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As a southerner who has lived in (or been stationed in) Virginia, North
Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, and Delaware (yes it
is a southern state), I can state for a certainty that y'all is both singular
and plural, depending on from which state or which town the speaker came.
One of my dearest friends is a native of Richmond, VA and my father-in-law is
from Corinth, Mississippi. While their speech paterns are similar, they are
most definitely not the same. A great misconception exists among yankees
about how we sound and the colloquialisms we use here. Ask a Richmond native
to say "about" and you will hear "uh boot", similar to asking a Canadian to
say it. If you ask someone from southwest Georgia to say it, they will say
"ah baeut", adding an extra "a" to "bout". (Remember Annie Potts in Designing
Women?). Additionally, anyone who has ever spent some time in Charleston, SC
(a great, great city) knows that Charlestonians speak differently then most
other South Carolinians, especially on such words as "gate" and "wait".
You, or "yew" as it is often pronounced, is used as the singular in many
places across the south, even as y'all is used in others. And while I'm on
my soap box, Those of y'all who criticize the way we speak must have never
spent time in New Yoak City, upstate New Joisey, or the state of Maine,
where one speaks through a closed mouth.
This has been one man's opinion, yours may vary with mileage, age,
disposition, or relationship to the Mason and Dixon line.