General Question

bassist_king1's avatar

Why do we use "guys" as a general term for a group of people, even if the group includes females?

Asked by bassist_king1 (305points) March 27th, 2008 from iPhone

does anyone else find this strange?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

10 Answers

soundedfury's avatar

Because our language doesn’t have a good gender-neutral plural third-person form, and our language has a historical male bias.

Riser's avatar

I try to say “gals” when necessary. Give it time. It’ll be illegal soon.

robmandu's avatar

In the grand ole South, we use ”y’all”... and neatly sidestep that particular politically correct pothole.

cake7's avatar

I remember when i moved from Arizona to Texas, everyone used to make fun of me. Well because i would say “hey you guys”. Now living in Texas we say y’all but, let me tell you i get made fun of 10X worst when i go back to visit AZ or CA. : /

@robmandu: you beat me. ; )

henry_david's avatar

This is rather similar to the French plural. When there are two guys and one girl, it is “ils” the third person plural, masculine form. If there are twenty-five women and one man, it’s still “ils.” Questionable…...So, uh, no. I haven’t the faintest.

dpena2009's avatar

It’s the same in Spanish too. The word “ellos” is used a group of people containing at least one man. It’s just the ways it is. Keep in mind women have been thought of as inferior to men. At least until recently. So it makes sense that languages would have words be more masculine

henry_david's avatar

HIS-story. A little breaking down of “history.”

Anyway, ‘history’ is “An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.” Thank you, Mr. Bierce.

nocountry2's avatar

I suddenly have a lot more respect for “y’all”...

rooeytoo's avatar

It has always grated on me a bit because if you refer to a group of males as “ladies” or “girls” it is deemed to be an insult, but I guess females are to be pleased to be included.
Anyhow, I agree with the southern solution, I always say y’all and I am living in Australia!

ccatron's avatar

you could also ask, “why do we say ‘actors’ when talking about a group of actors and actresses?” or “why do we say ‘waiters’ when referring to a group of waiters and waitresses?” I guess we say “servers” now, but you get the point.

I think soundedfury has the correct reason.

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