Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Y'all's sprawl. Linguists study the spread of a Southern term
Houston Chronicle/Columbia News Service ^ | Feb. 19, 2005 | MOISES VELASQUEZ-MANOFF

Posted on 02/20/2005 7:45:38 PM PST by bayourod

In a June appearance on NBC's Today Show, singer Marc Anthony made an unusual but, according to some linguists, not-so-surprising word choice.

When co-host Matt Lauer asked Anthony how he'd spend the upcoming weekend, Anthony said, "Y'all know I don't talk about my personal life."

A New York native of Puerto Rican descent using "y'all," a distinctly Southern term?

Linguists Guy Bailey and Jan Tillery would say Anthony is exhibit A in a national trend that is spreading the uses of "y'all" beyond the South. The two, who teach at the University of Texas at San Antonio, wrote an article in 2000 called The Nationalization of a Southernism, in the Journal of English Linguistics.

After conducting a national poll by telephone, the team concluded that the spread was dramatic and recent, most likely in the past 50 years as younger non-Southerners were significantly more likely to use "y'all" than older non-Southerners. Those regions bordering the South and Texas, like Kansas and New Mexico, were most likely to adopt it, as well as the Rocky Mountain region, which, they argued, had cultural similarities with the South.

As for why non-Southerners might use a markedly Southern term, the authors cite geographic mobility — Northerners moving to the South adopting it and Southerners moving to the North retaining it. But ultimately, the authors argue, it's a matter of addressing a "hole" in the English language.

Ever since English lost the second person singular "thou," it has relied on the pronoun "you" to act as both singular and plural. English speakers have improvised ways to avoid ambiguity in the plural: in the Northeast, "youse" or "youse guys"; around Pittsburgh "yunz" or "yinz," a contraction of "you-ones"; in the South, "y'all," a contraction — or "fusion" as Bailey and Tillery say — of "you-all"; and finally "you guys."

But "you guys" feels awkward to certain segments of the population, says Joan Houston Hall, chief editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English. A term that gained popularity in the 1960s, it still sounds inappropriately familiar to some elderly ears, she says, and some women are uncomfortable with the masculine gender implied by "guys." "Y'all" elegantly resolves all these concerns.

Others argue that "y'all" is spreading for a much simpler reason: Both culturally and numerically, the South is on the rise. But more important, "y'all" is standard in what linguists call African-American Vernacular English (AAVE), the lingua franca of rap and hip-hop.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: dialects; language; linguistics; south; yall
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-150151-200201-242 next last
If you don't say "Y'all" what do you say?
1 posted on 02/20/2005 7:45:40 PM PST by bayourod
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: bayourod

This Michigan native says Y'all.


2 posted on 02/20/2005 7:46:48 PM PST by cripplecreek (The crippled stool is the cadillac of poopin stools.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bayourod

you will be assimilated. :)


3 posted on 02/20/2005 7:46:50 PM PST by smonk
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bayourod

Youse is like the northern version of y'all.


4 posted on 02/20/2005 7:47:16 PM PST by Bouchart
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: stainlessbanner; Xenalyte; Tax-chick

ping, ya'll


5 posted on 02/20/2005 7:47:18 PM PST by annyokie (Laissez les bons temps rouler !)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bayourod
If you don't say "Y'all" what do you say?

Yoooooo

I'm from Philly :0)

6 posted on 02/20/2005 7:48:05 PM PST by Mo1 (Question to Liberals .. When did supporting and defending Freedom become a bad thing??)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DixieOklahoma; kalee; dljordan; Da Bilge Troll; nolu chan; sionnsar; Free Trapper; dcwusmc; ...

Great big Ya'll


7 posted on 02/20/2005 7:48:42 PM PST by stainlessbanner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bayourod

>> If you don't say "Y'all" what do you say?

I don't really know, I've used Y'all for quite some time. Being from very north-west of Montana I've always been used to using some Canadian in my English, eh? However for some reason it seems like the Flathead valley seems to have a tint of southern like culture. Maybe its all the canyon critters there? ><


8 posted on 02/20/2005 7:48:54 PM PST by Brian328i
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: annyokie

I say ya'll just because I'm lazy and don't want to say you all, and plus when I'm angry it makes me feel a little more feisty.


9 posted on 02/20/2005 7:49:44 PM PST by cyborg (http://mentalmumblings.blogspot.com/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: bayourod

You, what do y'all say?


10 posted on 02/20/2005 7:50:05 PM PST by WSGilcrest (Tinky likes it!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Bouchart
Youse is like the northern version of y'all.

But Youse sounds stupid if you don't say it with the proper accent. Y'all works even in the midwest.

11 posted on 02/20/2005 7:50:08 PM PST by Harmless Teddy Bear (Apparently, this is the only job for which I am suited. I am beset by the ironies of my life)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: smonk

"you will be assimilated. :)"

LOL! Resitance is futile.


