Date: Thu, 20 Jan 1994 23:35:50 -0600


Subject: Re: y'all

On Thu, 20 Jan 1994, Donald M. Lance wrote:

I've noticed that in Columbia, Missouri, servers in bars and restaurants

freely use Y'ALL when asking if "y'all need anything else" etc. And these

are not Southerners speaking! The friendlier the banter with customers the

more likely the servers will use "y'all." Not "you all" but "y'all"!

Today when I asked one of my classes about the phenomenon, there was unanimous

agreement that I wasn't making it up. Several students commented that they

normally didn't use that pronoun but felt obliged to use it on the job. One

worked in Colorado last summer and felt pressure to use the pronoun even thoug

she doesn't use it in other social contexts. Several commented that "it's

friendlier" than other ways of addressing customers. Where else has this item

spread to?

It appears in South African Indian English, RAjend Methrie in ENGLISH IN

LANGUAGE SHIFT, Cambridge UP 1993. It occurs in "informal letters" and

"formal speeches" and is "below the level of social consciousness." (61)

RM notes that when written it is spelled "you'll."

I would hesitate to say that it had "spread" to SAIE. SAIE appears to be

a learner variety with some influence from Hindi, Tamil, and other Indian

languages, less relation to Indian English.

It has a plural genitive form "ya'll's."

SAIE also uses all a s a general plurality denotation, e.g., "AFter he

died his books-all was at home." (200) RM suggests that this usage might

have an "impetus" from the lingua franca Fanagalo, possibly from Zulu.

Tim Frazer