, and we had the best of both worlds. Y’all and you guys were both heard. I couldn’t stand the yous guys thing, though. I tend to say you guys, to any gender.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Y’all just ain’t gettin’ it.

CWOTUS's avatar

In Michigan it’s just “yous” or “youse” (maybe “you’s”, who knows how those things are spelled sometimes?).

JLeslie's avatar

@CWOTUS I don’t remember ever hearing that in MI the whole time I lived there.

augustlan's avatar

I’ve only ever heard “yous/youse” in New Jersey and NY.

Plucky's avatar

Ugh, my wicked step-mother says “you’s guys” ...I’ve never heard anyone but her say it, in real life.

Y’all are silly :P

wilma's avatar

@CWOTUS I suppose there might be places in MI where they say “yous”, but not where I live.

JLeslie's avatar

Why would it be spelled youse? Isn’t it an attempt at making you plural? Adding the S?

CWOTUS's avatar

Okay, y’all Michiganders… maybe it was just my wife saying ‘yous’. She was normally the only person I’d hear in Michigan anyway.

JLeslie's avatar

@CWOTUS Is she from Jersey?

Trillian's avatar

Yeah, I’m from Michigan and the only person I ever heard say “Yous guys” was a girl whose family had actually moved to my neighborhood from another state. I don’t remember where, but I remember thinking that “yous guys” sounded stupid. I certainly never said it.

CWOTUS's avatar

Nope, Michigan born to Michigan-born parents and lived there all her life. And it was never – not ever – ‘yous guys’. But ‘yous’. So if she was talking to her mother and her aunt and making plans for the weekend it would be something like, “Do yous have plans already?” ... and everyone knew that it was “you, plural” ... and answered the same way. “We can maybe meet with yous after we go to Meijers.”

JLeslie's avatar

@CWOTUS Are they Italian? Not to pick on the Italians, but it is usually Italians in Jersey who use it, so I thought maybe something from the mother tongue promotes the idea of using it in English. Although, I have tons of Italian friends who don’t use it. Oh, there is something many Michiganders say that sounds ridiculous. Eye-tal-yan, but I never heard yous. :)

CWOTUS's avatar

No, and oh yeah to the Eye-talian thing, too. Also thee-ate-er for movies.

Trillian's avatar

Wow. Maybe it was an affectation? I knew a girl who deliberately said hif instead of if, and spooen instead of spoon. She truly thought that people would think it was cute. Maybe they did, and I was the only one who wanted to pummel her.

CWOTUS's avatar

Remind me not to speak to you of my dorg.

Trillian's avatar

Oh god! You reminded me. I also knew a girl who said warsh. All the time. It drove me insane!

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther