Date: Wed, 10 Aug 1994 11:09:39 -0500


Subject: you

Date: Wed, 10 Aug 1994 10:45:06 -0500

From: Dennis Baron baron[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]


Subject: you

Thought y'all'd be interested in this extension of an old discussion:

Newsgroups: alt.usage.english

From: peter[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] (Peter Moylan)

Subject: Re: "You" [was: herstory-this bugs me]

Date: Mon, 8 Aug 1994 23:26:17 GMT

Greg Resch (resch[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] wrote:

[Comments about the loss of "thou" and "thee"]

dwharper[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] (Dan Harper) wrote:

Sorry, perhaps I should have written, "There seems to be a real need in

English for a plural second person pronoun that is different in form from

the singular second person pronoun."

I can almost agree with that, except that there *was* one, which we seem

(*supra*) to have dropped. That, and my objection to a related attempt

now in vogue to institute the use of "they" for the putatively offensive

"he" and "she," are why I object to a *new* "separate" form.

But the "you-all" and "youse" mentioned earlier are dialectal in America,

so I can not accept them as having gained some "pluplural" meaning. Sorry.

^^^^^^^^^ [JOKE!]

There is a small part of the USA where "y'all" seems to be doing

its job as a plural; on the other hand, we've seen complaints in

this group that some people are now using "y'all" as a _singular_


Something similar is happening in Australia. One does hear "youse"

moderately often - although it has never been adopted by the

"educated" speakers - and at first sight this appears to satisfy

the need for a plural pronoun. I have noticed, however, that many

people who use "youse" have started using "youses" as the plural

form, which suggests that they think of "youse" as being singular.

My overall impression is that native English speakers don't want to

have separate pronouns for the second person singular and plural.

Whenever a new plural form is introduced, it evolves to the point

where the singular/plural distinction is lost again.

I thought the parallel to what may be happening with the third

person was obvious.

I'm not at all convinced that there is a parallel. Blurring the

singular/plural distinction in the third person works in some

situations, but not in others. The words "he", "she", and "it"

show no sign at all of following "thou" into oblivion.


Peter Moylan peter[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]


Dennis Baron debaron[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

Department of English 217-333-2392

University of Illinois fax: 217-333-4321

608 South Wright Street

Urbana, Illinois 61801