12 posted on 02/20/2005 7:50:30 PM PST by Rebelbase (Who is General Chat?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: bayourod

I usually say "Every single one of you bastards," but I make sure they have a sense of humor first.


13 posted on 02/20/2005 7:50:34 PM PST by Larry Lucido
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Rebelbase

ya'll and coonass have somehow found its way into my everyday vocab and blame it entirely on FR. I smell a southron conspiracy.


14 posted on 02/20/2005 7:51:50 PM PST by cyborg (http://mentalmumblings.blogspot.com/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: bayourod

I'm a native New Yorker and I've been saying "ya'll" since I was a kid. Not exactly in a country accent though.


15 posted on 02/20/2005 7:52:35 PM PST by angelr1076
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bayourod

I say "you guys". Means both male and female.


16 posted on 02/20/2005 7:54:08 PM PST by Theresawithanh (2005! My resolution: FReep even MORE this year!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cyborg

FR does have an influence.

My wife went to Wal Mart yesterday and I needed to talk to her so I called Wal Mart and asked them to ping my wife.

Of course I meant page my wife

What a dumass.


17 posted on 02/20/2005 7:55:00 PM PST by Graybeard58 (Remember and pray for Spec.4 Matt Maupin - MIA/POW- Iraq since 04/09/04)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: bayourod
Well, I grew up in Houston, and definitely still say "y'all". But I think being in California for the last 14 years has finally rubbed off on me -- I'm just as likely to say "you guys" now, even if the "guys" are girls.
18 posted on 02/20/2005 7:55:13 PM PST by Ryan Spock
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cripplecreek
"This Michigan native says Y'all. "

Most archaeologists now concur that the original Michigan-Americans migrated from the South to Detroit and are now returning to their native habitat.

19 posted on 02/20/2005 7:55:27 PM PST by bayourod ("It's for the children" has been replaced by "It's to fight terrorists.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: WKB; MagnoliaMS; MississippiMan; vetvetdoug; NerdDad; Rebel Coach; afuturegovernor; mwyounce; ...

I know this isn't strictly a MS topic, but it deserves a ping anyway. (((MS PING)))

ALL Y'ALL's BASE ARE BELONG TO US.


20 posted on 02/20/2005 7:55:27 PM PST by bourbon (You see me here, and yet I am already changed, already elsewhere.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: cyborg

didja bring yer truck widjadidja?


21 posted on 02/20/2005 7:55:29 PM PST by cripplecreek (The crippled stool is the cadillac of poopin stools.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: smonk
Y'all you will be assimilated. :)
22 posted on 02/20/2005 7:56:14 PM PST by SouthTexas
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: cyborg

I say all ya'll when refering to a group of ya'll. My auntie still say's you'uns and we'uns. That and them young'uns. ; )


23 posted on 02/20/2005 7:56:24 PM PST by annyokie (Laissez les bons temps rouler !)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: bayourod

All y'all want to be like us


24 posted on 02/20/2005 7:57:36 PM PST by Southern Partisan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Ryan Spock
"I'm just as likely to say "you guys" now, even if the "guys" are girls. "

That's OK as long as you continue to maintain the distinction in your mind. It's not what you say that counts, it's what you do.

25 posted on 02/20/2005 7:58:07 PM PST by bayourod ("It's for the children" has been replaced by "It's to fight terrorists.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: bayourod

"everyone"
"people"
"folks"
"you guys"


26 posted on 02/20/2005 7:58:42 PM PST by Born to Conserve
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bayourod

My stepsons raised between Utah and Washington State, tease me a lot about y'all (born and raised in the South, I will never be a you guys type of person, and you all is just too awkward), but every now and then I hear the youngest saying it...and when he catches himself doing it, he feels horrified!


27 posted on 02/20/2005 7:58:45 PM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cyborg
There's always a place for a cute little Yankee gal in a southern heart, especially if she comes willingly. :-)
28 posted on 02/20/2005 7:58:51 PM PST by Rebelbase (Who is General Chat?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: bayourod

I've said y'all since I was a kid in Colorado and I dont remember ever being around any southerners who used the term.


29 posted on 02/20/2005 7:58:57 PM PST by sailork
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Comment #30 Removed by Moderator

To: bayourod
Grandma HR used to say bellow to us grandkids, "SILENCIO!!! Ya'll are giving me un dolor de cabeza!"
31 posted on 02/20/2005 7:59:20 PM PST by hispanarepublicana (I was Lucy Ramirez when being Lucy Ramirez was't cool.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Rebelbase; cyborg

Y'all need to get a room!


32 posted on 02/20/2005 8:00:06 PM PST by Larry Lucido
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: Graybeard58

LOL!


33 posted on 02/20/2005 8:00:48 PM PST by Texas_Jarhead (Islam is religion of piece established for profit by Muhammad, piss be upon him.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: Mo1
As long as "Yinz(s)"doesn't make it past the 'burgh, I'm OK.

Now what's with the "lipstick on a pig analogy"? I'm hearing it everywhere.

34 posted on 02/20/2005 8:00:53 PM PST by kaboom
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: bayourod

I don't mind if non-Southerners say "y'all" as long as they spell it correctly (it's "y'all," not "ya'all" or "ya'll") and don't apply it to the singular. Too many Yankees trying to act Southern or put on a phony Southern accent think that y'all = you, singular, in Southern-speak. That's just stupid.


35 posted on 02/20/2005 8:00:53 PM PST by Capriole (the Luddite hypocritically clicking away on her computer)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: angelr1076; bayourod

"I'm a native New Yorker and I've been saying "ya'll" since I was a kid. Not exactly in a country accent though."

I lived in NY for 35 years and until recently, and I've never heard the expression ya'll.

The correct expression is "you all." Ya'll is vulgar vernacular.


36 posted on 02/20/2005 8:01:08 PM PST by TheBrotherhood (Love thy neighbor, but pick your neighborhood.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Theresawithanh

--and I remember the bi-gender usage of "you guys" originating the year I was a freshman in high school--'53---


37 posted on 02/20/2005 8:01:09 PM PST by rellimpank (urban dwellers don' t understand the cultural deprivation of not being raised on a farm)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: bayourod

Yo'uns.


38 posted on 02/20/2005 8:01:11 PM PST by Old Professer (As truth and fiction blend in the Mixmaster of History almost any sauce can be made palatable.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: hispanarepublicana

"dolor de cabeza!"

Which end is the cabenza?


39 posted on 02/20/2005 8:01:18 PM PST by Larry Lucido
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: cyborg
I smell a southron conspiracy.

That's just the Wlat brigade stinking up the thread. They will be here soon to tell us how ya'll is connected to slavocracy and anyone who speaks Southern is evil!!

40 posted on 02/20/2005 8:01:24 PM PST by stainlessbanner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Graybeard58

At least you didn't zot her.


41 posted on 02/20/2005 8:02:06 PM PST by Larry Lucido
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: Graybeard58; cripplecreek; annyokie

And how could I forget 'bless your heart'


42 posted on 02/20/2005 8:02:12 PM PST by cyborg (http://mentalmumblings.blogspot.com/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: cripplecreek
didja bring yer truck widjadidja?

mayonnaise: "Mayonnaise a lot of people here."
aorta: "Aorta cut that grass pretty soon."
initiate: "My wife ate a hamburger initiate two bags of chips."

43 posted on 02/20/2005 8:02:13 PM PST by Ryan Spock
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: bayourod
We lived in Pittsburgh and moved to Mississippi when my daughter was two years old. Two years later we moved back. My daughter was playing with some friends and one said "Ye'nz come here." (a slang for you, plural) She looked at her and very seriously told her..."It's not ye'nz - it's y'all!" She learned English well in the south!
44 posted on 02/20/2005 8:02:13 PM PST by CitizenM ("...pacifism is one of the greatest allies an aggressor can have!" -Patrick Henry)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: sailork

--I've said y'all since I was a kid in Colorado and I dont remember ever being around any southerners who used the term.--

Maybe had to do with all them Texans who migrated to Colorado?


45 posted on 02/20/2005 8:02:22 PM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: bayourod; stainlessbanner
If you don't say "Y'all" what do you say?

sometimes I say you all but usually y'all

SB ... didn't know if you had been pinged, by the time you get this, the south haters will have slithered out of their pit of vipers to attack us and our people.
46 posted on 02/20/2005 8:03:44 PM PST by DixieOklahoma (Death before dishonor!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Larry Lucido

Usually on the side wall next to the china closet, just adjacent to the sideboard.


47 posted on 02/20/2005 8:03:45 PM PST by Old Professer (As truth and fiction blend in the Mixmaster of History almost any sauce can be made palatable.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: bayourod
Ya'll might like dis un:

Ya'llbonics

48 posted on 02/20/2005 8:04:35 PM PST by stainlessbanner (Gather round ya'll)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: yall

They're talking about you...


49 posted on 02/20/2005 8:04:48 PM PST by null and void (The thrill of victory, the agony of delete.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 47 | View Replies]

To: Theresawithanh

As a Southern lady, I don't feel comfortable with "you guys". A guy is a guy...no way that could refer to me or to other females. I always wondered why people used that term. Y'all is either gender and sooooo easy to say!


50 posted on 02/20/2005 8:04:51 PM PST by jch10
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-150151-200201-242 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson