Re: "Y'all" is the Southern plural of you

Subject: Re: "Y'all" is the Southern plural of you
From: Karen Mayer <Karen_Mayer -dot- TOUCH_TECHNOLOGY -at- NOTES -dot- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 1995 14:05:37 EST

-------------------- ORIGINAL MESSAGE TEXT --------------------
Tracy asks if English isn't one of the few languages without
a "you" plural. Someone reminded her of "thou," but there is
a modern fix: Americans in the South use "you" for singular
and "you all" for the plural, and for exactly the same
reasons Germans (help me out here, Alex von Oberen) do -- to
express respect and not to focus too closely on anyone in
particular. I was in Savannah once and overheard a woman
talk with a man she did not know well; she used "you all"
throughout the conversation in addressing him alone. It
worked very well as a social distancer, just as it does in
French or German.

-------------------- END OF ORIGINAL MESSAGE --------------------

I lived in the deep south for 5 years and never heard a single person say
"you all." I heard "y'all" all the time, however -- two very different
words. "Y'all" is one word and can be used in the singular if the speaker
does not know whether there any other people involved. It also has a
possessive form, "y'all's" as in "I thought we were going to y'all's
house for dinner."


-- Karen

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